The art of gaming
Gamers today pretty much take it for granted that any new release they get their hands on will be a veritable orgy of graphics and sounds. When you look at promotional materials for a game like Call of Duty: Black Ops or Rock Band 3, you know that what you see in a commercial, a trailer, or a poster will pretty be much be what you get when you play the game.
This was not always so. See, there was a time when the surest way to draw the attention of a gamer was not by showing real game play (although that was part of any ad campaign), but through attractive packaging. And up until, say the mid-’80s, there was usually a fairly substantial disconnect between what you saw on the box and what you saw on the TV or PC. People more cynical than I have called this bait and switch of a kind, but I take a more realistic outlook. The artwork on a piece of packaging was a company’s best shot to get you interested in their product, so in many cases they pulled out all the stops. Consider a game like Combat for the Atari 2600 – would you be more likely to buy it with this image:
Yeah, I thought so. So join me now as I take a look at some of the coolest examples of early video game art!
Up first is a set from the most famous of classic video game consoles, the Atari 2600. We’ve got the aforementioned Combat, Berzerk, Outlaw, Asteroids, Warlords, Yars’ Revenge, Air-Sea Battle, and Haunted House. All images courtesy the fantastic AtariAge site.
Our next batch is from Mattel’s Intellivision console, which saw widespread launch in 1980. Enjoy Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Demon Attack, Tron: Deadly Discs, Atlantis, Sub Hunt, and Space Armada.
If you’re around my age, chances are the first exposure you had to anything resembling a home computer was the legendary Commodore 64. The graphics for a lot of their games were a step up, and perhaps as a result a little less effort was put into their presentation. Still, there’s plenty to savor. Here’s the cover art for 1942, Cosmic Causeway: Trailblazer II, Lode Runner, Rattler, Impossible Mission, Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress, The Movie Monster Game, and Rocket Ranger (images from Lemon64).
- Boris Loukanov: The History of Video Games – Song & Video (borisloukanov.tumblr.com)
People found this post by searching for:
- "atari combat", "combat atari", "atari 2600 combat"
The Atari artwork was great. While the C64 and PC game markets had decent covers in the late 80s early 90s, the painted covers were truly iconic.
Comments are closed.