There are three things one should never discuss in polite company: religion, politics, and videogames as art. However, while each of us tends to hold a wholly inflexible position regarding these subjects, I believe I may have found some common ground regarding the latter. Can we not all agree, at least, that videogames inspire art?
Examples are nigh inexhaustible, from in-game machinima to gallery shows like the ever popular i am 8 bit exhibition. But there’s one particular form of game inspired art that should be immediately accessible to anyone with a passion for gaming: bead sprites. This gamer craft employs fusible plastic beads to recreate iconic images from classic (and sometimes more contemporary) games pixel-by-pixel.
These labors of digital love can be as simple as playing card-sized tributes to the blocky Super Mario Bros, or as complex as multi-layered, multi-sprite combination pieces painstakingly assembled to accurately convey the subject’s true 8-bit grandeur. This monolithic representation of Dr. Wily’s Skull Castle from fan-favorite Mega Man 2, for example, was created by bead artist and chiptune musician Doctor Octoroc over the course of 6 months. It contains over 22,000 beads in 47 individual sprites, comprising some 14 combined layers, and eating up more than 80 hours worth of the good Doctor’s free time. Additional pictures of this bead sprite can be found in Doctor Octoroc’s Flickr stream, and help to give a better idea as to the genuine breadth of this undertaking.
Those interested in this remarkable flavor of crafting should have no problem finding tons of other gaming- and non-gaming-related bead sprites through online art and community sites like deviantART and Etsy. And those looking to try their hand can get a short how-to from Octoroc or take a look around the Bead Sprite forum for more pointers.
The only question remaining concerns whether Doc plans to sell this finished project or keep it for himself. How much does it cost to FedEx an evil genius’s lair anyway?