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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Fan Fiction: I've Been Wrong Before

I realized recently that my I Art Video Games: Nostalgia vs. Cinemania post had a major flaw: It contrasts works that reference early arcade-style games with others made using MMORPGs and other contemporary computer games in a way that suggests that the creators involved were working toward the same purpose: the creation of an artistic statement. In fact, much of the "nostalgic" work I showcased might be better categorized as "fan fiction" - works created to celebrate the subject rather than critique it. I won't push that distinction too far, because both types of work explore the subject/style on a personal level and may contribute meaning to viewers beyond what the original provides. All I'm saying is that this commonality is less significant than what divides these two types of work, and I may have been comparing apples to oranges and then declaring the oranges less apple-like.

This realization came to me when, after playing around a bit making desktop wallpapers using the real wallpaper patterns I found here thanks to the Drawn! blog, I started reading Wikipedia's wonderful "List of video games considered the worst ever." (A screenshot from the 1983 game E.T.: The Extraterrestrial is shown at left.) The article has copious references and covers a broad spectrum of offenses ranging from sheer unplayability to explicit homophobia or racism, but its cavalier attitude and confident tone have earned it a dispute flag for its questionable neutrality - in other words, it may disappear after the wiki editors have their wiki way, so read it while you can.

Some of the titles reminded me of my own long-forgotten favorites, and I suddenly started seeing game levels in many of the wallpaper patterns I was already rifling through, so I decided to make some "homage" pieces to some of my favorite old video games. If my pre-teen and teenage gaming experience were a Go-Bot, it would be built out of a Texas Instruments Home Computer, an IBM PC clone capable of running Sierra and early Electronic Arts games for thirty-six hours straight, numerous friends' Nintendo Entertainment Systems, and a mineshaft's worth of quarters spent in arcades and convenience stores during my largely wasted youth. As a memento mori to those days from someone who now owns a Mac and can't even be bothered to find out if Spore will be released on my adopted platform, the collages below were fun, pointless, and deeply satisfying: the essence of fandom. Below are the fruits of my labors.



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Screwed

The Gauntlet II gamespace is 2-D, but I remembered it in three. This level is sort of a Moebius strip, I guess. This game had an impressive square footprint at the arcade and ate my quarters like Smarties.



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Pitfall In Paradise

I found this game very frustrating to play on my Texas Instruments Home Computer. Never could get the rhythm down with those vines. Free idea for an entrepreneur: Video game theme park. Let us live out our 80s video games in a live-action format and we will pay you handsomely. All you need for this one is some ropes, a log, a shovel and a scorpion.



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Frogger: Contagion

The big red things will eat you whole. The rest of the stuff just poisons you slowly.


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Contra


Here are a couple I didn't make:

Hunt the Wumpus
(cut apart shapes and piece together partial map with red dots, bat, etc.)

QBert
(placement of creatures makes field look comically 2.5-D)


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2 comments:

ocelot67 said...

Very nice. Did you find any that look like Robotron?

Anonymous said...

Found this on Joystiq I think.
Funny stuff, very creative.

I thought no-one remembered Hunt the Wumpus on the TI but me.
Please make something involving Hunt the Wumpus.

then let me konw about it - oswegocomics@yahoo.com

-Michael