Art directors are pretty much one of the most important jobs for games they are responsible for setting the visual tone, quality and style of the game They are not responsible for making anything but they have a indirect responsibility for every object, texture, level, character and effect in games which is a pretty big deal they have to be involved in nearly everything in a game which is a huge responsibility. They have to decide how everything looks in the game in which to make it suit the scene better. This is important as you would want the wrong props in the wrong level and this is because the art director has to make sure everything looks right. You would want like a dust bin in the middle of a ruined building? Or a toilet in a kitchen of a house (though that maybe a good idea for lazy people)
I would say an Art director’s role is very creative in the sense that he has to decide if everything looks good and how it should be if it’s not. If a character doesn’t look right to the art director he has to be creative and decide what would make him look better even if it’s a quick drawing or notes next to the character on what he thinks the character designer should do to make this character look more interesting. A art director would also have to go over and be creative about all the props in a game like where tree’s go where a crack on a wall would be places and even the objects that a near a character like a NCP. To make the NCP more believable the art direct would have to decide what would be suitable for the NCP like if it was an Alchemist in a RPG the NCP would have scrolls and books around him to suggest he’s been studying them.
To me the difference between An art director in a film compared to a game is that in a game the art director must consider props and views from every angle where as a film is only base on one camera angle that is in a controlled environment. Where in a game the camera angle is left mostly to the player so everything has to look good from whatever angle the player decides to look at stuff.
If I was looking to be an art director in the future I think you need the following qualities:
Good judgement from real life scenarios
A good Understanding of Physics
A good knowledge of 3D programs and how to model and how to create good textures
A good understanding of market trends and styles
There is a lot more I could add to this but for now I think these are quiet important as to make a game believable it has to seem like real life in most cases.
A good understanding of Physics on how effects will look in games like if something explodes then gravity will have an effect on the explosive and cause rubble to fall to the ground. Along with wind and lighting.
I think the 3D program explains its self as you can’t be a good director unless you know how someone make the object you see.
A good understanding of market trends and styles as overall the game has to sell and if the game isn’t what the market is asking for then it most like won’t sell.