Pixel art : just nostalgia ?

Pixel art seemed to capture the attention of parts of the blogosphere earlier this week. Lots of people were asking the question: Is pixel art just about nostalgia & video game fanboyism, or is it something more ? In my opinion this ‘debate’ is about as dumb as the “Are videogames art ?” debate. Of course videogames can be art, and of course pixel art is about more than nostalgia. Duh.

Anyhow, here’s a little link-o-rama with some views ….

(a shoutout to the memecore blog, run by a GrandMasterPixel player that found this video right about the same time I did)

And .. in response, a series of tweets, in reverse chronological order, by Sean Howard, the creator of the web comic A Modest Destiny and sharer of wicked cool ideas in game design.

sqorgar tweets:

Point 5: Nostalgia is certainly part of pixel art, but it is not the purpose. It doesn’t justify it, explain it, or define it.about 3 hours ago via web
Point 4: Rather than pixel art being an abstraction of reality, pixel art is a self contained reality in which the art happens.about 3 hours ago via web
Point 3: For some people, pixel art is a type of expression. For others, it is a type of autism. It makes sense in ways other forms do not.about 3 hours ago via web
Point 2: Consoles weren’t the only things to game on. I learned pixel art from Fat Bits on a Mac Plus. My pixels weren’t blurry.about 3 hours ago via web
Point 1: Jason Rohrer is always wrong. His opinion has anti-meaning. It’s not even correct by accident. It sucks beauty from the world.about 3 hours ago via web

I don’t quite get the antipathy towards Jason Rohrer. I like his work, although I haven’t heard him speak much. Sean has a point though about consoles vs. computers – I never had a real gaming console, but I did play with non-blurry pixels on a computer as a kid.

Ars Technica also chimes in with some views – summary: pixel art remains popular because it’s an interesting art form and a useful form of communication – the nostalgia factor is just a bonus.

5000th pic submitted to GrandMasterPixel !

Yup, another milestone. It has been just over two months since GrandMasterPixel went into beta testing on the Android Market. This week, the 5000th picture was entered into the Arena to battle it out.

Congratulations to “lava floe” by meant2live218 — lucky number 5000 !

lava floe by meant2live218

No prizes, apart from the glory of being randomly featured here :)

This is obviously a topical pic, inspired by Eyjafjallajökull’s recent activity. But did any one else notice ? Volcano-related pics seemed to start mysteriously appearing in GrandMasterPixel long before the world media was banging on about Eyjafjallajökull erupting. Spooky – it’s almost like GrandMasterPixel players can predict the future. Only time will tell :)

Two adventure games for fans of lowres pixel art

I figure the bunch of talented artists playing GrandMasterPixel may occasionally read this blog, so I thought I’d highlight two pretty cool pixel art games I discovered (between dealing with GMP support requests, feedback, suggestions and bugfixes).

First up: The Maze of Madness (2.0), by Phil Hassey. This is one part text-based choose-your-own-adventure and one part pixel art. Players themselves build the world, by creating ‘locations’ which consist of a pixel art image and a series of actions or exits. It also has inventory, where you draw the objecs ! I can remember when this game first started, with just the original Maze, but since then Phil has expanded things to enable people to make completely new mazes too. It can all get a bit crazy and psychedelic, but it’s worth a look.

The Maze of MADNESS (at the beach)

Second, and more recently released – PlayPen, by Farbs. Similar in many ways to The Maze of Madness, but with higher resolution images and ‘hotspots’ for navigation between locations rather than simple text links. Pretty cool that it has been based on the MediaWiki codebase too – it could basically be used to create Pixel-pedia. There is even a Tumblr blog of the Best of PlayPen. This make me think I should probably do something like a “Best of GrandMasterPixel” tumbelog highlighting the best pics in GMP, but I’m hoping the the rankings pages will mostly fulfill that role once I overhaul them to include more than just best of all-time overall rankings.

PlayPen (looking at the cactus)

Both these games are really designed for desktop browsers, and while they kinda sorta work on the Android browser to play the adventures they won’t work very well if you want to contribute content by drawing. I’d stick with the desktop browser if you are checking ’em out.