Ye Games of Ol’ Have Returned!

Giant Robot ask me contribute to Game Over, a group show of art inspired by video games.

Growing up in a strip mall in the suburbs of Los Angeles I quickly learned the value of a dollar.  Each day after school I would go to the dry cleaners that my parents owned and operated.  Of the eight businesses in this generic American marketplace, I had gained employment at four.  One dollar for taking out the trash and one dollar for vacuuming.  I was ten years old and pulling in eight dollars a day!  That translated to one Nintendo game per week!  I easily had 50+ Nintendo game cartridges by the time that Super Nintendo had shown its face.  For the art show I was conflicted.  Which of these memorable games would I choose to represent as the excuse for my childhood obesity and poor school grades?  The more traditional classics came to mind: Super Mario Bros. (too overdone), Mega Man (too obvious), Rampage (too King Kong/ Godzilla), and Castlevania (too scary).  My feelings of defeat had become overwhelming and the likelihood of me doing something that felt uninspired was inevitable.  To my surprise, my much younger sister recalled a game that I could hardly believe she remembered, Joust!

Joust was a game that I remembered playing for hours on end.  A player controlled a knight piloting a flying ostrich to defeat evil knights flying vultures.  But slaying an evil knight was not enough, because the evil knight would always drop an egg that would hatch into a furious and frenzied doppelganger of himself who was much more difficult to slay.  The only solution was to reach the unhatched evil baby and stomp it to pieces.  Take that evil baby!  In addition to this complex plot line, players had to also avoid death by not venturing too close to a lava pit from which spawned a giant hand of magma trying to pull its victims to a fiery grave and from a pterodactyl made of lava (By the Gods! What manner of beast be thee?!) who reared its ugly invincible head when players lollygagged on a level.  In two player mode, alliances were made and easily broken when one player may or may not have “accidentally” skewered his ally.  Figure A, clearly my vision of the crusading white knight, and Figure B, my idea of the evil black knight inspired by General Kael from “Willow”.  Ahhh, Joust.  I love thee and I wish that your iPad version had better controls.

I’ve been curious if anybody reads this stuff.  If you do, shoot me an email.  I’ll be check my inbox every seven minutes for the next week in anticipation.

If you are free, come out to Giant Robot 2 this Saturday and checkout the art.  I’ll be there and that’s reason enough!

http://www.giantrobot.com/events/gr2-june-2-june-27th-2012-game-over-video-game-culture-art-exhibition/