How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Mod Game Boys

Cleaning up our workspace.

Of all the GeekDads on staff here at, uh, GeekDad, I’d be willing to guess that I am the least mechanically inclined. I have the sort of gross ineptitude that only comes as a result of a childhood spent without a real father figure in the relative isolation of the rural South. I also have the overwhelming fear of electrical shock that only comes as a result of many poorly conceived attempts at tinkering.

Still, as I looked around my new home for fresh challenges for this equally New Year, I couldn’t help but notice that my most obvious abundant resource was Nintendo handheld gaming systems. I’ve long adored the simple form and keen functionality of the Game Boy line, and as a result I’ve amassed quite the collection of these antiquated portables.

Despite my ties to the chiptune and demoscene communities, I honestly had no idea how to do anything in the way of modding or kit-bashing, but a fateful Google search led me to Kitsch-Bent, an online retailer of custom parts and mod kits located — fortunately for me — in nearby Hickory, NC.

Thanks to the quality, affordable components and helpful service I’ve received from Kitsch-Bent, my kids and I have case-swapped and totally refurbished two of my most damaged DMGs, and just today I added a front-light to my old Game Boy Color — my very first Nintendo portable, and the system that got me back into gaming as an adult. (It ain’t exactly perfect, but I did it, and that’s worth a lot on its own.)

I’ve discovered that the simplistic yet rugged design of the Game Boy and the strength of a hobbyist community more than willing to share its collective expertise makes these devices a great place to learn the basics of modifying, upcycling and simply messin’ around with electronics… for kids and adults alike.

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