by Cody "Micajah" Bye, Managing Editor

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by Joe Mirabello, Publicity Manager for Dominance War /
Environment Artist for 38 Studios

Have you ever wanted to pit your creative talents against another human
being simply to see if you were the best? If you're a writer, vocalist,
or artist, there's always that little bit of nagging doubt clawing at
your brain and receiving a confirmation of your talents - or
constructive critique to improve those talent - from your peers is a
vitally important part of any artist's creative evolution.

So when several veteran video game artists found that there was little
in the way of artistic contests or critiquing opportunities for budding video game talent, those same individuals began what is known
as Dominance War,
an annual video game art competition that's drawing
some big attention from major development studios. Over the past week,
I've been corresponding with Joe Mirabello, the publicity manager for
the contest and an environment artist at 38 Studios, about the
Dominance War contest and the part he plays in this immense event!

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Andy Nisbet

Ten Ton Hammer: What is
Dominance War? How does it work?

style="font-weight: bold;">Joe Mirabello: To
give you a quick idea of what the contest is;
Dominance War
is an annual video game art competition. Over the years a
lot of online game art communities have sprouted up, and the Dominance
War was created as a way to encourage friendly competition, and
communication between them. It’s become an international
competition, aimed at helping young artists grow, letting veterans show
off their stuff, and sharing tips and techniques. It’s also
become a sort of ‘Olympics of Game Art’, allowing
skilled artists to really gain recognition within the global art

The theme for the contest is a little different every year, though
it’s always been character-based. This is the first year that
the theme has been more fantasy, and less sci-fi based. I’m
not sure how many participants we have so far, but last year there were
four forums and hundreds of completed entries. This year
there’re nine forums—and the contest is being run
in five languages simultaneously, so I imagine we’ll have a
whole lot of artists reaching the finish line.

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Chris Moffit

Ten Ton Hammer: How long
have you been involved with the contest?

style="font-weight: bold;">Joe: I've been
involved in some fashion since day one! The contest is
three years old, and grew out the now now-defunct Fred
Hultqvist was moderating a semi-monthly game art competition there,
which was much smaller in scope, and he decided it would be interesting
to have a cross-forum contest with rival forum, That was
how Dominance War began. I never finished my entry that year, but
shortly after I took over Fred's role with's monthly
contests while he started up Fred reprised his role
as Dominance War master-of-ceremonies the following winter and the
contest grew to include 3dTotal and Cgtalk as well. I took on the role
'General' for cgchat's side; keeping everyone active, posting critiques
and encouraging and managing cgchat's involvement. I also started
helping out with getting the contest's name "out there", which led to
my role today as publicity manager. Hopefully the contest will continue
to grow to become something the gamers and artists everywhere look to
to see who's who in game art.

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Mark Morgan

Ten Ton Hammer: Are you
looking for only top tier artists? Or is anyone
allowed to enter?

style="font-weight: bold;">Joe: ANYONE is
encouraged to enter, and entering is free! Not only
that, but this year it's aimed at 2D artists as well as even if
someone doesn't know how to model in 3d it still doesn't stop them from
getting involved. All an artist needs to do is decide which 'forum' of
the nine they'd like to align themselves to for the contest and then
sign up through Everyone from seasoned game
artist veterans to budding students are welcome! One of the goals of
Dominance War is to get new people excited about game art and get them
involved with the forums.

Ten Ton Hammer: Aside
from 38 Studios, do you know of any other MMORPG
artists in the contest?

style="font-weight: bold;">Joe: Well, 38
Studios is involved as a sponsor--it's the individuals
who enter. Speaking as an employee of 38 Studios now, a sponsorship
means we offer support and prizes and are watching the contest pretty
close. Curt (Schilling) seemed as excited about the contest as the art
team was, and he's encouraged all of us to enter and kick butt. As for
participating artists from other MMO studios...well, it would be a
pretty big task to go track them all down. I've come across artists
from EA Mythic, CCP, Turbine, Slipgate Ironworks, but I haven't gone
and checked thoroughly. I'm sure people from Blizzard, NCsoft,
ArenaNet, and SOE are either involved or at least watching the

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Paul Greveson

Ten Ton Hammer: Do you
know of any success stories emerging from
Dominance War?

Joe: Yep!
People get jobs through these sorts of contests all the time.
I myself got my first industry gig from a game art competition on, and I can name quite a few others who could say similar.
Usually with Dominance War it's been the case that the top winners have
already got jobs they're quite happy with, but they've been asked to
conduct interviews, had articles printed about them, and really gotten
their names on the 'map'. But someone doesn't have to be a grand prize
winner to get noticed; just getting involved, finishing, and doing well
will get an artist loads of exposure. Oftentimes it's producers, art
directors and lead artists who judge the contest--and they'll be
flipping through every single finalist. Companies have begun to look at
Dominance War and the participating forums like 'training camps' and
they'll be scouting for someone who is skilled, professional, and
amiable. If you're fresh out of school and struggling to find contacts
in the industry--this is where you make them!

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016