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.