Online identity is a big deal these days. We can spend hours every day tweeting, putting together TikToks, and tweaking our takes for a growing audience. This level of investment is undeniably exhausting, and a part of me wishes we could transport ourselves to a simpler time when online existence was infinitely more passive.
They weren’t about larger-than-life characters, we were little more than a name and a picture glued to the screen for others to interpret. Strangers could always compliment your mom’s sexual prowess and send you death threats, but it was done with a simplicity that I can’t help but admire. When you took the time to send a message around this time, you meant it.
When the Xbox 360 was launched, the world of online console games was in its infancy. You needed a dongle to even connect to the internet when there were only a few ways to express your personality to the masses. You have chosen a Play area – Leisure, Pro, Underground or Family – before settling on a Gamerpic.
The console launched with just 12 options, and I want to go through them today and see how they hold up, and whether or not they represent what it means to be a gamer in 2022.
Anime Cat Girl
It’s somewhat unsettling to see all of these images in high definition for the first time. Many of them were designed to be viewed on CRT televisions and early HD displays, so only a handful of them today hold up.
For example, this once adorable anime girl now looks absolutely exhausted. She was on a bender one school night and now has to stumble in class with hardly any sleep. She still looks adorable, but the bags under her eyes and the false positivity betray it all. But catgirls have stood the test of time, even becoming boys in the years since the Xbox 360’s launch. Ahead of its time and undeniable queer icon. We are standing.
Yet another prophetic gamerpic, the Monkey is more relevant in 2022 than ever before. It’s the original NFT, a cranky-looking primate leaning toward the screen with the dead eyes of a crypto sibling.
Granted, the simplistic line art and color scheme looks pretty terrible when viewed at a higher resolution, but there is something simple but alluring about it. It’s also fully fungible – which is a nice bonus.
Emo Boy Hat
See how nervous this guy is. Hate, the singular eye, the subtle shadow hiding the features of his face – he carries an emo energy that you would find on Bebo or MySpace in 2005. It even has a subtle stud to indicate its fruity while blowing a bubble upside down. his pals. I’m not sure you can pull off this look today, maybe on TikTok.
The dog featured in this gamerpic probably died years ago, which is a little depressing. I’m also not sure why his poor nose is pushed so aggressively against the camera, as he certainly doesn’t look comfortable. Maybe Microsoft was trying to capitalize on those dog toys with massive heads that were a big deal back then.
It’s a football. Back of the net etc.
Speaking of soccer, this dragon wouldn’t be out of place in your local hooligan’s jersey as he starts a brawl in the nearest away game. It’s sweet, simple, and could have been put together in minutes on a modern smartphone. I guess in 2005 it was a little more nuanced, but it’s okay nothing for me right now.
Now it’s more like that. Get a load of this awesome little guy. Her charming smirk, one hand resting on her chin while the other supports her sassy hips. He’s been here for a while and for a long time, and given the problematic nature of our panda population, I can’t help but respect that.
Man with blue face
This gamerpic gives off the energy of a mascot one would find on a website used to download illegal MP3s. Her characteristic smile, her dead white eyes and her uncompromising dedication to the beat. It was elegant in 2005, but
today it looks a little silly.
Pandemic Guy Skull
Another pissed off. All the cool kids on the playground sported this gamerpic, or someone who discovered porn on Newgrounds one random afternoon. Many of these avatars are minimal with dead eyes and basic functionality, which has done wonders when lower resolution demanded simplicity, but it all falls apart when you take a closer look.
Hackers and gamers are basically the same thing. My first Xbox 360 came with a huge folder full of pirated games like Gears of War, Oblivion, and many more – so an avatar like this was oddly appropriate. Don’t tell Phil Spencer I told you.
This thing gives off disturbing levels of MSN Messenger energy. It dates back to a time when emojis were straightforward and honest, expressing emotions with the robotic artifice that only the early internet could provide. Don’t stare at it for too long.
Waves remain an iconic aspect of the Xbox 360 visual identity, so one could argue that this gamerpic has aged better than all of its siblings. Personally, I think it looks a bit boring, without the 2000s personality seeping into everyone else like battery acid. But it’s iconic for a reason, so more power.
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