I am 8-bit

The new I am 8-bit exhibition opened in Los Angeles on Tuesday. I wish I could be there. Destructoid has a lot of photos of the art, go check it out.

This just goes to show that for a lot of our generation, and even moreso with the next generation, videogames are a part of life – and thus a part of art. I’ve seen videogame influences in the work of some modern artists, which really struck a chord with me, hitting it home that these games really are played by so many people, it’s sometimes weird how geeky it all appears.


Bookshelf: Everything Bad Is Good For You.

I got my copy of the much-hyped cultural work of yesteryear yesterday. I finished the opening section on videogames this morning on the commute. The book’s tagline is “how popular culture is making us smarter” and the theme is precisely that: watching new-wave TV shows and playing videogames is actually beneficial, but not in the manner we’re used to discuss.

It was inspirational to finally see someone who gets games and pop culture at large to discuss games seriously. The author makes the case that videogames are not storytelling devices – they are educational. And no, not in the hand-eye coordination sense, but rather exploration, logical deduction, splitting of tasks into manageable chunks and so on. (The skills learned given the labels “probing” and “telescoping”.)

The age-old accusation of being mindless entertainment for the lazy is dismissed very effectively, simply by pointing out at that playing most of the popular videogames is bastard hard – so hard, in fact, that a novice stands next to no chance of figuring out what he’s supposed to do and how. What the average videogamer doesn’t realize is that this is precisely what makes the games attractive and beneficial. You rarely know how a game works from the get-go: a satisfying game experience is one of constant learning, trial and error. Compared to reading books, watching movies or comparable activities, playing videogames is masochistic on the surface: you’re punished time and time again and you need to figure things out on your own.

Inspirational and enlightening stuff. It’s also a very quick and easy read. Recommended!


Nostalgia defined: Zzap!64 #41

Zzap!64 magazine, cover of issue 41
Zzap!64, issue 41

Oh god, this takes me back with a bang. Seriously, I’m overcome here.

The cover image is of the first magazine I ever bought, also the first English language publication I ever read. I must have read that magazine hundreds of times, 19 years ago (1988).

I did buy every Zzap!64 I could from then on, but I’m not sure where I stopped. Might be issue #73 from 1991, at least it’s the last one I recall the cover of. Logical, too, I would’ve just gone to junior high around then and been very much into Warhammer miniatures and roleplaying games, which would’ve eaten up all of my allowance. Thanks a bunch Games Workshop, you soulless bastards! (Just kidding, miniatures were actually cheap back then, I just didn’t have much pocket money.)

That cover featuring Last Ninja 2 is the single most influential visual in my life, I think, loved ones’ features notwithstanding.

The Def Guide to Zzap!64 site comes recommended to all the C=64 kids out there. Actually I’m being a bit shady here, as I never had a C=64, just the souped-up C=128D version.