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Nintendo’s original selfie machine is reborn with BitBoy

There is something deeply 'Nintendo' about the Game Boy Camera. It mirrors the design philosophy of the Game Boy so well that it's staggering to think about. This was a digital camera built out of the cheapest possible components built for a decade-old handheld (that even at the time of it's release in '89, was already made out of budget parts) that could take 'photographs' in four shades of grey. It is pure Nintendo design that made the idea of the Game Boy Camera possible.

BitBoy

And while it might not have become a photographic standard there are more than a just a few thousand of these little oddities scattered throughout basements and toy boxes and thrift stores and garage sales around the world. And if my hunch is correct there is about to be an influx in interest due to a new device that will delight the most deeply hipster part of all of us.

Enter BitBoy.

BitBoy

A collaborative effort between engineer Alex Bahr and Game Boy Camera enthusiast Daniel Akselrad, the BitBoy is a godsend for those of us with undeveloped photos sitting on our GBCs. The device lets users extract their carefully shot works of art directly from their Game Boy Camera onto an SD card and do with those images what they will. It runs on all operating systems; as long as you can read from SD cards you're good to go.

BitBoy charges through MicroUSB so you don't have to deal with any more batteries than you already do, lugging your Game Boy around. You can even extract things like Pokedex data and other images from games compatible with the Game Boy Printer though I'm unsure on the complete list of compatible games at this time.

Imagine having a hard copy of your Pokedex Completion Certificate though. Welcome to the 21st century, my friends.

BitBoy

The applications of the BitBoy have my mind reeling at the possibilities. One of my favourite subsections of Game Boy Camera fandom is the 'found photos' galleries. Picking up a second hand camera often means leftovers still saved on the device - on Game Boy Camera these are absolute artistic treasures. Pictures taken of dogs or siblings or fuzzy, barely-legible shots of childhood homes; it's tough to not sound creepy when talking about going through other people's personal photos but the abstract, lo-res nature of the Game Boy Camera means that so few details are recognizable in these images beyond the suggestion of a smiling face or someone striking a pose in a decently-lit living room. And no timestamps means you have no idea when these were taken - Christmas '98 or last week before the box full of old toys got taken to Value Village. It's a time capsule with a perfect intersection of abstraction and familiarity.

Other 'Funtographers' (NINTENDO'S WORD, NOT MINE) have captured centuries-old architecture, portraits of big names in the game industry, or shots of their morning commute.

BitBoy

I can vividly imagine any of the small art galleries in my neighbourhood housing a show consisting entirely of Game Boy Camera photos and it makes me supremely giddy.

Regardless of what new kind of ultra-niche photography we see come out of the Game Boy Camera's revival, I'm looking forward to the conversations that the BitBoy will help start when it releases in October.

Pre-orders are open now for $65 plus shipping. Hopefully I'll be able to grab one and give more hands-on impressions as well as share some of my favourite shots. If you want to see examples of other people's work using the BitBoy check out the Facebook group Game Boy Camera, follow @gameboyphoto on Intagram and Twitter, and just search for Game Boy Camera photography. It's super cool.

You can learn more about the BitBoy, Alex Bahr, the Game Boy Camera and see more example photos by reading these two articles by Jeremy Parish at USGamer.

And do yourself a favour -- grab a Game Boy Camera before prices start to go up...