It's not Friday, but some fanart is too amazing to save 'til the end of the week. Coming out of the UK, digital artist and SCEE employee Ashley Browning has thrown together a set of pixels that speak volumes with what they don't speak.
While even dedicated fans may need some prompting, the effect of this piece once you start recognizing the different characters from the SNES/arcade classic Street Fighter II is striking. Soon, all sorts of questions begin to arise, and all of them point to an essence of game character design that many of us miss: Are colors and proportions really enough to recognize a character once our minds know what to look for? Are size and hue the most important aspects of designing a distinguishable humanoid? Do modern game characters lack this caricaturesque eye-appeal, or is it just overexposure that forces the SFII cast into our collective memories so deeply? And if it's neither, is there really any way to test that without some sort of simplification rubric, which by itself is subject to a skilled artist's interpretation?
On the other hand, these blocky things look like if you took Ryu and people and made them into Atari characters! Haha! Anybody can do that!
More seriously: art that comes out of gaming culture is tricky, because every instance and iota must be derivative. We all want to celebrate our shared culture--the childhoods of staying up late to grind in a Final Fantasy title, the self-gratification of spending your last quarter at an arcade machine on this chance to prove yourself. It's a uniquely geeky hobby that predates the internet, and no matter how easy it becomes to hit the 'matchmake' button, most gamers will always long for these external ways of recognizing each other's interests.
Most art only speaks to that nostalgia and recognition, but Ashley Browning's minimalist bit also shows us how difficult it is to fashion characters that are distinct from each other when you take away the basest of bitrates. If you want to support the artist, you can put it on a t-shirt and wear it around town, smirking at the confusion it will cause in the non-gaming populace.
Ashley Browning's art also includes a set of gaming icons as minimalist faces that continues to grow.