Alex's Game.Art Work...

Alex worked on concept art for a game in which a "kobold" named Derk must destroy buildings.

For his final he sculpted the main character out of Sculpy

John Hahn's Game.Art Work...

John's final was a self-portrait made from over 400 Starburst brand candies.

Jackie Frank's Game.Art Work...

Jackie spent her time in class working on concept art for a video game based around a character's ability to walk on clouds; designing many creatures and characters along the way.

For her final she used Sculpy to make a creature from the game.


Ji Han Lew's Game.Art Work..

Ji Han worked on some concept art for a video game in which the user controlled a zombie early on in the class, before shifting his focus towards a video he made utilizing a camera mounted atop a toy car that was pushed alongside an 8' long, hand drawn landscape.

Jennifer Hom's Game.Art work...

Jennifer spent her time in the class developing concept art for a humorous, historically based video game called The American Way.

The main character, Jing:

must escape from a sweatshop in NYC's Chinatown district (circa 1950's);

on the way saving relatives (Wing and Moi) in the sweatshop:

and defeating the boss, Mrs.Jones:

Patrick Lewis' Work from the Game.Art Class...

Patrick, a Junior in the FAV (Film, Animation, Video) department spent time developing concept art for a video game in which the gamer would control the Big Bad Wolf, battling through various Fairy Tale Landscapes and story lines.

For his final he made a puppets of 2 characters from his game, the Big Bad Wolf and a sheep.


The 1,000,000,000 Point Game

By Paul Stokstad
Computer Games Magazine

A billion points. They once said no man would run an under-four-minute mile, and it was done. They said no man would ever break Babe Ruth's home run records, and it was done. They said no man would ever scale Mount Everest, and it was done. But to score a billion - count'em - points at an arcade game! That has never been done. Now there is a feat that is truly impossible. Well, on January 17th, the impossible became possible.

It didn't happen overnight. Actually, it happened over two nights, from 2:00 on Sunday afternoon to 10:45 in the morning on Tuesday, January 17th. That's when 17-year-old Tim McVey of Ottumwa, Iowa nearly collapsed with relief after playing the arcade game Nibbler for 44 hours and 45 minutes. His score - 1,000,042,270 points. Tim was, and still is as we go to press, the only person on earth to score a billion points at an arcade game.

What does it take to score a billion points? Sure, you've got to be a terrific player. You've got to have whip-like reflexes, superior peripheral vision and the strategy to beat all strategies. But you've got to have more. For one thing, you've got to get motivated.

One night Tim McVey strolled into Walter Day's Twin Galaxies in Ottumwa and noticed the hush of attention surrounding Tom Asaki, whom you may remember as a member of the Think Tank that beat Ms. Pac-Man (see Computer Games, April). Tim asked what all the fuss was about, and somebody explained to him that Asaki had been playing the game Nibbler for two days on a single quarter and that he was up to 770 million points. McVey was shocked. He had never heard of anyone getting a score that high. Tom Asaki was hard at work on his quest to be the first person in the world to score a billion points. Asaki failed, but he inspired McVey. He had never even played Nibbler, but wanted to give it a try.

Tim quickly became addicted to Nibbler and started nibbling away at the top scores at the game. Tim and Asaki, both chasing the same dream, started spending a lot of time together and comparing notes. Sometimes they would play a game together, switching off every ten million points. Gradually McVey began to memorize the secret codes on the board that tell you how many men you have left. This is significant information on Nibbler, because you can die out by having too many men as well as none at all.

No matter how good you are and how slick your strategy, you can't even score a lousy million points unless you can marathon. Marathoning means having the endurance and stamina to play for long periods of time. It's not uncommon for a guy to collapse with exhaustion in the middle of a marathon game, or for his bicep muscle to just spasm up and call it quits. A few months ago, a guy named Chris Emory was marathoning Q*Bert at Twin Galaxies and he fell asleep three times in the middle of the game. Each time he nodded off, his friends picked him up and threw him in the shower in the back of the arcade. Mark Klug, who holds the world record at Pole Position, got so tired during a game that he rested his arms by driving the qualifying laps with his feet. Running a 26-mile marathon race almost seems easy compared to staring intently into a little glowing screen for two days, concentrating the whole time.

Walter Day has observed that the better arcade game marathoners seem to be physically big guys. There's no scientific data, but big guys just seem to be able to stay awake and alert longer. Tim McVey is just 5'8", but solid. There's one more factor that goes into a billion-point game - the game. Tom Asaki didn't pick Nibbler because he liked the game so much. Actually, it's a fairly mediocre game. But it is a high-scoring game. Nibbler has what Walter Day calls "the highest points per hour threshold" This means that you can score a lot of points in a relatively short amount of time. Asaki considered going for the billion on Robotron, but it occurred to him that it would take about a week of nonstop play...with no sleep. Some games make it impossible to score a billion. Q* Bert, for instance, causes strange things to happen. Five separate people have reported that after playing the game for long periods of time, they would start hallucinating! The configuration of cubes, like an optical illusion, would invert or turn inside out, making it impossible to keep track of what was going on.

So Tim McVey had all the ingredients: he's a great player, he's strong, he's got the stamina, he's got the right game and he knows all the tricks to play it. Tricks like building up 127 extra men by level 99 and then leaving the game, letting the snake circle the board automatically. When you do this, you get 12,000 points and you lose a guy. You will lose as many as 20 men in just ten minutes, but you get to take a little break that your body needs to survive such stress. Even master arcade game marathoners have to go to the bathroom once in a while.

