If you think of art direction as being responsible for the art of a game from idea to final. There are many ideas or concepts involved in making a video game, the art director decides which of these ideas go forward, Like the game board you take a lot of steps to reach the goal, except nothing is left to chance, every tiny detail is considered.
Art directors can be envolved in films, games, advertising, publishing. The main difference in my opinion from an art director for films and an art director for games would be that an art director for a film would be responsible for that one film. An art director for games may be responsible for many different titles being worked on inside the games company.
An art director is described as being a vital role, in other words the game could not be made without them. An art director is so important because they are responsible for every aspect of a game, if indirectly.
Art directors do not physically make the assets for a game but it is there job to decide the look and feel, quality, style of everything in a video game.
They need to make sure that everything fits into a believable universe. The feel must be right, even tiny details such as props must support the story of the game. Every little detail must be considered. Nothing is left to chance. This includes how things will be perceived from every perspective possible.
Video games cost millions of pounds/dollars to make so it is the responsibility of the art director to make sure everything is just so. If they fail to consider anything at all the worst case scenario is that the game wont sell and the game company they work for will suffer or maybe go out of business. There reputation ruined. That is one heck of a responsibility.
No thanks, I wouldn't like that much responsibility, not at this level, but with so much at stake they would need to be damn good at there jobs. The skills they would need would be immense. Excellent management, organisation skills. They would need to be respectful of the ideas of there team but also critical so they could turn small ideas in larger concepts.
As there would be a deadline for the game that was being made, quick decision making would also be a vital skill. They would continue to learn new skills with every project they directed and apply those new skills to the next.
Probably the most important set of skills they would need are traditional art skills.
Art direction is a creative role because an art director must posses extensive knowledge of the craft. To do this they must be traditionally trained. They direct the art , all of the art, there fore they must have an extensive understanding of the art.
They need to fit everything into context, make sure it has style and purpose and make sure these ideas are executed well. For example if an important object in the game needed the attention from the player in order for the game play to run smoothly they would have to find ways of making that object noticeable, strong visuals maybe, appropriate lighting to ensure the object would be in direct view of the player. That is but one example for one thing. They would need to do this for absolutely everything. I know i have said that previously but it is phenomenal just how much work and skill that would involve.
And that is just th etip of a very large iceberg.