A “video game” gets meaning

When I was younger I heard about a home gaming console called the Sega CDi. None of my friends ever had one, but I saw a “game” called The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe for the system one day. At that time, I didn’t know who Robert Mapplethorpe was or how a game could exist about pictures of flowers. After I began reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, I finally learned who Mapplethorpe was.

Smith’s memoir is all about her life and relationship with Mapplethorpe. It also focuses on how they survived while waiting for their big artistic breaks, how others viewed them and their relationship and how they interacted with their family and friends. I’ve only read through about a third of the book so far, so right now Smith and Mapplethorpe are still struggling to try and make it in the art industry.

Out of everything I’ve read so far, the thing that appeals to me the most is the attention to details when it comes to the boroughs of New York City. It’s always cool to read about how celebrities’ old stomping grounds are where some of us live right now. I particularly enjoyed when the couple took the subway over to Coney Island and had an original Nathan’s dog with some of the money they saved up. There’s nothing like classic fast food Americana to get you feeling nostalgic!

As I read through the rest of the book, I realize that Smith and Mapplethorpe weren’t the only people who were living off spare change around that time. There were many other struggling artists who just wanted to break into the industry of that choice. As my main interest in college (and future work) is filmmaking, it’s always unsettling to hear stories about young men and women who spend time working on artistic projects and believing things will change the next day only to not get realized and lose their homes, friends and jobs. Despite the startling nature, this theme of struggle creates a very real NYC feeling as well as gives a sense of the times back then.

A copy of "The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe" for the Sega CDi.

"The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe" for the Sega CDi.

And to be honest, I still don’t know why they made a video game about pictures of flowers. Haha!

-Daniel Scarpati

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About Daniel Scarpati

Daniel is a university scholar at CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College double majoring in Film Production and TV/Radio. His blog was created with the intention of providing friends, family and general visitors a place to sit back and relax while reading, watching and learning.

2 thoughts on “A “video game” gets meaning

  1. Smith’s memoir is all about her life and relationship with Mapplethorpe. It also focuses on how they survived while waiting for their big artistic breaks, how others viewed them and their relationship and how they interacted with their family and friends. I’ve only read through about a third of the book so far, so right now Smith and Mapplethorpe are still struggling to try and make it in the art industry.

  2. Just making a correction to your article. There is no such thing called a Sega CD- i. Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe was made for Phillip CD- i system. It’s strange that they made a game about pictures. When Flowers of Robert was released, video games companies were new in using CD technology despite CD existing since the 80′s. With this new technology, video game companies wanted make video games more interactive. So that is why you will find mostly full motion videos and still picture games in the early 90′s cd games.

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