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Nuit Blanche 2010: Chiptunes and an Arcade Renaissance

Digital games were the focus of at least two Toronto Nuit Blanche events I took in this past weekend, both testament to the cultural reach of games and significance of classic gaming hardware.

Just in front of Old City Hall, a collective of young chiptune artists called the Game Boy Guerrilla’s staged a chiptune “mega show,” featuring nine local acts including bossFYTE, jefftheworld and DJ Eastern Blok.  Chiptune music, for the unfamiliar, is made by using modified game hardware as synthesizers, taking advantage of the unique audio possibilities offered by the sound chips of classic game systems such as the NES, Atari 2600 and Game Boy, among others.

During the mega show sets, the repurposed blips and bleeps of cherished 8-bit video games were more than enough to stoke the interests of Nuit Blanchers, poaching much attention from the thousands of people checking out the Daniel Lanois Later That Night At The Drive-In soundscape next door.

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