Musings on Renouncing Pixel Art

“A Pixel Artists Renounces Pixel Art” by Blake Reynolds


Now this is a rather fascinating article. I love old video games and their general aesthetic. I’ve even toyed with the idea to make a game or two myself. Since at least the late 2000s, heavily pixelated graphics reminiscent of the low resolution games of the 80s and 90s have come into prominence in gaming. So much so that is their ubiquitousness now that the entire aesthetic practice, I feel, may be on the edge of becoming somewhat passé (much like the the bright warm pastel neons of the recent ‘synth-wave’ trend) . Personal misgivings aside, this article spoke to me because it brought to light some considerations that made look at pixel art somewhat differently.

The author’s writing points to a particular issue with pixel art as a digital medium. That being that it was primarily an aesthetic choice born from nostalgia, imposing upon itself the limitations of that era’s graphical capabilities. In turn, this so called ‘retro’ style resonates far less with a younger demographic which may not be familiar with the any of the games the style draws from and forward-facing modern audiences far more in tune with and accustomed to the high resolutions of today. This ends up alienating entire potential demographics due to, ironically enough, a perceived sense that  such a visual style is anachronistic and/or of low quality.

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