20 Years After its Release, Game Boy Camera Culture Lives on
Twenty years after its release, Nintendo’s Game Boy Camera still maintains an avante garde appeal within social media communities.
Released in February, 1998, the 128 x 128 pixel CMOS sensor was embraced by handheld gamers and their creative friends and siblings.
Although primitive by today’s standards, the technology foreshadowed numerous innovations that have since become part of our daily lives.
A portable device that took digital photographs in addition to providing an entertaining and addictive means to pass the time, it became a standard travel accessory to passengers and school-aged gamers in waiting rooms. Early on, the Game Boy revealed the untapped and net yet understood demand for a personal device that could be carried in pockets and backpacks, which foresaw the era of portable devices.
The camera’s built in tools supported editing and combining shots into animated video sequences and enhancing them with music and the manufacturer supplied special effects.
Through its link cable, the camera even supported an early social sharing model by giving gamers a means to distribute and exchange their artistic pieces among each other.
The Game Boy camera even enabled taking both pictures of the gamers’ surroundings and selfies using the camera’s rotating eyeball.
Before social media ever existed, gamers were uploading their photos into dial up forums and creating web pages to showcase their masterpieces to the community.
Today, the demand for nostalgic technology has resulted in Facebook, Twitter and Youtube sites devoted to the Game Boy camera’s history and imagery.
Seeking a means to enhance their own storytelling with the surrealistic cartoon-like images created by the Game Boy camera, film students and independent filmmakers have created short movies and documentaries using the gaming device to capture the scenes in their works.
The legacy of the Game Boy camera continues into the smart phone era through a variety of mobile apps that implement filters to modern mobile devices’ cameras, recreating the pixelated, monotone and jerky motion of the legendary Game Boy camera.