There's one more attribute a master marathoner needs-persistence. Nobody, not even Tim McVey, scores a billion points the first time out of the box. You make dumb mistakes. You have a bad day. Worst of all, the machine dies on you. Consider Tom Asaki's history of persistent nibbling. . .

First try: Scored 838 million and lost his last man after 40 hours.
Second try: Scored 707 million and lost by getting over the maximum 127 men.
Third try: Got to 793 million, and then the joystick broke. Attempts to fix it short-circuited the machine and Tom's score.
Fourth try: Scored 120 million and the machine broke again. Asaki: "I just had to sit there and watch my men die."

Asaki never reached a billion. When McVey took the baton, his luck wasn't much better. . .

First try: Scored 168 million, then somebody hit a circuit breaker at the arcade and the score was erased.
Second try: Scored 403 million and was too tired to go on after 22 hours.
Third try: Scored 113 million and the joystick died on him.
Fourth try: Scored 716 million and lost his last man after 31 hours.
Fifth try: Scored 410 million and the screen blanked out. It is suspected that someone pulled the plug intentionally.
Sixth try: Scored 208 million and a circuit breaker erased the score.
Seventh try: Bingo-a billion points! Persistence paid off.

Something must be said for the value of encouragement-for those unsung heroes who don't score a point but slap you awake every few hours and stick slices of pizza into your face so you don't fall over with hunger. In Tim's case it was Bill Mitchell and Chris "Tempest" Ayra, who stayed awake the entire 44 hours with him and kept him psyched up and nibbling away at the billion. So what happens once you've got the inspiration, skill, endurance like a tank and a little help from your friends? You go out and nail the billion, that's what. McVey rolled along for the first 800 million points like nothing was going to stop him - no mechanical failures, no human errors. But suddenly a friend burst into the arcade with a certified letter claiming that somebody else had just scored two billion at Nibbler! McVey was crushed. What's the use of going for a billion when somebody else has already hit two billion? Psychologically defeated, he lost some of his men, but he kept on playing. A closer reading of the letter revealed that it was a two-man team that had reached two billion-one played while the other slept! Encouraged, McVey pushed on toward 900 million.

People are going for high scores at Twin Galaxies all the time, but when McVey started closing in on a billion, the local news station got excited and rushed a camera crew over to record the event. McVey, already exhausted and losing his supply of men, had to fight off the glare on the screen caused by the blinding camera lights. By the time he reached 990 million, he only had six men left.

Human beings have a way of doing the impossible when the pressure is on. No doubt you've heard stories of women lifting up Volkswagens when their children were trapped under them. Tim McVey, despite his fatigue, the lights and the ten million more points he needed, summoned up all the reserves of energy he had left. In those final minutes he actually won four more men, giving him ten, and when he completed a board with 999,950,950 points, he stood back and watched the bonus points ring up... 1,000,042,270. Then he walked away from the machine.

For his efforts, Tim McVey won a free Nibbler from the game's manufacturer, Rock-Ola. He also received the key to the city of Ottumwa, Iowa, which proclaimed a "Tim McVey Day" the next week. Now Tim is waiting for someone to break his record, and he says, "No matter what they get, I'm going to break it back." Until that happens, he's gunning for another goal - the first person to play an arcade game for 100 hours straight on a single quarter. According to Tim McVey, "I want to die or fall off my chair."


For Brandon

An Interview with a Gameboy Artist

About the Artist: Sm0hm (AKA Simon Mattisson) is a gameboy artist from Gothenburg, Sweden. I recommend giving his music a listen to while ripping through the following interview. You can hear some of his stuff on the obligatory Myspace Page.

Alex: What gear do you use to compose your music? (software and hardware)

Sm0hm: I always use Game Boys, but tend to play around with most stuff I find, like sequencers, trackers and some music games like Electroplankton and Gupey, but when I do serious composing, that I release it's Game Boy. On Game Boy I use the tracker Little Sound Dj and the step sequencer I do most of my music with Little Sound Dj

A: cool so do you have various gameboys? do you do any of the fancy MIDI sync-ing etc. or just solo gameboy per track?

S: I have four Game Boys, but I usually just use one. I have synced two game boys on some tunes, but I think that the charm of this kind of composing is the limits. It's really fun and cool to see how much you can push it. I don’t have any midi syncing devices, and I don't need one at the moment, but we'll see what happens in the future

A: Just on a side note which gameboy sound do you prefer?

S: I prefer the Dot matrix aka Greyboy. The sound is undoubtedly the best

A: OK so have you done any of the Pro-Sound Mod stuff for colour gameboys?

S: No, I'm pretty lost when it comes to stuff like that. The only thing I've done with my Game Boys so far is exchanging some of the back shells.. But I'm going to try to do the mod sometime

A: So did you make music before the Game Boy and LSDJ?

S: Not really. If you call mixing in Ejay and Garageband making music, so sure. But I would say no. I've been interested in music long before, but never really making anything. I've always dreamed of a portable music maker like LSDj. actually, I've always dreamed for it to be on the game boy console dunno why really.

A: I assume from Garageband and Ejay etc you knew about some music theory (scales etc) that you now apply to the Game Boy? or not?

