Remember that time your parents asked you to mow the lawn and you did such a terrible job they never asked you again? The same approach can work with coworkers or friends inviting you to endless video calls when you show up as a low-resolution, grainy, black and white video stream courtesy of the Game Boy Camera.
As limited as the Game Boy Camera’s capabilities were (it used a 128×128-pixel CMOS sensor cropped to 128×112-pixels that was limited to just four shades of grey) for a lot of kids in the late ‘90s it was their first digital camera at a time when that technology was prohibitively expensive. The images it captured were awful, even for 1998, and they were trapped in the Game Boy unless you also bought a tiny thermal printer peripheral, but through user-friendly software Nintendo made it all work, and 23 years later, there are enthusiasts who still like to shoot with the Game Boy Camera and take advantage of its lo-fi aesthetic.
The retro enthusiasts behind the YouTube channel, RetroGameCouch, found yet another use for the Game Boy Camera: as an emergency webcam if all of your other streaming hardware suddenly stops working. It brings the retro charm of the accessory to everything from Microsoft Teams, to Zoom, to even Twitch if you use the platform to stream retro games, and making it work with a modern PC or laptop isn’t terribly difficult if you have the proper hardware.
The first thing you need, besides a working Game Boy Camera itself, is either the Super Game Boy cartridge that Nintendo released for the Super Nintendo or the Game Boy Player for the GameCube. Both devices allow Game Boy cartridges to be played on a TV, or, in this case, provide a video stream from the Game Boy Camera’s live preview.
If you’re using either of those original Nintendo consoles you’ll need to add a device that converts an old-school composite or component video signal to HDMI, or you can opt for modernised equivalents, like the Analogue Super Nt, that natively features HDMI out and provides a much cleaner and sharper signal. The last piece of the puzzle is a simple HDMI to USB capture card which is now no larger than a USB flash drive and can be found online for less than $20. These turn the video signal from the console into a webcam feed that can be accessed by the myriad of video conferencing apps available for Windows or macOS.
You’ll need a separate mic if you want people to hear you because the Game Boy Camera had no audio capabilities at all, but that should be all you’ll need to subject your friends and colleagues to one of the worst video call experiences they’ve ever had. Hopefully, they won’t ever come back for seconds.
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