The best science fiction is deeply architectural, immersing the reader in a fully imagined world leagues different—or lightly tweaked—from ours. Video games, by contrast, traditionally had an out, limiting their pixelated reality by screen edge or vertical scrolling. (What happens to the left and to the right in Tetris? Who cares, you’re distracting me.) But as gaming has become more sophisticated, so has the architecture of the games, pushing the avatars out into spaces with up, down, side-to-side, and even behind.
Technological leaps are often accompanied by nostalgia for simpler times. And so, as the cassette tape (two, maybe three, technologies back) reappears as a design for an iPhone case, the new Disney movie Wreck-It Ralph—$149 million domestic gross and counting—comes along to remind us how sweetly we gamed in the 1980s, and to suggest that HD isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.