The art director in any game studio has the rather overwhelming task of managing the entire art style of a game along with the overall visual communication between the game and the player. This also includes the implementation of those clever psychological tricks to portray certain places or scenarios.
An example of this, albeit a film (Black Hawk Down) shows the US soldiers retreating back to the safe zone while being chased by the militia.
Note the washed out unwelcoming hues of blue in the image along with the almost silhouette black outlines of the militia on top of the hill. This portrays a more fearsome or unwelcoming appearance and heightens the sense of urgency/gota get the hell out of here, for the vulnerable soldiers.
The more you look into the position of art direction, the more complex and interesting it seems to become. For example, the art director has the responsibilities of laying out the entire foundation for the game whether this is how the vehicles in a game will look like or the levels of particular details put into textures. One interesting point from researching this position is the close communication between the art director and the game designer. Both are responsible for creating the foundation of a game and in a sense, make or a break a game from the get go.
However, art direction itself comes in many forms and is not always the easiest thing to spot at first glance. Subliminal techniques are added to games and films to portray diversity between two scenes or the good and bad guys. this can for example be done with choosing to have warm soft colours for scenes with the good guys with a contrast of dark and cold colours and lighting for the bad folk.
Despite this, art direction does differ between games and films. The main difference is that games bring another medium into the mix and that is the player. this requires a more delicate approach in a sense of creating the world around the player. Every model, asset, character etc must conform to the overall worlds art style. this is particularly challenging when you take into account that there are undoubtedly going to be technical restrictions along with the fact that the world will be created by numerous people.
Other such tasks involved with being an art director are keeping consistency throughout the production pipeline in the studio. This includes cooperation with the lead artist who has a high technical and art skill. Both must work together in order to create design documents for props and evaluate the work completed by artists at the studio to ensure quality, quantity of work and some good'ol constructive feedback such as areas to possibly improve.
However, I personally think a good art director obviously needs the above skills but im starting to understand that communication between the art director and leads is crucial to the games success and the overall studios success at working together to create an awesome game!