Campus gallery brings video games to life



Senior Art student Robert Marrojo showcases his 8-bit style painting on Monday at the Kiln Gallery.

Sam Benavidez,
Arts & Life Editor

Seated at his desk, accompanied by his MacBook and soundtracks from video games ringing from the speakers, senior art student Robert Marrujo greets gallery-goers as they pass through on the first day of his show.

“Press Start” is an art show aimed at converting the digital world into something physical that is both colorful and filled with familiar Nintendo images.
“You interact with it, but you’re never actually touching it,” said Marrujo. “What would it be like if it was actually three-dimensional?”

Marrujo, an Art Major at California State University, East Bay, is holding the show in the Kiln Gallery in the Arts and Education building. The show is part of the senior capsule series of classes, where each student puts together their own gallery as a course requirement.

The gallery has a mixture of painting, marker and colored pencil illustrations, as well as clay sculptures.

“Growing up it was Nintendo,” said Marrujo. “I didnt really branch out until I got to college. I’ll play just about any type of game.”

PressPlay_SamBenavidez-1His personal favorite, one of the more recognizable to Nintendo fans, the Yoshi Egg, is among the largest and most three-dimensional on display.

“I was in Target and they had all the stuff up for Easter, and they had plastic eggs, said Marrujo.  “I was like, I’ve got to turn it into a Yoshi egg.”
Fake moss and plant leaves that create an outdoorsy feel to the piece surround the white egg with green-painted spots in the back corner.

Marrujo did not originally feel comfortable in the art department when he started at CSUEB in 2004. He took several years off as he felt his style was somewhat out of place with his graphic, comic book-style illustrations.

“At the time, I felt like my particular style didn’t mesh. I didn’t think I was working well in that part of the school, so I ended up switching to an English major,” he said.

Marrujo did not complete his English degree, but upon his return to CSUEB, he decided to try again, this time finding his place in the department.
He says professors in the department are more accepting of his personal style  this time around.

“One of the discussions we had in class was being able to make it accessible for people who don’t play games,” said Marrujo. “Because if you don’t play games, it’s just a lot of stuff on the wall.”

“Sometimes you look at art and you don’t know what it means if it’s something abstract,” said Marrujo. “It might be visually appealing and make them want to know more about the game.”

When asked about the social aspect of video games, Marrujo spoke highly of the interactions online, but was aware of the dangers as well.
“I definitely think gaming is multifaceted in that it can be an escape for people, but I think it’s communal,” said Marrujo.

“There are negative aspects as well, though.” said Marrujo. “People can become wrapped up in it and it kind of replaces their life because all they’re doing is gaming, but you could kind of say that about a lot of other things.”

Marrujo also holds a Senior Editor position at Nintendojo, a Nintendo fan site that focuses on news and reviews of current games.

At first he was offered a contracted position at the website, taking on small assignments, but continued to grow and pitch ideas of his own. After a year of consistent writing, Marrujo was promoted to the Senior Editor position.

“I write about contemporary games, but I’m also interested in the history, and not just the games,” said Marrujo. “I like looking at what marketing did they do at the time and what artwork they created for this game.”

“Press Start” is on display in the Old Kiln Room Art Gallery in the Art and Education Building, room 1202, until Saturday.