All information on this site is through my own findings and is believed to be correct. Any corrections, errors or admissions that need to be made, or artists that would like to be involved in BOX=ART, please feel free to contact me.
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BOX=ART quick menus
BOX=ART is a site dedicated to the history of video game box art/ cover art and the artists responsible for them.
Box arts are profiled from a variety of angles using high quality scans and with the intention of acknowledging the men and women who have played such a major role in shaping our gaming experiences.
Not only for video game enthusiasts, BOX=ART is for all who enjoy quality artwork.
>History - 1980
Much of the quality box arts that adorned Atari, Colco and Mattel’s hardware in 1980 would be instantly recognisable to anyone versed in 70’s cover arts, with many of that decades artists such as Cliff Spohn and Jerrol Richardson carrying on into the next.
1980 would also be the year the world’s first third-party publisher, Activision, released its debut game for the Atari VCS console: Dragster. With it the publisher created one of the most iconic box art designs in the industry. Its bold, pop art layout would dramatically stand out from the pastel shades that had coloured Atari’s in-house cover arts to that point, and would help distinctly brand Activision’s early releases up until the end of 1983.
The American home computer scene in 1980 would start to come into its own with the popularization of the strategic “wargaming” genre that companies, The Avalon Hill Game Company and Strategic Simulation Inc. pioneered.
Box arts would commonly be battle themed and painted with some historical realism by artists such as Louis Hsu Saekow and Bob Haynes - known for his board game art. These games came housed in over sized boxes which would allow for blurbs on the back, and would be a far cry from the crude plastic bags early RPG’s such as the Enyx games had shipped with a couple of years before.
The year 1980 would start much like the previous decade had finished with North America leading the way in box art design.
By Louis Hsu Saekow
B-1 Nuclear Bomber
By Bob Haynes
Notable and influential box arts from North and America and Europe 1980.
Dates shown are the original year the box arts were released.
>Click on the images to enlarge.
B-1 Nuclear Bomber by Bob Haynes
Published by The Avalon Gaming Company in 1980.
Designed for the North American market. Available on Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, TRS-80.
Posted - June. 1, 2015 by Adam Gidney
By Steve Hendricks
By Lela Dowling
By Don Dixon
Other related BOX=ART pages.
Lords of Karma
Rescue at Rigel
By George Barr
Game Pack 1
Europe’s video game scene in 1980 would tentatively start with the release of the Acorn Atom and the Sinclair ZX80 home computers. Box arts would be functional and similar to other available software packaging, and at this point came with no distinct art works. This lack of artistic merit would be satisfied by American imported games - mainly Atari VCS software - whose cover arts would ship unchanged.
Japan at the start of the decade would lack a home video game scene outside of its pong style machines, and so no distinguishable box arts were available (it is up for debate as to whether Sharps early MX series and Sord’s M200 had video games developed for them in 1980). The region would have to wait until a couple of years later until its home computer scene produced any fruits, and unlike Europe it wouldn’t receive America’s video games and cover arts until around 1982 - 83.
A number of firsts…
>First sport endorsement and likeness used on a box art - James Kelly’s, Pele’s Soccer (Atari VCS).
>First example of Americanisation of Japanese character art with the cover art for Taito’s, Space Invaders (Atari VCS).
>First third party box art, Activision’s, Dragster (Atari VCS).
>First box art by famed publisher Avalon Hill and prolific box artist Louis Hsu Saekow, Computer Bismarck (Apple II).
By James Kelly