How To Look at Video Game Posters

  © Copyright 2018 Vincent Maher, Ryerson University.

Call of Duty Black Ops III: Zetsubou No Shima. ©Activision 2016.


Call of Duty Black Ops III served as the 2015 entry for the Call of Duty franchise, developed by Treyarch Studios and published by Activision Co.

During Black Ops III’s lifecycle, downloadable content (DLC) was added to the game throughout 2016 to ensure there was an increased and continued player base continuing to interact with the game. One of the main contributors that has traditionally pushed the sales of the DLCs produced by Treyarch is the mode, Zombies.

In the four DLCs offered during Black Ops III’s life cycle, they offered the Zombies map titled “Zetsubou No Shima” in the second DLC pack titled “Eclipse”. Its goal was to continue to build on Black Ops III’s overall Zombies base content and story, while creating a unique narrative that stands on its own.

Since the poster design was meant to advertise the Zombies map, there’s a constructed narrative given to the players so they had an idea for what they were about to play before booting up their console. This also contributed to the players’ decision of whether or not they would want to purchase the DLC to access and unlock Zetsubou No Shima as a playable level.

The frame of the poster is compact with an effective and precise representation of the map’s environment, and the characters who are taking part in the dangerous scenario of the map.

So first, is the color pattern. Basing the map’s location on an isolated island, Treyarch’s designers had fit this poster with a luscious green and blue to represent the luscious environment used to represent the island location with the barren trees and glowing blue meteors. Looking at the right side, at the top, the branches and trees that have the face of one character, Takeo Masaki, blending into the scenery. This has a big significance towards the challenges that would have ultimately focused on Takeo’s character development.

Surrounding the background, besides the barren tress and luscious forest, are a showcase of one of the threats that are present within the setting. Spiders.

The three main characters that stand at the center (from left to right), Edward Richtofen, Nikolai Belinski, and “Tank” Dempsey, are posing with guns in their hands in a tense stance, ready to fight. The reasoning for placing them at the center, plays with the idea that they are surrounded by the thick vegetation, threatening horrors, and the journey of Takeo.

Beneath the characters at the center, since they stand knee deep in water, shows that there is another threatening horror, the un-dead, concealed and emerging out of sight. The zombies themselves below the water surface are shown to be reaching up as if trying to breach the surface that separates them from the rest of the poster. This also is complementary towards how the Zetsubou is separated from the No Shima in the featured title card design on the top right with the splitting them apart.


Works Cited

Elkins, James. “How to Use Your Eyes.” (2000)

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.