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

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