The first time I played Dig Dug, I was 11 years old.
More than likely, I played it at Skate West in West Des Moines, Iowa. We went to the roller-rink a lot back then. Jesus, that was so long ago. Those 8 bit games left a lot to the imagination. But we had the cabinet art, and that was always really cool looking. Good cabinet art could sell a game. The same thing can be said for the first games that made it into my home. My first personal computer was an Atari 400, and all of our games had amazing box art that I studied and traced and re-drew. My first real love affair with a video game was Origin System’s Exodus: Ultima 3. And that manual had about 8 illustrations that informed how I pictured what was happening to my characters in the game.
I’m glad that video games now are filled with high-resolution artwork and amazing design. This isn’t a longing for simpler times. Things are better now for sure. But how lucky was I to be born at the right time, to be the right age, to experience the dawn of video games? I think that feeling, that love, is what’s informing all the great comics over at Shiftylook.com. We get to dive in there and tell all the stories we imagined while we were playing. Hell, we had to imagine it, because it certainly wasn’t on the screen. Like Dig Dug says (in a comic strip I just drew for Shifty), it was the 80’s and they only had 8 bit systems to tell their stories. They counted on kids to fill in the rest with their imaginations. And we did. Happily.
I’m going to be working on more stuff for Shiftylook this fall and early next year. More Dig Dug stuff, A Mappy comic strip and of course the Blamimation style series that Kris and I are cooking up. I’m looking forward to sharing some of the joy we got growing up playing these games. In the meantime, check out the strip I did to join in the celebration of Dig Dug’s 30th anniversary. And stay tuned.