The Game Boy was hugely influential in the gaming industry, playing its part in bringing video games into the mainstream. It’s still very likable despite its limitations, from its basic specs that limited its gaming range, all the way to its modest screen. However, these limitations can be a strength in the right hands.
This is well highlighted in the tweet below from pixel artist Claes Benjaminson, showing off some of the work produced on the Nintendo classic handheld.
As you can see in the details of the tweet, these photos are part of the “Frontiers of Memory” exhibition at the Fabrice Museum Center in Tampere, Finland. The exhibition is unfortunately coming to an end soon, on June 6, and had an interesting approach to displaying artwork. Featuring the works of nine artists, it is designed to highlight the power of platforms such as the Game Boy to spark imagination and inspire gamers.
For an entire generation of kids growing up in the ’90s, the Game Boy was their “PC”. It wasn’t just another piece of hardware, but it was their first private screen that adventures could be on, often without parental involvement. In the schoolyard with friends, or under a blanket with a flashlight, worlds can be discovered on its small, dim, four-color screen. All you need is a little imagination to bring these pixelated worlds back to life.
Playing is never a one-way act of consumption. A good game impresses the player. It is taken and transformed, and tickles the imagination of whoever plays it. The magic of the Game Boy has inspired children to fill in the gaps games didn’t want to express, to dream their own worlds and express their own ideas. For some, these experiences sparked a career in art.
The limits of memory bring this full circle. For each of our nine artists, the Game Boy has become a vehicle for their individual ideas, stories, and visions. They’ve created artwork, one pixel at a time, that runs as software on old, original hardware. The Game Boy may or may not be a part of every artist’s history, but through its plastic lens it becomes our window into their memories.
Not many of us will be able to go see the exhibition, but it seems like a great idea that will hopefully be recreated in the future in more locations. Let us know what you think, as always, in the comments.
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