S: When I started with LSDj I had absolutely no knowledge what-so-ever haha! When I used garageband and stuff like that I just dragged loops you know

A: Yeah right, cool that’s awesome, so has using LSDJ broadened your musical knowledge? Not just in a music theory sense but knowing what sounds good through trial and error etc?

S: Yes, very. You learn alot by making music yourself. Of course, there's much I don't HAVE to know, so in musical theory I guess I'm pretty lost. But now I can more easily hear the errors and faults in music and point out what they should do. My pitch hearing is perfect according to a test. Dunno if that have something to do with LSDj, but I guess that would be the most logical.

A: That’s awesome, Do you play live?

S: Yes, I've done it once… Really twice, but you can't really count the last time, it was in my living room playing for some of my close friends haha! The neighbours called us the next day and asked if it was us that played the loud music. The first and only time I (really) have played live was at a New Year’s Eve party. It was a very fun experience.

A: So that was just Game Boy, were you playing back songs or using LSDJ's live function?

S: just playing songs and acting like I’m really doing something! :D, that's pretty much the live standard, but I'm planning to do more advanced live stuff in the future

A: Yeah that’s what I gathered but I mean it’s a gameboy on stage for most people that’s cool enough.

S: yeah, true =), no one will guess that you can squeeze out amazing melodies and rhythms from an old video game

A: How big is the chiptune scene in Sweden?

S: people say that the chip scene is the biggest in Sweden, and I think that can have something to do with us all being addicted to video games. For instance, if you play a game like counterstrike or WoW, and say "Is there any Swedes here" you get spams of "yes". Though it's still not many that have heard of the term chip music, but many have encountered it.

A: Do you feel there is a kind of generation gap between the demo, mod scene programmers and people like you making music on Game Boy but without technical programming knowledge?

S: in a way, yes... I know many modders and demo sceners that laugh at my ignorance, but we're still the same in heart, really. This kind of music is there because the artist thinks it fun, there's no money involved, just strict fun and games. I think that's the line you can draw trough the demo, mod sceners and chiptunists like me, we're all doing it for fun.

A: You mentioned earlier that it’s great playing with the limitations but is that what makes it fun or is it the idea of making game music? I think it’s the sound, maybe? I don't really know but it is fun.

S: If I’m going to talk about everything that's fun with chip music I’m going to be stuck here all day! But, I just mentioned the limitations, because that it one of the most noticeable features when you compose for this format, except the sound of course. Yes, the sound is great fun too, to see how much you can do with it.

A: What chip artists do you listen to?

S: Woa, alot.. But the ones I have listened to most is Bit Shifter, Nullsleep, Quarta330, Xinon, USK, Role Model, Goto80, Trash80 and many, many more. but Bit shifter, Quarta and Role model are closest to my heart =)

A: What non-chip music do you listen too?

S: honestly, not much, but Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, some random house music and some Swedish reggae and ragga / hip hop can't hurt alot daft punk atm.

A: Do you play games much?

S: no, not much at all, but I used to be kinda addicted to video games as a child. I had a blue game boy pocket, my first console, that I played a lot on. I've always loved the sounds, I used to carry it around as a freestyler when I was a kid haha much N64 too much actually I’ve bought Gunpey for DS recently, it's a puzzle music game, has some chiptune elements in the sequencer, which was the main reason I bought it.. Though the game was addictive, and the sequencer was crap, so I’m now playing Gunpey like crazy.

A: Do you know about the Malcom McClaren 8bit article?

S: yes, I’ve read it, very interesting, he's playing at a festival called peace and love here in Sweden, I might go.

A: Oh really? What do you think about the whole opinion that chiptunes are a reaction against modern pop music?

S: actually, it depends.. I hate mainstream stuff and most pop music, so for me it's true in a way, but for others it may be different. I don't think it's a 'reaction' against pop music tho, I don't chip music exist for the single purpose of telling the world that we do not like pop music but I can see what he means by that, the comparison to punk. chip music often is a DIY, fuck you money craving label asshole, underground music style.

A: Do you compose with the Game Boy when you’re out and about? Do you think your surroundings affect the way you write songs?

S: I usually sit at home, but composing outside is very nice too. It does affect the way you write songs, I know many that must have good surroundings to write good music. I for one can't concentrate when there's other people around me, the only song I’ve composed when there's people around me is meet me in Cairo haha =). I always take my game boy with me though! You never know when you might want to compose some 8bit love 4bit actually...

This interview was performed by Alex Yabsley, and it originally appeared on the website gamemusic4all.com.



According to Wikipedia chiptunes are music written in sound formats where all the sounds are synthesized in realtime by a computer or video game console sound chip, instead of using sample-based synthesis. Everyone needs to go check out the Wikipedia entry as well as checking out the following Youtube videos:

Blipfest 2007Happened this past December at Eyebeam in Chelsea (NYC). I had the privilege of attending.

The artist who was talking about his influences coming from the punk movement goes by the stage name Nullsleep. You can check his stuff out HERE.

The Sidtunes Jukebox is an online music player that plays Comodore 64 tracks. Many chiptune artists download these onto floppy disks and compile set lists to be mixed in a similar manner to the way a DJ mixes and scratches records.

