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Monday, December 19, 2011

Game Paused More Like Continue

An interview with the guys behind the video game t-shirt company and website

If you've been checking out cool video game shirts and their relaunched site. There popular on gaming sites like Tiny Cartridge and Nintendo Life you might not know they've been around for a while. I've been trying to get an interview for some time, but now you'll now a little bit more about the men behind Gamepaused.

So who is behind Game Paused?
MK (Matthew Kenyon). Game Paused originally started in around 2005, after I had
built a piece of artwork in celebration of Shigeru Miyamoto.

I figured other
creatives around the world must be doing similar inspired pieces. Thankfully, Robert
was and that is how we met.

RC (Robert Cooper). At that time we lived at opposite ends of the country, so we
worked on Game Paused remotely. We really buzzed off each other’s work from the
get-go, and we still do today.

I assume you do all the art or do you have artists you go to?

MK. We concept and design everything in house, from the tees to the site. I really
don’t know the reason, but from correspondence with the design and gaming
communities, and now customers, there is a feeling that we are a lot bigger than
what we are. It’s always just been the two of us.

RC. We’re aiming to inspire others to in turn inspire us; so we’ll be looking for
collaborators to work on future Game Paused projects.

Other than the current Game Paused site what jobs do you have or do you have
other jobs?

MK. We run a design studio called Develop, working on
brand and identity projects for a number of clients around the world. Game Paused
is kinda like a client in itself, our favorite one! Originally a project run outside of our
previous employment (usually every night) - it’s become something we can focus
on in between client projects we do as Develop.

The first I heard of you was a few years ago when you were asking for submissions
for your art book. However, you stated in a earlier e-mail Game Paused was going
to have an art show? What exactly happened you said the venue owner fell

MK. Originally, it was to be both a show and an art book called Game Paused: A
Creative Celebration of the Video Game. We had secured a date in London, UK for
the show, which was cancelled due to the owner having to move out of his gallery. I
remember at the time being asked for 10k in sterling to throw the event still, but I’d
just left university and didn’t have that kind of money! I still have 5,000 special
game shaped flyers we had made up to promote the event.

Why not just try another gallery?

MK. I think in the long run we will. Being located in the North of England means we
are slightly removed from some of the better suited art spaces where the work
could be shown as we originally intended. We had been speaking with the National
Media Museum about possibly doing a show there to work alongside their history of
Gaming exhibition. Maybe we need to look somewhere outside of the UK?

You said you moved on to a video game art book. The books would be submissions
from all over. Then the book fell through. Please explain what happened. I think I
remember e-mailing a women about submitting something, so did you have staff
under you?. Also, did the Game Paused site have a gallery section or what was the
site at the time of the book?

MK. It was planned to be designed by us and printed/published by iDN. They are
great with creative led book publications. The book was ultimately cancelled when
the concept was shown at the London Book Festival in around 2006/07. I recall the
initial response to a game based art book at that fair, at that time was ‘there is no
market for this kind of book, nobody would be interested’. Although I think they kind
of missed the whole point; I think gaming has matured a lot since then, and similar
publications have proven there is more than a little interest for this type of work.

RC. We designed a few sites around that time that featured submissions sent to us.
When we look back at those old sites we get a bit nostalgic, but the web has moved
a long way since then.

How many submissions did you get? Any artists that are well-known known. Do you
have some awesome art book around your office with a bunch of pieces that will
never see the light of day.

MK.We got anything from 1 to 10 pieces from around 800 creatives from all across
the globe. All the digital files are stored here on the server. The response was
phenomenal, which made the loss of both the show and book harder to bear. Main
concept spreads were designed as we pitched it to iDN, some of which we’ve sent
you. With the general feel towards art and gaming, and lessons learned from
before, it’s hard to say that the book, or at least a new take on it won’t ever see the
light of day ;)

RC. We had some pretty big name designers and illustrators submit work – Build,
Universal Everything, Serial Cut and Keith Webb, and some less well known illustrators
and designers who sent amazing work.

Your site now sells cool video game culture t-shirts, why'd you changed Game
Paused to that?

MK.The concept of Game Paused has never really changed. It’s always been about
celebrating the game and promoting the culture. Being designers, with a giant love
for games the T-shirts were a natural process that just kind of happened, allowing
us to express ourselves outside of our daily work. We’re looking to inspire others as
we build a community of likeminded creatives and fans from across the world.
RC. The new was always our biggest goal – to have a site that
could be a platform for creative gaming. As we continue to build features we hope
the community will begin to grow on the site, and in future products and

Where do the ideas for the shirts come from?

MK. The history of gaming is rich both in general entertainment value but also in
iconic design and imagery. Although we have a pretty obvious love of Nintendo, we
take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, including outside of gaming.
Because some of our designs are part of bigger series (eg. Exploded series), 

we have starting points for new designs, which allow us to take concepts further. I think
we must have a scary number of designs and alternatives stacked away.
RC. We always aim to produce that have a depth of idea to them, not just a pretty
picture. The T-shirt is a great way to get our ideas into peoples hands (and chests).

Did you try making any deals with video game companies or have any game
companies contact you?

MK. We had a lot of game companies actually contact us when the book was going
to happen, and was fortunate to receive official artworks from some. Sega sent us
hi-res imagery from REZ (one of my fav games ever) .

Recently, some of the UK gaming press have been in touch to feature the tees, and the new site has
begun to connect us with the community/industry again.

Any funny stories about your lives because of Game Paused?

MK. I shaved both of my arms for the Wii and DS posters, which Rob found highly
RC. We’re internet geeks, so we’re always sending each other silly photoshop’s of
ourselves. The one shown here is not actually photoshopped (promise).

Do you think you'll every try again for the art book or show again? IAM8BIT, Autumn
Society, Gallery 1988 and Game Over, video game art shows, have seen successful
here in California, and there's been some success in France with 8-Bit Champions
and Space Invaders show, so it might be nice to try again or be apart of them.

MK. It’s always a possibility. Jon Gibson did an amazing job with IAM8BIT - every
year I get excited at what that show and spin-offs will bring next. All those shows
have shown it is more than possible. Like revisiting the book with a different
concept, the same would have to be applied so we could hopefully bring something
new to the scene.

Please explain what type of gamers you are? Like do you only play old-school or do
you like rhythm games?

MK. Great question - we talk about this quite a lot. From my point of view, I’m an
exploiter (I like to win the game/others) and Rob is more an explorer (loves to take
it all in). I play a stack of genres, with favourites across the board (rez, halo, braid,
limbo, meatboy) - but I find art based/indie/alterative are beginning to interest me
more than anything else.

RC. I’m definitely an explorer for the most part. Give me a game with great details
(Mario World, Yoshi’s Island, Rez), expansive worlds (Mario Galaxy, Banjo Kazooie
Nuts & Bolts) and new interactions (iOS, Wii, Kinect) and I’m hooked.

Your current games?

MK. Child of Eden, Skyward Sword, Mariokart 7, Tinywings.

RC. Mario Galaxy 2 (exploring), NBA 2K12, Bumpy Road, The Last Rocket.

Finally, if given the chance what game would you create?

MK. Have you been viewing our server??? ;)

RC. Something really really fun, with great details.

Be sure to check out these blokes shirts at their site Gamepaused
Check out my other interview with video game t-shirt company Meat Bun.