If you remember the good old days of Nintendo Gameboy and Sony's PlayStation One, a new paper sculpture series by award-winning mixed-media artist Natalie Wong will bring back happy memories. RetroPlay is inspired by the resurging popularity of classic gaming.
Handcrafted and intricate in their detail, Natalie Wong's colourful paper sculptures reimagine retro game consoles such as the Nintendo Gameboy, NES One Console and Sony's PlayStation One. Each has been created using a six-tone colour palette, drawing on vintage design references. "I wanted to explore how classic gaming triggers positive emotions for players and the association with childhood memories and nostalgia," Natalie tells Creative Boom.
"Retro games have a two-fold appeal," she explains. "Firstly, classic gameplay found with older games like Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong have become timeless experiences. Secondly, gameplay is emotionally associated with happy past experiences, triggering positive emotions for players."
Naming the series RetroPlay, Natalie employed various paper-sculpting techniques to perfectly mimic all the little details of, say, the PlayStation One controller or the little game cartridges related to the Gameboy. The artworks certainly spark happy memories. "When people play a game from their childhood or even one that follows the aesthetics of a familiar title, it amplifies pleasure in the brain," says Natalie. "The reward pathways are more sensitive in children than in adults. When these childhood games are played as adults, the pleasure response from the past adds to the current experience."
Natalie emphasises that retro gameplay's allure extends beyond gaming nostalgia, saying, "Achieving success has become a part of our collective identity. This success identifier, triggered while playing childhood games, further enhances the experience. Nostalgic play may also recall positive childhood experiences unrelated to gaming."
Why does Natalie think classic video gaming has made a recent comeback? "The global pandemic and the resulting isolation have driven people to seek comfort in older games," she says. "These games teach perseverance and resilience, as players have limited lives and must earn new ones through skilled gameplay. Patience and grit are valuable life lessons learned through gaming."
Whatever your experience of retro video games and classic consoles, Natalie's RetroPlay series captures the essence of nostalgia and how returning to simpler times can profoundly impact our happiness and well-being.
Suppose you want to remember that joy in your home or office. In that case, the sculptures have been released as a series of limited edition prints, screen-printed on 308gsm Hahnemühle paper, and are available to purchase via the artist's website.