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Use the GDC 2021 Session Viewer to browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, time, pass type, topic, and format. All registered attendees will be able to build their personal schedule directly within the event platform, once live early July 2021. All times are listed in Pacific Time.

Environment Design as Visual Storytelling: Theory and Practice

Miriam Bellard  (Art Director for Visual Development, Rockstar Games)

Date: Wednesday, July 21

Time: 9:40am - 10:40am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design, Visual Arts

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: N/A: I prefer to present live on-site but I am open to delivering a virtual presentation

As environment designers for video games we are like actors and actresses – we are playing a part, and expressing other characters and personalities. The biggest difference is the palette we use. An actor or actress uses their own bodies as their palette to express themselves, we use the environment as ours.
In this talk Miriam Bellard uses design theory, psychology and neuroscience to explore visual storytelling and explain what works and why, and how to communicate with the player. Her talk covers concepts such as affinity and contrast, gestalt psychology, behavioural traces, associations and metaphors. She uses examples from GTA V DLC, and the real world.


Attendees will gain insights into what works and why when it comes to visual storytelling and communicating with the player.

Intended Audience

This talk is aimed at anyone involved in designing environments for video games. Art Directors, Concept Artists, Visual Development Artists, Environment Artists and Level Designers will all find it useful. No prior knowledge is necessary.