Atari, the letterpress of art-game design

Game critic and designer Ian Bogost’s latest project, A Slow Year, takes an poetic approach to the art-game. Exploring the texture of the eighties-era Atari 2600, A Slow Year consists of four games, one for each season of the year, accompanied by a book-length collection of computer-generated poems, which calls Bogost calls “machined haiku.” Clearly, Bogost’s work plays with the nostalgia many gamers of a certain age feel for the mid-eighties system (with Nick Montfort, Bogost wrote Racing the Beam, a study of the technological and cultural ground broken by the Atari 2600). But Bogost also makes a bold claim for the intrinsic aesthetic appeal of older systems, arguing that constraining technologies may produce timeless forms. “Just as we might still choose to write a sonnet,” Bogost points out, or “take a black and white photograph, paint with oil on canvas, or construct relief prints with a letterpress, so we can also choose to write new games for a machine like the Atari.”

A Slow Year sells for $19.95 on CD for Mac and Windows with accompanying book; a sumptuous boxed limited edition with an Atari game cassette can be had for $500 as well.

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One comment

  1. I both enjoy and respect this take on game design. I work at a game design firm and I have a couple of colleagues who are still riding the “it’s all about complex graphics” train. And while this can be true, I believe the value coefficients of Graphics v Playability are 1:2, respectively.

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