The Evolution of Video Game Title Sequences

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 5 2013 12:57 PM

The Evolution of Video Game Title Sequences

Movie title sequences have become a subject of renewed fascination in recent years, with fans putting together video histories of the opening titles in James Bond movies, in the work of the legendary Saul Bass, and in the whole history of cinema.

But now, following up on their own “Brief History of Title Design,” the great site Art of the Title has turned its eye on a different subject: title design for video games. Their new video essay tracks three decades of these sequences, from 1981’s Donkey Kong to 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V.

Though video game title sequences started with simple one-screen animations, they have borrowed more and more from movies over the last couple decades. For example, the titles for Mirror’s Edge (2008), with the letters floating across the faces of buildings, recall the opening titles of Panic Room (2002), or Saul Bass’ opening titles for North by Northwest (1959), which pioneered the same use of “situational type” in skylines and streets.

But if current trends hold, you can expect to see more design ideas from video games making their way into the opening titles for movies. Hopefully, when that happens, they’ll be constructed and edited as nicely as this montage.

(The song is Anamanaguchi’s “Endless Fantasy.” For the full listing of games used in this video, head over to Art of the Title.)

Previously
How to Make a Great Title Sequence
The Evolution of the James Bond Opening Title
The History of Title Sequences
Are Movies Turning Into Video Games?

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.