I’d noticed Jim Groom tweeting various bits of trivia about Atari game systems over the past week or so and thought something must be up. Sure enough, he just created a new assignment called Remixed Game Covers. I got a kick of seeing what he did with the old Atari Bowling game box and the Big Lebowski for his first entry. As someone of an age to have vivid memories of wanting and eventually getting an Atari 2600, this assignment was an invitation to revisit ancient memories. Additionally, it seemed like it would be a pretty simple assignment to do as all it calls for is:
Take a video game cover and remix it to change up the meaning or play with the general idea of the game.
Jim mentioned he’d try to use an animate GIF in his next attempt so I immediately decided to try to beat him to the punch. I scrolled the hundreds of scanned boxes at the Atari Age site until I found M*A*S*H. As this was a program that I watched for many years (at one point it was possible to see five episodes a day in rerun on the various cable channels – and I did) in junior and senior high. Then I jumped over to YouTube and found a clip of “Funny MASH Moments” set to Yakkety Sax.
Once the parts were collected, I used MPEG Stream Clip to grab the five frame sequence of Lt. Col. Blake with baton and Cpl. O’Reilly on drums. I opened the Atari Box image in GIMP and brought in the five frames as layers and begin trying to make the GIF. All I can recall now is that it took more than three hours and I nearly quit more than once.
My intention was to have the animated GIF replace the game graphic on the box while keeping the orange/yellow sticker in the bottom and the red and white diagonal bar in the bottom right. There was a problem because the space was too tall for the GIF. So after I erased all of the graphic, I duplicated the box layer and chopped the top and bottom of either layer and moved them closer together (basically cutting out the middle). Then I had to duplicate the box layer 5 times and merge it down on to each of the five MASH frames. The delay on each frame is 250 milliseconds. I’m not sure if this ideal but it seems to work.
In terms of a story, for me it is trying to imagine how such a game would play. Today was the first time I’d ever even heard of this game. It’s not something I’d have been interested back then even though I was huge MASH fan. I didn’t see the movie until many years later but something about the show worked for me. I suppose it was the general attitude of contempt for authority. My favorite character was Henry Blake which might explain why I selected the clip I did. Thinking about his final episode, Abyssinia, Henry, still chokes me up. It seemed such a tragic and senseless turn of the story line which ultimately, to me, was a powerful anti-war statement. I seem to be drifting into middle-aged nostalgia which nobody really wants or needs so I’ll wrap this one up. Just to close by saying that once again I find myself stunned with what I encountered during the several hours of working through this assignment.