COLOR_CAVES is a chiptune project that has been written and programmed for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The audio was done by Alex Mauer along with a Norwegian composer named Phlogiston. The programming was handled by No Carrier. According to Mauer this is the second ever album released solely on a Nintendo Cartridge. The first was also done by him. Here’s a demo of the NES Cart:

8.bit.weapon is a kid that makes chiptunes. Here is an interesting (kinda at least) video from G4TV on exactly what he does:

Goto80 is another artist worth checking out for sure. This Youtube video is in Spanish but you can listen to the chiptunes regardless…

The next post will be concerning making music on the gameboy platform. The #1 software choiceamongst gameboy Djs is LSDJ, “AKA: Little Sound DJ”. More chiptune stuff can be found at VORC.ORG. Obviously this is just a quick overview of the chiptune scene. If any of you have questions, comments, etc. please post them in the comments section here.

Get your own copy of the LSDJ .ROM Free, Here.

You can run it on a gameboy emulator, such as KiGB, which you can get Here

You can learn how to fool around with the LSDJ .ROM: Here


Kirsten was asking about Ninja Gaiden last week, you should definitely check this out.

SUPERMARIO SLEEPING(with butterflies), is an Art Machinima movie by Miltos Manetas. It is made with SuperMario for Nintendo 64 and it was first shown at the exhibition'Fatto in Italia',(Made in Italy), at the ICA, in London, 1997.

It has been show all over the World in many gallery and Museum exhibitions.

This work is a signed edition of 3, courtesy Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York.


ET Phone Home...

E.T. for Atari is widely regarded as the worst video game of all time. As you guys have seen already, in multiple video game documentaries. Here are a some ads from that dreadful 1983 Holiday season. Rather than recapping everything concerning the fiasco here, I am going to turn you guys towards a website that has done it for me. Check the sidebar of the blog for a link to the “The Atari Landfill Revealed.” It’s an easy read… we’ll talk about it in class… maybe...

Don't Drop the Soap...

TOPEKA, Kan. - The son of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is peddling a board game titled "Don't Drop the Soap," a prison-themed game he created as part of a class project at the Rhode Island School of Design.

John Sebelius, 23, has the backing of his mother and father, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Sebelius. The governor's spokeswoman, Nicole Corcoran, said both parents "are very proud of their son John's creativity and talent."

John Sebelius is selling the game on his Internet site for $34.99, plus packaging, shipping and handling. The contact information on the Web site lists the address of the governor's mansion. Corcoran said the address will change when John Sebelius moves.

The game also goes on sale starting Jan. 31 at a shop called Hobbs in the college town of Lawrence.

"Fight your way through 6 different exciting locations in hopes of being granted parole," the site says. "Escape prison riots in The Yard, slip glass into a mob boss' lasagna in the Cafeteria, steal painkillers from the nurse's desk in the Infirmary."

The game includes five tokens representing a bag of cocaine, a handgun and three characters: wheelchair-using 'Wheelz," muscle-flexing "Anferny" and business suit-clad "Sal 'the Butcher.'"

Corcoran said John Sebelius sought legal advice to be sure he followed proper requirements, and he even took out a loan to pay for the production of his work.

"This game is intended for mature audiences — not children — and is simply intended for entertainment," Corcoran said.


Donkey Kong Country

Ae you ready?:

Donkey Kong Country Promo Video, sent to Nintendo Power Subscribers in 1994:


Malcom McLaren

8-Bit Punk
Malcolm McLaren, the subculture hacker who created the Sex Pistols, discovers the new underground sound. It's called chip music. Can you play lead Game Boy?

We live in a karaoke culture. The Japanese word means "empty orchestra" - a lifeless musical form unencumbered by creativity and free of responsibility. Simple, clean fun for the millennial nuclear family. You can't fail in a karaoke world. It's life by proxy, liberated by hindsight.

Authenticity, on the other hand, believes in the messy process of creativity. It's unpopular and out of fashion. It worships failure, regarding it as a romantic and noble pursuit - better to be a flamboyant failure than any kind of benign success.
Karaoke and authenticity can sit well together, but it takes artistry to make that happen. When it does, the results can be explosive. Like when punk rock reclaimed rock and roll, blowing the doors off the recording industry in the process. Or when hip hop transformed turntables and records into the instruments of a revolution. Now it's happening again. In dance clubs across Europe and America, young people are seizing the automated stuff of their world - handheld game machines, obsolete computers, anything with a sound chip - and forging a new kind of folk music for the digital age.

Until recently, I was feeling stifled by the tyranny of the new. New corporate lifestyles for doing everything well. Too well. iPod this. PowerBook that. Listening to albums, like Madonna's latest, that were made using Pro Tools - software that reduces virtually every mixdown effect to a mouse click - left me with a depressing sense of sameness, like everything on TV. I had decided to make an album about the "look" of music: the visual gestalt of youth culture. For me, music has always been a bridge between art and fashion, the two realms I care about most. It's one of the most natural expressions of the youthful need for confrontation and rebellion. Now it was lost in the hearts and minds of a karaoke world. I couldn't find my place in it.
Then I discovered chip music.

It all began on a freezing winter evening in snow-capped Zurich, Switzerland. Some friends of mine had a vague relationship with a small-label dude who caught my attention at a party rattling on about lo-fi. He soon had me playing phone tag with a clique of "reversible engineers" working illegally in Stockholm. I didn't know what that meant, but I was eager to find out.
The quest led me to the outskirts of Paris: Ivry sur Seine, to be exact, dead south of Chinatown. In that desolate industrial district, I had a 10 pm appointment with two guys named Thierry and Jacques.

