April 2015: ‘Palette Swap’

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

Glad you could make it. I hope you enjoyed your March and the first of April’s showers have already started to wash away all of winter’s cigarette butts and dog poops. Come in, come in. We’ll play a game! Pick out the piece that will represent you. Oh, don’t worry, they’re all the same. No. Not the green one.

I’m the green one. I’m always the green one. Green is me. Green cars are the fastest, green armour the most protective, green hair the most alien-seducing. I’m not making it up, I have a lifetime of being the green piece to back it up.

It doesn’t take much to identify with an in-game representation: just a colour or a reflection is all we need to craft ourselves in our on-screen or on-board surrogates and we want to know all the ways you come to identify with that most simple of identifiers: the ‘Palette Swap’.

Sub-Zero and Scorpion, Billy and Jimmy Lee, the weird technicolor nightmare relationship of Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi. Palette swapping a character was an easy way to differentiate characters with the same model that was cheap, efficient and, let’s face it, effective. But what does palette swapping do? Does it leave an original with multiple copies or does that bare minimum of difference mean something? Does the palette swap assume there is no original and does that even matter? Do games themselves treat players like palette swaps of a template? Is a palette swap a lazy stretch for more content or does it show how important subtle differences can be? Do we expect more out of games now that they’re “beyond” pixels and palettes or has nostalgia sweetened an old artistic technique? We want to know about the avatar haircut that made you identify with a character, or the shopkeeper model you most engaged with. We want to know how the player-2 model felt more right than the default character.

We’ll be accepting blogs until April 30 . You can see current submissions here:

Use this code to embed the links in your blog, if your publishing platform allows iframes:

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Please email us your submissions or tweet them to @MarkFilipowich or @critdistance with the #BoRT hashtag. Happy blogging!

Rules of the Round Table

  • Blogs of the Round Table is not curated. If you write it, we’ll publish it, as long as it’s connected to the topic and has been written specially for BoRT or up to one month prior.
  • This BoRT post is the home of the discussion: as I receive new submission blogs, we’ll update the ‘BoRT Linkomatic’ so new blogs are reflected on this page immediately. We’ll also use the @critdistance Twitter account to post regular updates, so follow us!
  • Your duty as a knight of the round table is to leave a comment on a blog to which you respond with a link to the response piece, to give them a ‘right of reply’. Keep the conversation going.
  • If your work contains potentially disturbing content, please include a suitable warning at the start. Use your common sense.
  • You can submit as many articles as you like throughout the month, and it doesn’t matter if they are commercially published, paywalled or available for free. We will need a transcript for paywalled content to be approved.