Open­ing up the game world

Graphic de­sign A new book chron­i­cles how a group of artists brought Atari’s wildest fan­tasies to life

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Tim Lapetino’s love af­fair with Atari 2600 boxes be­gan with his first con­sole, back in 1983. He’s felt its in­flu­ence through­out his ca­reer as an artist and graphic de­signer – so much so in fact, that the Amer­i­can felt com­pelled to write a book chart­ing the his­tory of con­sole’s clas­sic game cov­ers.

Part of the art­work’s beauty, Tim says, lies in its use of long-for­got­ten tech­niques – as seen on cov­ers for cult games like Video Chess and De­fender and War­lords.

“The art was so pow­er­ful and ex­cel­lent that it has stood the test of time vis­ually. Those early games were al­most crude by to­day’s vis­ual stan­dards, but the art­work it­self wasn’t. These beau­ti­ful, strik­ing im­ages acted as a pow­er­ful bridge be­tween the game play­ers’ imag­i­na­tion and the game­play it­self, flesh­ing out the over­all video gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The mak­ing of the Art of Atari saw Tim play­ing de­tec­tive, as the man­u­fac­turer didn’t al­ways credit its de­sign and il­lus­tra­tion teams. It was worth the ex­tra ef­fort, though. The book is a fit­ting trib­ute to some of game art’s for­got­ten he­roes.

“Atari’s art­work was orig­i­nally de­signed to stand out on store shelves and sell video games, and it has tran­scended that orig­i­nal pur­pose.”

To see more of Tim’s work and to or­der the Art of Atari visit www.hex­a­

The 1987 re-re­lease of the clas­sic game Cen­tipede sported this fun im­age on the boxart. 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe fea­tured float­ing grids, but the char­ac­ters and slick ren­dered look was, un­sur­pris­ingly, ab­sent.

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