Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Art of Atari

As you all pretty much know, when I was just a wee tot living in suburban Wisconsin, milking cows and drinking beer, I spent a lot of cold winters sitting in front of our (alarmingly) warm TV set playing classic Atari games like Missile Command, Adventure and Asteroids. Games that, when played on a home console in 1981, looked pretty much like ass. The graphics, as some of you will recall, were embarrassingly simple -- one game's soccer ball was another game's ICBM missile. The sound of an explosion in a space shooter might double as the sound of a crowd cheering on a football team. What I'm getting at here folks is that the narrative power of these 2-kilobyte game programs was extremely, extremely limited, so we had to actually use our own imaginations while playing our video games back then. Which, ironically, was something that I think was lost on many parents of the time, as they often lashed out against this wicked new video-technology that would most assuredly eat their children's souls and melt their brains.
But how do you market and sell a game that contains only a dot, a line and a wall of bricks to millions of sweaty, greasy teenage kids who can't wait to hop into their station wagons and cruise on over to Kay Bee Toys to pick up the latest radical game cartridge?

Like this:
Not real, but an incredible simulation.

Nope, not what you're thinking about at all when you're eight years old and spinning a paddle in your hand -- sorry, that sounded weird. But believe it or not, this approach ended up working well for Atari and having been initially run by a bunch of stoners and hippies anyway, they were very up on the idea of dedicating a fair amount of cash and resources to art and design right from the start.

So wouldn't you know it, some forty-odd years later and long after the original company imploded, someone has finally put together a book chronicling this hitherto overlooked aspect of our favorite video game behemoth, and it's available today in hardback.

Penned by Chicago-based designer, Tim Lapetino, The Art of Atari gives the reader a comprehensive overview of the various design initiatives employed by Atari over the course of its entire history and reveals the stories behind them as well.

From the official site:

"THE ART OF ATARI is the first official collection of such artwork. Sourced from private collections worldwide, this book spans over 40 years of the company’s unique illustrations used in packaging, advertisements, catalogs, and more.

Includes a comprehensive retrospective collecting game production and concept artwork, photos, marketing art, with insight from key people involved in Atari’s rich history, and behind-the-scenes details on how dozens of games featured within were conceived, illustrated, approved (or rejected), and brought to life!"

Pick up your copy for only $39.99 from their site by clicking the link below!