Layers Of Video Game Action, Captured In Eye-Exploding GIFs

Here’s what you’re subjecting your eyeballs to when you binge on Xbox.

A few weeks back, your favorite blogger’s favorite blogger, Jason Kottke, posted an incredible animated GIF. It showed five throws by Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish layered on a single frame, illustrating the remarkable consistency of Darvish’s delivery and the wild unpredictability of the pitches themselves in one elegant loop. In essence, what the GIF did was collapse time–not altogether unlike long-exposure photography, just much more selective. Nicolas Boillot does something very similar, except instead of baseball, he looks at video games.


The French artist gives us a new way of seeing something we already know: Video games are like candy for our eyeballs. On screen, things are constantly in motion, flitting and flickering, begging for attention. Unsurprisingly, all that activity looks even crazier in aggregate.

The project started in 2012, with a series that employed the same technique to interrogate the vapid 24/7 visual assault known as television. The results make your eyes want to bleed, to be sure, but they’re fairly randos. Video games, predicated on patterns, are a slightly more interesting study.

The first game Boillot looked at was Geometry Wars. A 40-second clip, created for a DVD Dead Drop event at the Museum of Moving Image, shows the simple action as an accumulation of pastel mayhem. Even though it’s from one of the gaming world’s most maximalist titles, graphically speaking, a little superimposition results in a lot of cacophony.

After that, Boillot tapped Marvel vs. Capcom, a fighting game, for another set of loops. The frenzied, splattered loops will undoubtedly confirm many mothers’ worst fears.

The pieces, Boillot explains, are part curiosity, part criticism. By layering the in-game action, he hopes to give some empirical sense of how games are designed to keep us hooked. So, next time you’re binging on Halo, try to think back to these clips. Maybe your peepers deserve a rest.

See more of Boillot’s work here.


[Hat tip: Triangulation]