History & Futures – Week 8: Design & Critique

Thoughts on Week 8 Lecture & Resources

Read-Only Memory

As a fan of retro video games, I found this week’s lecture by Darren Wall of Read-Only Memory very engaging. In the past, gamer culture has often been overlooked and ridiculed, but it’s been interesting to witness a gradual shift in perspective and the growth in appreciation for video games as an artform (and a pastime) within my own lifetime, after growing up with a love of Space Invaders, Nintendo, Sega, and a younger sister who was obsessed with the Final Fantasy series.

Read-Only Memory were commissioned by Japanese games giant Sega to produce a book on the classic Sega Dreamcast games console.

I particularly like how he described the process of taking something typically considered “low culture” and subverting this by turning it on its head, creating a “high culture” object on that subject, a beautifully crafted book, designed to be treasured. It was interesting to learn about the thinking behind this, where the aim was to make something that sparks a physical, emotional connection linked to the experience of actually interacting with a real video game, particularly the 80s and 90s generation of games, which was incredibly tactile (due to the physical nature of using controllers, cartridges and consoles), as well as being visual and vibrant.

500 Years Later: An Oral History of Final Fantasy VII, which features a code-breaker bookmark enabling the reader to see hidden messages in the book.

I was intrigued by the idea of taking this thought process a step further and adding a layer of interactivity by including a meticulously made bookmark which allows you to see coded messages within the printed book, a nod to the way video games have hidden content, or “easter eggs” – something which is only visible if you know how to unlock the content.

A book on arcade game typography by Read-Only Memory.
Images via readonlymemory.vg and thamesandhudson.com


Workshop Challenge

Visual Research

The new Great Tapestry of Scotland building in Galashiels.

The new museum that will house the Great Tapestry of Scotland (the subject of my visual culture essay) is a unique and visually striking building. Currently it’s not yet open to the public but the outer façade is visible, so I went to the site and took some photographs for inspiration. Its unusual roof structure has an undulating, zig-zag style appearance so for my final design, I want to incorporate this and evoke the architectural form by presenting the publication as a concertina-folded book.

The additional rationale for taking this approach is to visually emulate the idea of a frieze, so that the individual pages are joined up horizontally, forming a visual narrative, much like the tapestry itself.

Design Development

Front cover concept.
Design mockup showing the front cover of the folded, square format book.
Back cover concept with synopsis text.
Design mockup showing the back cover.
Testing out ideas for the concertina-folded book design.

Reflection on the week


Read-Only Memory. Arcade Game Typography. Available at https://readonlymemory.vg/shop/book/arcade-game-typography/ [accessed 20/03/2021]

Thames & Hudson. Arcade Game Typography: The Art of Pixel Type. Available at https://thamesandhudson.com/arcade-game-typography-9780500021743 [accessed 20/03/2021]