Game Boys live on in unexpected ways #LifeAfter30 #GameBoy #Nintendo #Gaming #History @LAtimes

Via the LA Times, thirty years after its release, the Nintendo Game Boy lives on in ways far beyond its intended use.

“The Game Boy came out on top because it was able to offer a lower price and people could actually take it on the go. They didn’t have to lug extra batteries and a wall charger and stuff with them. It really was a true portable console,” said Kelsey Lewin, a project manager at the Video Game History Foundation, which aims to preserve, catalog and digitize all materials surrounding video games.

The Game Boy ultimately paved the way for mobile gaming and how we play today. “I credit the Game Boy with getting into gaming. Period,” Lewin says.

And Game Boys, it turns out, have infinite lives.

Today, instructions for adding a backlight and other modifications can be found online and already-modified Game Boys can be purchased. These customizations give new life to the original Game Boy as gamers can now own a device that fits their personality or style.

Guillermo Hernandez, 35, has fond memories of getting his Game Boy when he was 8 or 9 years old. He now designs and sells custom Game Boys, which include different exterior color combinations and more.

Guillermo Hernandez shows his modified Game Boy Color with a camera and his image on the screen. The handheld, fourth in the Game Boy line, was released in 1998.
Guillermo Hernandez shows his modified Game Boy Color with a camera and his image on the screen. The handheld, fourth in the Game Boy line, was released in 1998. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

“Once you backlight a Game Boy, you can really appreciate all the artwork that goes into these games. You can really see, like, every pixel for pixel. It looks perfect,” Hernandez said. “Back when I started playing with it, it was great, but we didn’t know how good it could look.”

Hernandez also specializes in audio tweaks for musicians. He’s created what he calls a “Synth Boy” by packing a synthesizer kit into a Game Boy for an all-in-one instrument for chiptune artists.

Music and Pictures

L.A.-based Paladin Shield incorporates 8-bit sounds into their music.

Software installed into cartridges allows musicians to use the handheld gaming device as a music generator.

“For me, the emotions that are conveyed through the bleeps and bloops of the Nintendo Game Boy is not just nostalgia. It’s very complex — like of emotions of naiveté and childlike innocence, but also isolation and alienation almost,” says Jesse Avila, a member of the L.A. chiptune band Paladin Shield.

His three-piece indie rock band uses a modified original Game Boy and a Nintendo, to complete their ensemble. Onstage, the band uses a MIDI controller to manipulate the sound of the Game Boy.

“Without it, we’re just a typical shoegaze indie rock band, but I feel like (8-bit) gives it an extra dimension of emotion, of conveying what we stand for, so to speak,” Avila said.

The Game Boy Camera is an image-capturing attachment that uses the console’s cartridge slot to enable the handheld to take 128-by-112-pixel, black-and-white pictures. These photos could be printed using the Game Boy Printer, released in conjunction with the Camera.

Over the years a number of other GB Camera enthusiasts have experimented with the photographic capabilities of the device through modifications such as adding a telephoto lens or tricks to create color photos. But San Diego resident Maxwell Scheller enjoys using it in its classic state, original Game Boy and all.

“I feel like there’s an art to it,” said Scheller. “It makes me feel artsy.”

See more in the LA Times article

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