writer, speaker, content creator

Rock Your Pixels Off

In Music, Video Games on April 27, 2009 at 4:44 pm

I love video games. I don’t think I’ll ever really get over them entirely. When I was a kid I cared way more about Mario than Mickey and recently I’ve had a good portion of my brain eaten by Grand Theft Auto IV, a game that’s probably better written than most TV shows. When I see people mix up the trappings of video games in their work, I’m generally interested, and I think that if Warhol had lived long enough he would have done a few prints featuring Mario. Apropos of nothing, here’s a bunch of video game-laced musical things.

This video is probably one of the more awesome things that I’ve seen on the internet in a while. The video below is not game footage. It’s certainly inspired by Megaman, but all of it is the work of a guy called Myk Dawg, who’s made a few unofficial game-like videos. Kanye West really ought to just buy off this video from him and use it, as it fits well with West’s aesthetic. Take a look.

(HD) Kanye West – Robocop (1988 import version) from Myk Dawg on Vimeo.

I love this type of stuff. Nothing gets my nostalgia going like 8-bit games. Another group, Desert Planet, is sort of the audio-equivalent of this, as all of their music is intentionally made to sound like it’s from a video game.

What surprises me about these videos and music is the realization that I’m attracted to a certain kind of technological imperfection. Visible pixilation was not initially the result of any kind of artistic process. It was an artifact of technological limitation. Had the developers of Pac-Man had their way, Pac-Man would have probably have looked more like this:

And less like this:

I personally prefer the second image. As irrational as it is, I find the second image to be “warmer” or more “authentic” in some kind of way, but I know that that’s simply the result of nostalgia and conditioning. People who say they prefer the sound of vinyl to digital music are usually fooling themselves, and I know that I’m sort of fooling myself with my experience of the pixelated image, but I enjoy it anyway.

Anyway, here’s another video, but this time it’s a cover of actual video game music with footage of an actual video game:

I couldn’t post about this stuff without including The Minibosses, a band I’ve known about for some time and do some rocking covers of old 80s games. The video is amusing enough, but I distinctly remembering Castlevania III being only one player.

This sort of stuff reminds me that art doesn’t really need to be realistic or accurate. That’s obvious, when you think about it. I’m far away from being a luddite, and I think it’s great that the images that jump out of modern video games and CGI movies are more realistic than every. Realism, though, is a tool. It’s something that can aide and enforce emotional reactions in the viewer, but it’s not a prerequisite for something to be good.

Think about this: One of the most popular game ever is Dungeons and Dragons specifically, and RPGs in general. RPGs don’t have any graphics. Players might use drawings and models, but these are static. The experience is not diminished by the absence of realistic representation. If anything the addition of animated images would distract from the experience. It’s all about what’s going on in the player’s heads, not what’s going on in front of their eyes.

Anyways, I’m a sucker for this retro stuff, and I’m sure I’m not alone. A whole slew of twentysomethings are probably going to remember the NES and Atari 2600 in much the same way that our parents remember the Beatles. That will be sort of trip- think of the future equivalent of VH1 specials.

Anyway, here’s another video. It’s newer, yes, but still cool. A very talented dude plays Zelda music. I quite dig his light-up hat and use of kitchen implements.

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