In his heyday, the latest pop-culture icon to get a video game didn’t rap or play professional sports. He painted happy trees and happy little clouds.
Late last week, in what initially appeared to be an April Fools’ Day joke, video game developer AGFRAG Entertainment announced that it is developing video games based on the paintings of the late TV artist Bob Ross.
The beloved painter became famous more than 20 years ago for his mellow instructional art show “The Joy of Painting.” And now he’s set to become a video game icon.
“I grew up watching Bob Ross on PBS and was always in awe of how quickly and smoothly he made these beautiful paintings, which helped inspire my creativity,” said AGFRAG founder Joseph Hatcher in a statement on the official Bob Ross Web site. “There are generations that know Bob Ross and his painting techniques, and I want to share his talent with future generations in a new medium.”
Hatcher told MTV News that he came up with the idea three or four months ago. “I saw some of the Nintendo Revolution controller demo movies, and I just put two and two together,” he said.
The Revolution’s gyroscopic, remote-control-shaped controller (see “First Look: Nintendo Revolution Controller Feels Smooth As Puppet Strings” ) will allow players to play Bob Ross games as if they were wielding an actual paintbrush. Hatcher is also developing a Bob Ross game for the Nintendo DS, which allows for painterly, stylus-driven touch-screen control.
Hatcher’s AGFRAG Entertainment has been around since 1996 and has toyed with ideas like a six-player computerized version of chess. But the developer told MTV News that any of his old ideas are now on hold.
From 1983 until 1994, the soft-spoken Ross hosted “The Joy of Painting,” which featured the artist crafting a completed landscape on canvas in just half an hour. Peppering his instructional commentary with gentle encouragement to his audience, he became an unlikely star. “We don’t make mistakes here, we just have happy accidents,” he’d say.
The public-television art teacher even wound up painting MTV’s logo in a commercial for the channel. He died of cancer in 1995.
No release date has been set for the Bob Ross games, which are still without a publisher.
For those wondering about that most essential element of Ross’ palette — his voice — Hatcher says he intends to get it into the game. “We have full rights to all of the transcripts, all of the audio archives, all of the paintings,” he said. “We like his mellow voice, and it will be very cool to allow fans to paint with him.”
Hatcher encourages Bob Ross fans to submit ideas for what they’d like to see in the game to the developer’s message board: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/bobrossgame/.