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No. 42: 36×10 Garfield

36×10 Garfield

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Strip by: Leon Arnott

{A collection of large, colourful blocks of pixels}

The author writes:

Jason Rohrer's video games, Passage and Gravitation have a unique art style to them - the game area is only 100 pixels wide and about as many pixels high. The player characters of these games are only 8 pixels high and 8 pixels wide.

Within these limitations, and without the use of text to provide context, each pixel becomes vitally important in portraying detail and form.

The above Garfield strip is simply the comic image for 1982-06-07, reduced to 6.25% of its original size. It's only through the framing of this image as a Garfield strip do you instantly recognise the 12 orange and black pixels in panel 1 as Garfield the cat sitting upright, and as the mess of grey pixels above him as his thought bubble. That luxury of context isn't afforded to Rohrer's games - and it's thus quite admirable that he is able to portray his games' elements unambiguously.

Another aspect that the above Garfield strip can only hint at are the beautiful ways that Rohrer animates his games. The background pixels fluctuate and fade between various shades of colours as they transition from, say, snow to grass. The resulting effect adds a degree of vibrancy and liveliness to his games' otherwise constrained images.