The Obsolete Gamer Show: Rob McCallum (Box Art – A Gaming Documentary)


Remember when there was no internet or game demo’s to find out what a game was really like? Remember when box art was really, well, art? Something someone painstakingly created and often received little to no credit for?

We talk with Rob McCallum who’s Kickstarter, Box Art – A Gaming Documentary, explores the history of video game box art and the unsung artists responsible for those images many of us remember and enjoyed.

Last time Rob was on our show we talk about his other successful Kickstarter and gaming documentary, Nintendo Quest and this time he shares more insight into his new project and why you should back it. He also tells us about how he got into the film industry and what aspiring filmmakers can do to make it in the industry.

So check out the show, let us know what you think and visit the Kickstarter page as well as the films website.

Click here for the Box Art Kickstarter

Click here for the Box Art Website

Atari Box Art

New series, The Obsolete Gamer can be many things, you could have been a Commodore 64 player or a classic console gamer and of course the DOS gamer. There are many different types of gamers and we all went through different experiences growing up in the gaming revolution. This new series will cover many of them from the mainstream to the obscure.

Today gamers have a wealth of information, at a click of a mouse they can learn almost everything about a game before they buy it and can even rent it to make sure they really want to own it.

Let’s turn back the clock to the Atari 2600 days where you had little information on what was coming out. I am sure there were some publications out there, but for many of us we just went into the store looked at the box and made our decision right there.

The Atari 2600 did have commercials and some did show game footage, but many were simply “By it because” commercials like the one below.

Yes, you buy it because your kid wants it and to be honest I did not know one child who didn’t like their Atari 2600, but let’s move on to the box art.

Art is truly the correct term to use because that’s what they were art, not screenshots. I do not think this was done to mislead the customer, but let’s be honest the artwork and the game almost never matched up. True we should not expect to have seen a game that looked exactly like the box, but let’s face it we were children.

Here’s is the box from the game YARS’ Revenge:

ATARI Yars' Revenge box
ATARI Yars' Revenge box

Pretty sweet, the cool looking alien thing, the simple space background and awesome explosions. Now let’s look at the commercial.

Wow, that’s almost subliminal. You have the family playing, the weird out of place music, a splash of gameplay and the Atari logo saying “Have you played Atari today” what else do you need. This commercial would have sold me as a kid and most likely when I got to the store and saw the box art I would have really been excited.

As kids we did not have such a high expectation of graphics, as long as it was fun we loved it so in the end the box art versus in-game graphics did not matter. Still, there was a higher leap of faith when buying games which had a pretty high price tag even in the 80’s.

Looking back I really liked the work and design they put into the box art which is one reason Atari 2600 boxes are worth a lot in good condition today. Sure, as gamers we did not get too much from the box, but for the most part the game we ended up with became a classic. The same can’t be said for many of the NES titles.

So, gamers from the past, what was some of your favorite Atari 2600 box art and how did it influence your purchase?