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Mass Effect 3 - Aria

Now in its ninth year, the "Into the Pixel" exhibition brings together the best of the best original video game art as chosen by 10 major players in the gaming and art industries.

This year's event, hosted by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) and Entertainment Software Association (ESA), shines a spotlight on 16 games ranging from Diablo 3 to Journey. You won't see any fan drawings here; these items come straight from the artists responsible for the incredible scenes from this (and next) year's most popular console and PC video games.

The "Into the Pixel" collection will officially be unveiled at the 2012 E3 gaming expo, which takes place June 5-7 in the Los Angeles Convention Center's Concourse Foyer. Some of the still-under-development games selected for the exhibit could make a larger debut at E3.

In this striking image by artist Ben Huen from BioWare's Mass Effect 3, it looks like Aria T'Loak's in a tough situation. But with fire surrounding her and a fist full of energy, she seems ready to take on anyone -- or anything.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Ben Huen (Photoshop)
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Diablo 3 - Leah (close-up)

Leah, Deckard Cain's adopted daughter and research assistant, plays a prominent role in Blizzard's Diablo 3 role-playing game. In this dramatic scene from the end of Act 1, we see the computer-generated Leah express emotion that seems absurdly real. Artists Nick Carpenter, Graham Cunningham, Xin Wang, Chris Thunig, Fausto De Martini, Mathias Verhasselt, Till Aschwanden, Fin Teo, and John Lanz created this truly stunning image.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Various artists (Maya, Renderman, Photoshop, and Nuke)
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Dota 2: Shopkeeper

This shopkeeper from Valve's Defense of the Ancients 2 real-time strategy game seems likely to carry anything one would require to survive in the wild. This picture stands as one of the only chosen selections this year partly created with acrylic paint.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Jim Murray (acrylic and digital)
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Assassin's Creed III: Battle Charge

Set during the American Revolution from 1753 to 1783, Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed III sends the action game franchise into a completely different generation than the previous titles. In this chilling image, we see protagonist Connor Kenway sprinting through the woods in a white cloak while Revolutionary War soldiers run a nearby flank.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:William Wu (Photoshop)
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Halo 4 - Spire Vista

The majestic landscape of the Spire in the upcoming Halo 4 first-person shooter looks absolutely beautiful in this original drawing. Halo 4 stands as the first Halo game created by 343 Studios, which took over the reins from original developer Bungie. Halo 4 arrives on November 6.

Anyone else have recollections of Alan Grant's initial dinosaur discovery scene in a "Jurassic Park" jeep upon seeing this image?

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Updated:Caption:Photo:John Wallin Liberto (Photoshop)
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Journey - The Call to Adventure

Journey, by developer Thatgamecompany, stands out as one of the most beautiful adventure games ever created. In this slightly modified screenshot, you can hopefully see why it earned such accolades.

CNET editor Scott Stein said of Journey: "If games can be art, then Journey is the gaming industry's Oscar-winning animated short. From its beginning to its all-too-quickly-realized end, Journey feels like some haunting cross between a Pixar film and something far more enigmatic, silent, transcendent."

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Matt Nava (In game capture, Photoshop)
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Crazy Fairies - Arabian Night

Crazy Fairies, by developer Spicy Horse (known for Alice: Madness Returns), plans to offer players an elaborate turn-based game set in a fairy tale world. Fairies plays much like the popular Worms series of games, but instead is set against gorgeous backgrounds from fairy tales, such as this scene from the classic story "Arabian Nights." Fairies remains in development, with no release date announced.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Fan Xiao Qing (Photoshop)
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Akaneiro: Demon Hunters - Snow Land

Developer Spicy Horse also created Akaneiro: Demon Hunters, an upcoming free-to-play role-playing game that mixes the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood" with heavy design influences from classic feudal Japan art and landscapes. No release date currently exists for Akaneiro, except for a beta slotted for some time this year.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Ben Kerslake, Sun Guo Liang (Photoshop)
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Ghost Recon: Future Soldier - Refinery Entrance

In Red Storm Entertainment's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier tactical shooter game, players must hunt down the group responsible for a dirty bomb that killed some allies. This gloomy refinery entrance image looks like the perfect setting for sniffing out illegal activities.

"Artists are becoming more and more sophisticated about translating complex storytelling ideas into even the smallest details of the visual environment," said "Into the Pixel" judge Glenn R. Phillips, principal project specialist and consulting curator in the Department of Architecture and Contemporary Art at the Getty Research Institute. "The best works are not only visually exciting and technically accomplished, but they also function as ambient narratives, with the potential to convey large amounts of story in a single image."

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Susan Luo (Photoshop)
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Gravity Rush - Gravity Daze

Gravity Rush, a PlayStation Vita exclusive adventure role-playing game by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, offers players the unique ability to manipulate gravity during gameplay. This startling image of main character Kat standing sideways also graces the cover of the box for the game.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Takeshi Oga (Photoshop)
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Guild Wars 2 - Durmand Priory

While many massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) exist today, few compare to ArenaNet's Guild Wars saga. This piece shows off the Durmand Priory, "a scholarly order dedicated to protecting knowledge and lore," says the official Guild Wars 2 wiki. The monastery hides within the ruins of Beacon's Perch, located between the Northern and Southern Shiverpeaks. Guild Wars 2 should debut sometime this year.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Daniel Dociu (Photoshop)
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Last of Us - broken overpass

Scheduled for release in late 2012 (or early 2013), Naughty Dog's Last of Us adventure/survival game puts players in a post-apocalyptic scenario where survivors must fight off a populace infected by a virus. In this illustration, we see main characters Ellie and Joel sharing a serene moment amid the chaos of a destroyed city.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Shaddy Safadi (Photoshop)
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Dishonored - Regent

Stealth and adventure await sneaky individuals this October with the release of Dishonored, a new series by Arkane Studios. The mood seems suspicious in this sketch of a regal individual descending a flight of red-carpeted stairs.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Sergey Kolesov (Photoshop)
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Skullgirls - Little Insmouth

A drawing of the Little Insmouth stage in the Skullgirls fighting game by Reverge Labs. If the level design doesn't impress you, the soundtrack by Castlevania: Symphony of the Night composer Michiru Yamane might.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Willy Hwang, Alex Ahad (Photoshop)
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Wild East - Gunsmith

Double Helix Games and West Studios collaborated on Wild East, an upcoming game that may make a splash at this year's E3 gaming expo. This portrayal of a weaponsmith's workshop hints at a Japanese setting.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Eytan Zana, Cliff Childs, Tyler West (Photoshop)
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Wipeout 2048 - The 2048 Grid

Wipeout 2048, a PlayStation Vita exclusive by developer Studio Liverpool, puts people in the driver's seat of a steadfast anti-gravity vehicle. You can almost feel the calm before the storm of a race as entrants make some last-minute adjustments to their rides.

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Updated:Caption:Photo:Darren Douglas (Photoshop)
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