Brian Eno, Of All People, Explains The True Beauty Of Retro Games


The appeal of 8-bit music, retro graphics and other art forms defined by their limits, beautifully explained by prolific musical artist and producer Brian Eno in his 1996 diary “A Year With Swollen Appendices“.

Originally posted on volume xii, via Business Insider


  • I like it. Eno seems a bit pretentious at times but I think he’s hit the nail on the head.

  • This quote seems purely focused on film and/or music and not games. Also, sounds like he’s over complicating something that isn’t complicated. I feel nothing of what describes when I decide to replay pokemon red or super metroid prime. Just that the game was fun and like so many other games I want to play them again; much like rereading books. Sounds like an “artsy fartsy” answer to question no one asked i.e. “explain the true beauty of retro games?”

    • I’m going to have to disagree with you. I think it’s an interesting perspective.

      I mean, from the artist point of view, this is a fantastic answer that really does, as Zamboyshi said, “hit the nail on the head.” From the gamer point of view, it’s pretty whatever, but the difference between you and Eno is he’s making the games, and you’re just playing them.

      • Welllllllll you would be completely wrong, I am studying this stuff so no, I don’t just ‘play them’, I make them as living also. YOU just play them.

        • Oh, well in that case, start taking his advice with some serious consideration, or contribute to the plethora of mediocrity pouring out of this industry.

          And I don’t just play them, I study them.

          • I “just” play games.

            I think what Eno says here may be key to why some games (like the picture up there) excel with an 8-bit or pixel art style and in some it feels merely tacked on or lazy.
            Pixel art allows for personal interpretation of imagery to a greater degree than photorealistic style; like a book to a movie.
            Neither image style is presenting a “real thing”, but pixel art has a twin impact of nostalgic connection and the power that comes with suggesting an IDEA of a way to perceive something, rather than a solid image which is ready to be picked apart and criticised.
            The events of the game need to feel right for the art. Sword & Sworcery; the landscapes and events felt truly epic, the subject of a legend whose details are blurred from retelling, so it worked.
            Then there is a ream of “8-bit” platformers on Steam that look lazy and ho-hum.

            @travisnew87 I’m not going yo tell you how to do your job, but the subtleties of Eno’s statement may be worth contemplating. Eno’s work is not exactly known for compartmentalization or maintaining genre/methodical boundaries…

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