Orphaned Computers & Game Systems

Vol. II, Issue 3    April 1998

That Fascinating Dot / The Building Block

By Chris Federico and Adam Trionfo

That Fascinating Dot

By Adam Trionfo

The pixel is the smallest element available on the computer screen. It is the light that shines forth from our television sets when we play our games. It is the power that binds a game as it keeps us interested. It breathes life into empty blackness. Without the pixel, there would be nothing to put on the black screens in our homes. But to look at the pixel (so tiny!), it appears nearly worthless. Can it really do anything?

What secrets the pixel holds! Alone it is barely noticeable, but never unseen. The brightest and darkest colors that are available are brought to us by that little dot that's insignificant by itself, and which nobody ever seems to think of, but which holds all of us fast with fascination. The pixel proves that it really isn't size that counts, but rather how you use that size. -- AT

The Building Block

By Chris Federico

The pixel (or literally, picture element) is the only object you can see on the screen that you can't criticize. It's not like an alien character, or a cloud-drawing or even a bullet. It doesn't call for an opinion, because it's like a snowflake in an igloo. You don't argue about the building materials, you look at the whole structure. But a pixel is also like one card in a house of cards; if it's the wrong color, put in the wrong place, or not added where appropriate, it can screw up an entire drawing -- tiny or not. Because graphics are, after all, illusions achieved through the assembly of a bunch of these blips.

Sorry, Adam, but it IS the size that counts. Has it been so long since you've played an Odyssey 2 game? Smaller is better. Maybe that's why I don't do very well with women. Anyway, the pixel correlates with what keeps programmers fascinated, regarding code (consciously or not), and which has certainly always been an enormous part of the appeal for me: the concept of a bunch of very small, extremely basic elements all being used together in order to provide the illusion and/or functionality of something incredibly complex and sophisticated. Now, that's entertainment! -- CF