Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Solar Game Boy Modding and Homebrew

solar media collective website | TAG blog post | solar game boy mod tutorial

As part of the Solar Media Collective, Alex Custodio and I organised a series of workshops and a game jam focused on solar Game Boy modding and homebrew game design using GB Studio.

Our research proposes that designing games for a recognizable and nostalgic platform can be a potent entry point into thinking about playful sustainable energy interventions. As a battery-powered device that requires direct light, the Game Boy has always possessed a symbiotic (and often contentious) relationship to the sun and to energy concerns more broadly. As a widely adopted and modified household electronic, it’s uniquely suited to allow us to contemplate the relationship between political economies, DIY cultural practices, and environmental sustainability.

a picture of a yellow solar-modded game boy sitting in a planter, surrounded by green leaves

Speculative modding practices are hopeful, yet, also temper our expectations and remind us that there is no panacea for the current woes of media manufacturing, production, and distribution. Each foray into commercial hardware is equal parts delight and frustration, exposing the transformative potentials and harsh limitations embedded within technology. Our practice is both pragmatic and idealistic, reconciling solarpunk imaginaries in the face of technological ambivalence.

Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer