Hearts for Hardware: On the Go

"Mobile Gaming Lv.1" 9x12" oil and acrylic on panel sold

"Mobile Gaming Lv.1"
9x12" oil and acrylic on panel

For many, it is probably hard to imagine not being able to play video games on the go, but for some of us older gamers, there were many years of waiting for this innovation.

Sure, there were attempts before, including early LCD-based machines where you could swap out games, like the Microvision. But between too-primitive technology (Game & Watch) and onerous game changing (Microvision), it took awhile longer before we could fulfill our childhood dreams of gaming anytime, anywhere.

And so I included "Lv.1" in the title of this painting, because really it was here that what we now call mobile gaming got going. 

The original Game Boy was of course behind the times at release too, evidenced by the fact that the backlit, color, 16-bit Atari Lynx released only a few months later.  But power consumption (and Tetris) probably won that battle, especially as Nintendo was coming at the end of a very successful home console start, whereas Atari was already an also-ran by 1989, after nearly a decade of domination.

"Mobile Gaming is Evolving!" 9x12" oil and acrylic on panel sold

"Mobile Gaming is Evolving!"
9x12" oil and acrylic on panel

Before too long, the hardware began to evolve, first in greater portability then by finally adding color. During this time, handheld gaming became a major business, and the meteoric rise of the Pokémon franchise provided the first major franchise launched on a handheld device.

With my paintings of these, I sought to call back to Tetris, which powered the initial rise of the hardware. I don't like showing game graphics on handheld screens in this series, and prefer not showing game labels, but the Tetris shapes provided a great compositional element.

By the end of the Game Boy Color era, Pokémon had become a major force, and the cartridges themselves began to change, introducing colors and then clear varieties, which I included here to show the evolution of the entire product line.

Though I didn't paint the interim Pocket hardware at this time, you can easily see where it might fit in this series given the way the images have incorporated on these evolutions.

The titles of these two paintings also call back to Pokémon, evoking the constant finding of primitive creatures and over time watching them develop into more powerful forms. I can't always find these kinds of hardware-to-experience hooks, but when I can they are some of my favorite aspects of this series: using the paintings to evoke these other aspects of gaming that are tied to the hardware.

See more from this series at Hearts for Hardware.