The address turned out to be a forbidding, semi-abandoned factory. I couldn't open the gate, so I waited nervously in the darkness. After a while, a suspicious, balding youth came out of the building - Jacques. He seemed to have trouble finding the keys to undo the heavy chains that secured the premises. Finally, the doors swung open. After a terse greeting, he led me up a concrete stairway and through dark, labyrinthine corridors of peeling plaster.

"What's that smell?" I asked, my nostrils assaulted by what seemed like a hot pot of hairy horse and curry powder. "It's the Cameroon embassy," he answered, smirking. Jacques, a shy young man whose teeth were nearly black because of his fear of dentists, explained that wood carvers, graphic artists, photographers, and hip hop kids from North Africa worked here. Only half the factory had electricity or heat.
Two flights up, Thierry welcomed us into a dim, tiny room at the far end of the building. To my surprise, I found myself in an Ali Baba's cave of outdated studio equipment. The chamber was stuffed floor to ceiling with hardware from the dawn of the 1980s: dinosaurian Amigas and Ataris once prized for their sound chips and arcane applications, giant echo plates, and knob-studded analog synthesizers. In the center was a pair of dusty turntables, one with a 45-rpm single on its platter. Thierry put the needle to the groove. I reeled as the record player emitted a din like screaming dog whistles. It sounded like a video arcade gone mad.

The low light revealed the Frenchman's T-shirt. Emblazoned across his chest were the words FUCK PRO TOOLS. The phrase described perfectly what I'd been feeling for months. Like any fashion victim who comes across a new and stylish idea, I was smitten. Fashion is most easily used as a disguise - it allows you to be something you're not. It's much more difficult to use it to express who you are. I understood immediately that this was no facile fashion statement.

"Who made this record?" I asked. In stark contrast to the silent Jacques, Thierry - once he started talking - could hardly stop. "Mark DeNardo from Chicago," he said. This twentysomething Puerto Rican artist, he told me, is the Velvet Underground of the 21st century, the next step in the evolution of rock and roll. "This is chip music," Thierry continued, "made on an old Game Boy. I don't like hi-fi. I can't afford hi-fi. To make this music costs only 15 euros. You can pick up an old Game Boy from the marche aux puces," the Paris flea market. He presented an outdated Game Boy and, maneuvering his thumbs on the keys, showed me how to create musical sequences.

Thierry spun another record. "This is Puss," he explained. "He's from Stockholm. He sings with a girl: 'I'm the master, you are the slave.' They're the new ABBA!" The album cover featured a simple photo of a Game Boy, nothing more. I loved it.
The next record was an EP - an extended-play 7-inch - by a Stockholm artist called Role Model. The last time I had come across this format was in the 1960s, when I bought my first Rolling Stones record. Role Model sounded like a videogame fashion show, as though Twiggy were somehow stuck inside Space Invaders. It was intelligent dance music made using analog approaches, distinctly human and more individual than simply switching on a drum machine. The more I listened, the more contagious it became. The names of emerging artists rolled off Thierry's tongue: Adlib Sinner Forks, Bit Shifter, Nullsleep, Glomag, The Hardliner, Lo-Bat, 8-bit Construction Set - an entire lost tribe of Game Boy musicians.

The room became hazy with the exhaust of these chain-smoking French guys. I felt like I was at the end of the world, but I also thought I could be happy here.
Chip music is made using processors from the antediluvian 8-bit past. (Pro Tools, by contrast, starts at 24 bits.) The genre's seminal moment occurred three years ago when Role Model (real name: Johan Kotlinski) created a custom Game Boy cartridge called Little Sound DJ - LSDJ for short - that takes over the palmtop's internal synthesizer and turns the device into a musical workstation capable of playing sequences and arpeggios, but not chords.

Role Model, who's studying for an engineering degree at Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology, manufactured LSDJ in Japan and offered it on the Web for about $70 until he sold all the cartridges he had made. The software is a simulacrum of DJ culture, combining the Game Boy's native bloops and bleeps with samples of old drum machines like the popular Roland TR-808. LSDJ isn't the only such cartridge: Nanoloop, made by German art student Oliver Wittchow, does similar things, but without the samples. It's easier to generate sounds right away with Nanoloop, but LSDJ is more musical and therefore more popular.
LSDJ may be technically illegal, but who cares? It's the only way Role Model and his cronies can afford to make their music. It's Le Resistance. Chip musicians plunder corporate technology and find unlikely uses for it. They make old sounds new again - without frills, a recording studio, or a major record label. It would be facile to describe the result as amateurish; it's underproduced because it feels better that way. The nature of the sound, and the equipment used to create it, is cheap. This is not music as a commodity but music as an idea. It's the Nintendo generation sampling its youth.

The essence of chip music is in reverse engineering an electronic interface - whether it's a Game Boy or a computer's sound chip - and subverting its original design. Chip music can be made using run-of-the-mill equipment, like a Casio keyboard, but first the insides must be scrambled. The lo-fi sound of the White Stripes and their ilk has a certain aesthetic kinship with chip music, but it's less tech-centric and not nearly as subversive. Kraftwerk might be the grandfathers of chip music - like today's reversible engineers, they invented many of their instruments. As for programs like Pro Tools, chip musicians don't think they're really creative. The sound isn't generated by circuitry, and you can't alter it by twisting a knob.
As DeNardo puts it, "The digital medium may have more accuracy, but it doesn't have as good a vibe. Playing with an analog machine that has an inaccurate bpm" - beats per minute, the dance-floor gauge of tempo - "can be a bitch. But when you can hear the sequence and feel it, it's like listening to a live band rather than someone singing along with a digital karaoke machine."

The urge to breathe some genuine fire into moribund electronica has spurred the chip music underground to embrace vinyl. When I first met Thierry and Jacques, they were waiting for a shipment of 3,000 EPs from a pressing plant in the Czech Republic. Why do chip musicians insist on using such a perversely obscure medium? In a world where information is free and experience is virtual, delicate vinyl discs, black and fetishistic, are precious. They're treasured, collectible, real. And, unlike CDs, they can't be reproduced easily. Chip musicians scorn CDs as cheap, disposable, and, at best, no more ecofriendly than vinyl.
Chip musicians can be found all over the world, but they're mostly in places where Game Boys are popular - the US, Sweden, Japan, Switzerland. Some are into the technical side of it, like Nullsleep, who graduated from Columbia with a degree in computer science. Others are just into the music. They like being pop-culture pirates, and they have little use for the mass market. Their output is deliberately inaccessible to radio and TV, indeed to anyone in the music industry who still believes in hi-fi. At this stage, they don't necessarily aspire to have an audience beyond that of their own choosing, which means friends. This will probably change. Most early punk gigs - the ones that are continually mythologized - had audiences of about 20 people, though today it seems like everyone was there.

I began working in Ivry Sur Seine, programming Game Boy sequences, then overdubbing analog synths, guitars, and vocals. I sent an MP3 to DeNardo, who, I learned, is a classically trained violinist and keenly aware of Steve Reich's orchestral minimalism and John Cage's I Ching-driven randomness. He'd picked up LSDJ from Bjork's Web site thinking it would make his music different. He created a Game Boy sequence to accompany one of my favorite old blues tunes, "Mighty Long Time" by Sonny Boy Williamson. Then he rewrote the lyrics and roughed out the chords on an acoustic guitar. We called the new track "Fashion Horse."

I remained in the factory for the next few months, cutting and pasting the ruins of Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters into a videogame wall of sound. I rocked with Adlib. DeNardo flew in from Chicago. We translated the modernist classical music of Francis Poulenc into Game Boy sequences and arpeggios. I went to China and developed a post-karaoke sound with Wild Strawberries, an all-girl group from Beijing. I found the look of music. This was fashion at its most cutting edge. So chic!
Chip music is still underground, but the scene is becoming less insular. Collaborations are beginning. It's easy to swap MP3s over the Net or daisy-chain a track, sending it to other chip musicians who embellish it in turn. F2F gatherings are starting to rumble in Paris and Chicago. The fashion for record players is growing - just look at the display window of Colette on the rue Saint-Honore, or in the pages of Jalouse and Vogue. Soon tribes devoted to their favorite retro noisemakers will emerge in bars and clubs everywhere, sliding effortlessly through holes in the karaoke culture, personalizing electronic music and taking it to the next level, whatever that might be. Perhaps it will be games for writing music, or mobile phones with MP3 capabilities that let you listen and modify at will.

Chip music is mutating into a growing taxonomy of styles - post-karaoke, rock-and-roll Game Boy, bastard blues - that represent the most anarchic display of the antihero in pop culture. The sound is raw, noisy, and at times poorly played and sung. Still, repurposing defunct devices to end-run a music industry in total decline constitutes a revolution. Chip music is the final repository of the marvelous, its makers the last possessors of the wand of Cinderella's fairy godmother.

Malcolm McLaren is a recording artist, producer, and clothing designer based in Paris. His foray into chip music, Fashionbeast, was released in the spring of 2004.

This article was originally published in Wired Magazine in November of 2003.


2 Alex Galloway Links:




Home Console Evolution

More retro. Know your history...
You can go HERE for a quick overview of how home consoles progressed. It’s kind of dated, but definitely gets across the point quicker than I could copying/pasting/lecturing, etc.

Check it:


I know you need some tips on how to beat the Smurfs Game…

Here’s some gameplay footage from a Colecovision title, Montezuma’s Revenge:

Only Amiga…

Atari ad from 1978, that’s famous baseball player Pete Rose in the opening :

Another Atari ad:

Incredible ad for the Atari Game Pole Position:




John linked to this in the comments section, so here it is:

Buckethead, full Jordan solo (from 1:30 out)


Guitar Hero...

This video get insane at around the 3 minutes and 20 seconds mark:

On Monday, I expect one of you to be able to do this:

Or at least this:

Which came from this:


Ken Levine, president and creative director of 2K Boston

Friday, September 14, 2007; 2:52 PM

The following is a transcript from a portion of the interview @Play Columnist Mike Musgrove of the Washington Post had with BioShock's lead designer Ken Levine. Levine is president and creative director of 2K Boston, the game studio that made the video game BioShock.

Mike Musgrove: While playing BioShock, I sometimes paid attention to the story, and sometimes ignored it. Does it bother you that some people may blast through the game and ignore the storyline -- or is that a valid way to play the game?

Ken Levine: I think that's a completely valid way to play the game. I think most great works of popular fiction have to work on a couple of levels. You look at Lord of the Rings or The Matrix, you have to have your giant monsters and you have to have your great explosions and people can go to the movies and enjoy those movies for those elements.

But what I think makes those things enter the cultural zeitgeist is, they work on another level -- whether it's The Matrix with these existential themes or Lord of the Rings as an extensive meditation on the meaning of power and how it affects people.

That's what separates those films from other works in the genre, they have this underlying element and I think you find that in all really popular genre stuff, that there's usually something else going on there, and, really, that's what draws me.

However, I'm perfectly comfortable with the guy who plays through the game -- in fact I really enjoy watching people play through the game -- who are really just there to shoot stuff in a cool environment.

But what I find quite often what happens is that one of the reasons we tried to tell the story visually so much - that's why the world of Rapture is so visually revelatory of a story... we wanted to draw people in who never thought they'd be interested in the game as a meditation on governmental regulation. It's hardly something you can pitch as a video game: "Come play our game about a pseudo-objectivist style Utopia!" That's not exactly going to get butts in the seats...

I think one of the reasons the game is having the impact it's having is because it has themes beyond the monster stuff. But, you gotta deliver on the monster stuff.

Mike Musgrove: When you're making a game, do you come up with game design or a storyline first?

Ken Levine: The short answer is: Game design first... You have to get the gameplay stuff right and the story has to complement the gameplay.

I think that quite often you have a lot of frustrated screenwriters or novelists making videogames and so they're quite insistent on forcing the audience to soak in every aspect of their narrative from A to Z and learn every proper noun and every character's name and every relationship.

With BioShock that wasn't our goal, our goal was to put the stuff there for the people who want it, and there's an incredible amount of depth, but we really wanted people to be able to play it and... if they didn't want to deal with this deeper story, they didn't have to. But they can't help absorbing some of this stuff through the visuals of the world.

Mike Musgrove: Can you cite any influences for BioShock from other games, or movies or books? I feel like the Shining was in there?

Ken Levine: I saw the Shining when I was 9 years old. It pretty much set my notion of how to do horror properly, that it has to be connected to character, that horror is about loss at the end of the day. A fear of losing things that are important to you is what drives horror-- not a monster in the closet, but losing the things that you love. To me, that's what Rapture and the world of BioShock is. That's why Rapture had to be a beautiful place at once, that it had to be this fallen glory and all these lives had to be incredible and had to hold so much promise. The fact that they fell apart had to be a tragedy or there's just no horror there.

I think that great masters of horror like [Stephen] King understand that you have to love the characters in order to fear for them to lose what they have...

Fight Club was an inspiration. There's a scene in Fight Club, there are several scenes in Fight Club where, the second time you watch [there are] totally different meanings than the first time. I love movies like that, because the narrative doesn't just mess with the characters' minds, it messes with the viewer's mind and that's something I wanted to accomplish in BioShock.

Mike Musgrove: Do you believe video games are art? Do you regard BioShock as a piece of art?

Ken Levine: Honestly, to me that's a bit of a remote conversation. To me, all I care about is, does it work, does it impact an audience? Is baseball art? Baseball certainly drives people emotionally and gets people engaged, people follow it. But is it art?, I don't know.

Is BioShock art? I don't know and I guess I sort of don't care. That argument tends to be more about turf wars. And this happens with every new media. Movies, when they came around, there was an argument: Are they art? Comic books, are they art? Video games, are they art? It's always the same path. There's a push back from the old guard who have turf to protect, because, you know once you're art, you can be serious. But I don't really care about being serious. I don't care how people regard me, if I'm an artist or not, all I care about is are they being moved by what we're making.

Mike Musgrove: What are the advantages, or limitations, of video games as a storytelling medium?

Ken Levine: One thing I think we learned making BioShock is that you have a storytelling device that doesn't exist in any other [medium] and that's your environment. So much of the story of BioShock is told by what we call mise-en-scene. You just asked me if video games are art, I can tell you that video game designers are as pretentious as any artists, [to use] terms like mise-en-scene!

It means "to set a scene" and so much of the world of BioShock you can tell what happened here by looking around you and exploring the world and that sense of discovery in film you know the camera has to drive the mise-en-scene and the director has to drive it.

There's something awesome about the discovery process that the player goes through when they play the game and they can sort of discover little stories -- sometimes they're out of the way and sometimes you get a story that a lot of people may not have even seen or sometimes you're able to put together some narrative clues just by looking around the world and exploring the world. I love that. There's no other media can do that...

That opportunity doesn't exist in other media and it's a really exciting place. I think if we've done anything in BioShock, we've sort of pushed that notion down the road a little bit, which is, you can tell a story without words that is unique to each viewer.


Rosemarie Fiore


The following is from an interview with artist Rosemarie Fiore. I saw her work when she did a large scale piece in Kansas City (Where I went to undergrad) involving a tilt-a-whirl. But it is her works about gaming that are of interest to us in the context of this course... Involving her interests in games she comments:

"I am a gamer. It’s in my blood. As a child, I used to follow my brother to the arcades and play all the games. My brother was truly amazing, he could play Galaga for an hour straight on one quarter and still can. I love the rhythm of playing games, the adrenaline rush, the excitement and the flashing lights and sounds of the arcade. I get lost. It’s akin to creating art. It’s a beautiful experience."

"I love the old games because of their simplicity and music. There is an art to making a simple game. I think my favorite game is Asteriods because when I play it, I feel like I am really floating in space."

