Archive for August, 2008

We Are 8-Bit

The fourth year of I Am 8-Bit opens tonight in LA — the ever-creative art show featuring videogames re-imagined by artists who grew up with them (or wish they did). Past years have had a broad spectrum from cutesy to badass to rude. (Could anyone who’s played Dig Dug not have seen this coming?) Not everything hits a home run, but that’s what makes the whole thing fun.

Nearly forgotten, I love seeing the most memorable bits of games I grew up with carried forward to become part of pop culture once again, in art, music, clothes, Honda ads. It’s become part of our DNA. Still, you gotta miss the arcades we used to live in. There’s something about those dark rooms punctuated by luminous screens mapped onto mesmerized player faces that home games will never quite duplicate. (The pages of JoyStik capture it well.)

Back then, it seemed like every week brought a new game: ones that felt flawless (the neon vector spikes of Theurer’s Tempest) and others hopelessly broken (days lost misjudging wall heights in Zaxxon). Remember when the visceral feel when Daytona USA first took hold? You never forget your first time. (Maybe that’s why I like that Dig Dug piece so much, eh?)

ia8b amplifies those memories; it’s made me an addict. (I still sport my pixelated excitebike shirt from the first show in 2005.) But I’ve never seen it in person. Until then, us New Yorkers will have to settle for late nights of classic gaming at the fabulous Barcade Brooklyn. I feel a river crossing coming on.

i am 8-bit 2k8 runs through September 7. Catch up on past shows on flickr. For more on 8-bit culture, see Past Prefect and Blip!

images via iam8bit and barcade

Bollywood: The Videogame

In India, Bollywood is king. You see it on TV, in stores, on the streets. So, I guess I shouldn’t have surprised me to find the Bollywood Playstation in Delhi. Love at first sight. (If only I could speak Hindi!)

The game industry in India is an interesting thing. Alongside the Bollywood box were a ton of titles for PS2, PS3, and Xbox 360. Wii, on the other hand, had just one slot in the rack, filled with just one trashy title: Alone in the Dark. Go figure.

It seems strange that Wii, which has done so well in Japan, wouldn’t have done at least passibly in the rest of Asia. One theory for India is that the culture is so IT focused (nearly 40% of jobs are in the sector) that specs rule, and certainly Sony and Microsoft are the ones wielding the big mips. That probably explains the Xbox 360 emblazoned with the mug of a Bollywood star being hawked on TV, too. (Where do I get me one?)

I’ve heard Bollywood games referred to as niche titles. But Bollywood is bigger than Hollywood in terms of tickets sold. And with growth close to China’s and a population set to pass them in short order, it’s only a matter of time before Indians start buying games; lots of them. More games with brown people on the cover? That can only be a good thing.

For more on the growing influence of Bollywood, see Hollywood goes Bollywood! And while you’re at it, rock out to some classic Dil Se and new school Singh is Kinng.

E-mail It