90s/00s edutainment game aesthetic

power gem

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is anyone else interested in the aesthetic of late 90s/early 00s PC edutainment games? i'm not artbrained enough to have the proper vocabulary to describe it, but i'd attempt to define the characteristics of this aesthetic as

>aliased graphics
>organic, curvilinear shapes
>basic sprites with detailed backgrounds
>highly detailed texturing and shading
>"radiant" shading - light seems to emanate from the center of objects
>sometimes a style sort of approaching realism, but with cartoonish colors and proportions
>frequent jungle or nature themes

the aesthetic is thematically similar to Utopian Scholastic, but it involves hand-drawn illustrations rather than photomontages.

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(in order: Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse (1996), adiboo magical playland (1996), timon and pumbaa's jungle games (1995), kid pix deluxe 4 (2004), putt putt travels through time (1995), i-spy fantasy (2003), ClueFinders: The Incredible Toy Store Adventure (2001), jumpstart spelling (1998))

i have been interested in the art of these games since i was young - i remember spending a long time looking at the different backgrounds in kid pix and studying all the details. as i've gotten older what has stuck with me is how many of these games were essentially disposable products meant to briefly entertain children, yet so much care was put into illustrating them by hand. whatever the equivalent of abandonware edutainment games is today (probably dodgy indian apps on the g**gle store), i assume its all a soulless mishmash of default unity assets. i also think it's strange how this aesthetic seemed to suddenly disappear in the mid 2000s.

things i want to know: is there a name for this aesthetic? was this style just a side effect of technical limitations & the art software available at the time, or was it a conscious design decision based on contemporary trends and influences? was this aesthetic found outside of video games?

i'd also be interested to learn if any modern games have tried to revive this aesthetic. the only examples i can think of are Hylics and some parts of Hypnospace Outlaw.

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elia925-6

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i'd also be interested to learn if any modern games have tried to revive this aesthetic. the only examples i can think of are Hylics and some parts of Hypnospace Outlaw.
Not an educational game, but one example is Machinarium and amanita games. Honestly an article about it written by evan collins like the obsession of children with discovering other regions especially ancient egypt would be a great idea since he tries to research the whole forgotten 'Global Village Coffeehouse' fad and the ongoing Y2K revival. I can't find examples of articles about 90s art without emphasizing on memphis.
 
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power gem

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things i want to know: is there a name for this aesthetic? was this style just a side effect of technical limitations & the art software available at the time, or was it a conscious design decision based on contemporary trends and influences? was this aesthetic found outside of video games?
replying to my own post: i was looking at evan collins' are.na tonight (recommended reading for anyone on agora who isn't already aware of it) and came across the Wacky PoMo aesthetic. this seems to touch on some of the same themes, although there are other things going on.
That 'wacky kidz' marketing aesthetic prominent from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, an amalgam of exaggerated, askew forms & motifs pulled from Googie, Deconstructivism, Memphis Milano, 1940s-60s comics, cartoons & kids marketing, Willy Wonka-esque Victorian whimsical eccentricism (including 'Mad Scientist tropes), cartoonified industrial vernacular, and light gross-out kids' humor (goo, ooze). Typically bright, loud, acid-toned colors similar to the 'Cyber/Gen-X Corporate' style. Sometimes other contemporaneous aesthetics like Multiplex Deco or Cyber Gen-X Corporate are incorporated, albeit with a cartoon-ified touch. 'Hypnosis spirals' are a common motif, interesting considering the demographic & controversy around children's marketing during that era.

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Orlando Smooth

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The images you've posted here are honestly more nostalgia inducing than anything I've seen on Agora, or anywhere else online, in YEARS. It reminds me of a lot of the tech company marketing from the 90's and Y2K era when people still thought that Silicon Valley was full of wizards instead of demons. Back when everyone thought the future was full and bright. The hardware was shit and the software was scrappy, but damn things had so much more soul back then.

Anyways, I think the LeapPad embodies a lot of that oldish edutainment aesthetic.
 
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Sketch Relics

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If I had to take a guess, it was probably a result of a fusion between the aesthetics of King's Quest V, Myst, and the early Learning Company titles. Since these would have been influential games/styles for these sorts of games at the time.
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The wakier elements of the super solver titles, the coloring work from King's Quest, and the underlying structure of Myst.
 
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Orlando Smooth

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This thread was kicking around in the back of my mind until I was able to remember Miss Spider's Tea Party. It was apparently released on play station, windows, and Mac in 1999, but I only remember playing it on PC in "the computer room" of my elementary school in '99-2000ish. Seems like it fits a lot of the aesthetic descriptions you laid out but in a more simulated-3D environment.
 

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manpaint

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I don't think this astetic died off in 2000s. IIRC, I have some old and obscure edutainement CD that use the artstyle you are describing and were produced in 2000-2010. I should really dump thoses ISO on the Internet Archive.

Also this aestetic is also found in Purple Palace - one of the game prepaged with Windows 7 familar. But yeah, it seems like this aestetic has died as far as I can tell.
 

Itubaino

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Man, I used to play these videogames that came with the cable tv and even though I played them on 2010/11 they seem to fit in the aesthetic, I miss the times I played them, optimism for the country was in the roof, social media was a rare thing and I was an innocent child among the problems that come with the future
 

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is anyone else interested in the aesthetic of late 90s/early 00s PC edutainment games? i'm not artbrained enough to have the proper vocabulary to describe it, but i'd attempt to define the characteristics of this aesthetic as

>aliased graphics
>organic, curvilinear shapes
>basic sprites with detailed backgrounds
>highly detailed texturing and shading
>"radiant" shading - light seems to emanate from the center of objects
>sometimes a style sort of approaching realism, but with cartoonish colors and proportions
>frequent jungle or nature themes

the aesthetic is thematically similar to Utopian Scholastic, but it involves hand-drawn illustrations rather than photomontages.
[pics]
[...]


things i want to know: is there a name for this aesthetic? was this style just a side effect of technical limitations & the art software available at the time, or was it a conscious design decision based on contemporary trends and influences? was this aesthetic found outside of video games?

i'd also be interested to learn if any modern games have tried to revive this aesthetic. the only examples i can think of are Hylics and some parts of Hypnospace Outlaw.

View attachment 46361View attachment 46365
hi! what i want to say, you can ask there, idk much, but they should. they collect aesthetics, so you can write your question too, there, maybe youll get answer (to your question): https://aesthetics.fandom.com/f
 
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h00

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Found this site where you can play a lot of classic DOS Edutainment games

This video shows how MS Encarta differs from year to year

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEySJkXezeg

2001 has a lot of cool visualizations but 1995 is my favorite

LGR also has a great playlist on Edutainment games

View: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE6039486A9B854CC
 
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Skookumsquitch

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I have been looking for this game my whole life. I played it as a kid bit was too young and underdeveloped to ever finish it. Traces of it have lingered in my mind since then, and just recently I started thinking about whatever game it could have been—and then I stumble upon this thread. I'm just shocked that it actually exists. I have some bizarre fever dream still pictures of it in my head. Maybe I might find it online and finally finish it lol. Thank you.
 
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Sketch Relics

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nightmare to some kids
dude wake up, you aint seen much... (XD)
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btw it was, sort-of, edutainment tv show... helped kids to question things, at the near end of communism
 
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manpaint

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