13 April 2009

Videogame Nostalgia, Real & Imagined.

[My recent post on Paul Robertson's work serves as partial inspiration for the following.]

I kind of miss playing videogames.

If you're a 70s baby like me, memories of your childhood are most likely punctuated by colorful visions of videogames played on consoles beginning with the Atari 2600 (yes, even square-ass bootleg Pac-Man) and the occasional epic excursion to the almighty video arcade1. Over time, console technology progressively advanced and games became better in every conceivable way -- as did my gaming experiences themselves. I acutely remember:
  • playing Donkey Kong, wide-eyed, for the first time on the 2600;
  • the incredible rush of beating Contra on the NES;
  • attempting to play MarioKart 64, out of control and happily drunk as hell on cheap vodka2;
  • the awe at seeing Gran Turismo racers hug corners on the PlayStation;
  • being enthralled by the painstakingly-crafted Grand Theft Auto 3 on the PS2;
  • the intense satisfaction of stomping alien ass in Gears Of War on the XBox 360 ...
... among numerous other fun memories. However, as much as I like watching and playing videogames, I don't think I've ever considered myself a "gamer." The last console I actually owned was a PS2, and even that was given to me as an awesome gift -- I don't think I would've bought it for myself otherwise. And currently, there's not a videogame system to be found in my apartment.

So I guess the thing I miss the most about videogames is the social aspect of playing, whether it's trying to blast each other's goofy pixelated tank in Combat, shredding axes with family members in Guitar Hero or running around on Mongooses3 with three friends in the Halo universe. Playing these games, competitively or cooperatively, with other people is the biggest reason I was drawn to them in the first place. Even if I did have my old PS2 here, I really don't think I would play. There's no one to share the experience with.

Switching gears: Videogame box art, like the playing experience, has definitely improved over the years and deserves its own genre (peep some classic artwork and some awesome fan-made pieces). But what would the artwork look like if videogames had been around back in the 1950s-1960s? Every week, Something Awful holds Photoshop Phridays, where people create images based on a certain theme. Recently the concept was "Classy Games" where artists were challenged to come up with retro-inspired artwork to grace a videogame box. Browse the submissions here [Part 1, Part 2, Bonus Images], but owing to my love of minimalist, clean design, here are the ones that caught my eye:

Some of these are dope enough to frame. Enjoy.

1Speaking of arcades, reading this thread made me strangely sad and nostalgic. Biggie, you were right -- things done changed.
2We were ultimately unsuccessful at "racing" and predictably, motion sickness and vomiting ensued. I do not recommend this. Actually wait, I do. You only live once, you know.

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