In regards to these photographic prints she comments:

These photographs are long exposures taken while playing video war games of the 80's created by Atari, Centuri and Taito. The photographs were shot from video game screens while I played the games. By recording each second of an entire game on one frame of film, I captured complex patterns not normally seen by the eye.

Donkey Kong Snow Day...

No school today... read the blog for tomorrow so no one falls behind (We already lost one class for MLK Day and can't fall any further behind...)


April 2004 USC Press Release

Video Games Become Fine Art

A front page article in the March 26 Los Angeles Times asks the question as to whether the new digital world of video games should be receiving the same critical attention as fine art. While some question whether there is a deeper meaning to games, others disagree. Chris Swain, who teaches game design in the Interactive Media division here says, “There were lots of filmmakers in the early years who also felt what they were doing wasn’t art, that it was just entertainment. “ Ultimately, film became legitimized as an artistic medium, and Swain says the same will happen with games. To bolster that argument, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is presenting its first ever video games exhibit in May entitled “Into The Pixel.” The article also notes that USC offers the country’s only academic program focused on the artistic elements of games and is now supported by the recent Electronic Arts grant. Swain says that “games are the literature of the 21st century.” Another Interactive Media instructor, Tracy Fullerton says that if games are art, they deserve the same intellectual scrutiny as music, theater or dance. “At some point, I hope we will cease to be fascinated by the technology of games, and the questions will shift from how something is happening on a screen to why.”

While finishing up their grad work at USC’s Interactive Media division, a few students came up with the concept for the game Flow, which is linked on the sidebar of the blog. I recommend each of you plays Flow for a few minutes, as we will be discussing it for a while during our next class session. See you Monday.



"It's cool to be able to create the kinds of games we play..."

THIS, is an article on pitching video games from the blog ars tecnica.

When (if ever) you get tired of reading stuff for this class remember you could be elsewhere... I think this place:

Has some openings... or this one...

As long as you don't live in Texas or massachusetts...


Paul B. Davis (Beige)

A founding member of the Beige collective, Paul is a nerd and a gentleman trapped inside the body of a 29-year-old from St. Louis who's lived in London for three years. Like most creative types, he has a range of projects on the go, including some Vice-related music bits. He also teaches Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. Did you know he once released a record called "Enter The Mystical Faggot"?

Vice: When you get up in the morning, how do you decide whether to do art or music?
Paul: Usually I get worried about which one I'm sucking at. I worry that I do too many things not that well, rather than doing one thing really well, which is easier for a career. So I guess it depends if I need to finish a music project or if I have an idea for an art piece, then I'll do that. It's best when the two come together.

Like with your acclaimed album, The 8-Bit Construction Set?
Exactly. With The 8-Bit Construction Set I was able to merge conceptual stuff with a usable tool because there were weird art bits on the record. So I'd get emails back from DJs saying it's great – Mixmaster Mike was playing it – and then I'd get an email from a museum saying they wanted to exhibit it. In terms of the art/music thing, that did both.

Sounds smart. Where did you go study?
I went to Oberlin in Ohio. Basically all the people that I still collaborate with now went there. Two of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were in my class, Brian and Karen. I saw Brian last time I was in Chicago and he showed me his tour bus and he was excited because the previous group that had used that bus was Journey.

Video art and computer art – what's the difference?
The market for video art is 20 years ahead in terms of artist recognition and sales. When we were exhibiting our first shows, if we said it was new media art or computer art, no one cared. But if we called it video art, using the computer game as a readymade, then they'd love it.

What's with the B?
The B stands for Benjamin. There are so many Paul Davises and the B is for Google searches.

video interview:

text based interview via VICE


Cory Arcangel (Pt.2)

While searching the Youtube I just found the complete Mario Movie by Cory Arcangel in collaboration with Paper Rad...

On the other hand, this is also the Mario Movie...

Linkage: Look over on the right... check out Cory's blog.

...More to follow...


Cory Arcangel (Pt. 1)

I talked about Cory Arcangel during class... here is some of his work. You guys have 2 essays about him for the next class session. He is supposed to be speaking at Brown University in the Spring. I'll let you know more when I know more... he's young (under 30) and was in the Whitney Biennial in 2004 (when he was even younger...)...


Naptime (_2002), Hacked Super Mario2 NES cartridge. Programmed music by Paul B. Davis.

I Shot Andy Warhol (_2002), Hacked Hogan's Alley NES Cartridge.

Objective: Hit Andy Warhol whenever he pops up, while avoiding hitting the Pope, Flavor Flav, and Colonel Sanders. The last couple seconds of this video clip are from the portion of the game where your goal is to knock the falling Campell's soup cans across the screen.

Mario Movie (w/Paper Rad)

Linkage: Cory's 2006 show at Team Gallery's Soho Space

Retro Gaming Makes a Comeback... In the Low Budget Documentary Scene At Least...

These are 3 newer documentaries about the retro gaming scene. I only had the opportunity to see the King of Kong, which, came out this Summer. Depending on how we’re doing on time later on in the course, we will be checking it out after its release on the 29th of this month.

King of Kong:

8 bit documentary:

Chasing Ghosts:


More awesome NES ads...



As you guys heard in the video, home Atari Pac-Man games were pretty bad:

The Pac-Man Cartoon:



Skits Inspired By: