Venus Patrol is a website in search of beautiful things from the world of videogames, founded by Brandon Boyer — chairman of the Independent Games Festival, co-creator of JUEGOS RANCHEROS, and former editor of Offworld, a website with a similar mission which was produced in conjunction with Boing Boing from 2008-2009.
Venus Patrol was produced following a successful campaign on crowd-funding standard Kickstarter, where nearly 1800 (mostly) extremely patient and supportive people donated to help make the website and its related properties a reality.
The campaign would not have been possible without additional support from the game developers and artists who banded together to produce an honestly sort of unbelievable lineup of backer rewards, including art by Katamari Damacy & Noby Noby Boy creator Keita Takahashi, Double Fine artist & illustrator Scott C., comic artist James Kochalka and Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward.
Also included were exclusive game releases like sci-fi survival horror Capsule by Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman, tongue-in-cheek hip-hop first-person-shooter Gun Godz, by Super Crate Box creators Vlambeer (with a guest appearance by underground hip-hop legend Dose One), a still to-be-unveiled new creation from #sworcery co-conspirators Superbrothers & Scntfc, and the first public version of Johann Sebastian Joust by Die Gute Fabrik.
Upon the successful closing of that campaign — at the time (ie. in a pre-Double-Fine-Adventure universe) one of Kickstarter’s most-funded videogame-related projects — Venus Patrol entered into a long period of darkness, while it spread its tendril-like roots down deep in the direction of several areas of related media, in hopes of having a solid foundation on which to build from its launch onward.
Meanwhile, in March 2012, Venus Patrol partnered with two UK-based groups — The Wild Rumpus, London’s premiere indie games event coordinators, and videogames radio show One Life Left — to present an evening of music and games at San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference. Known best by its URL, allotherpartiesaretriteanddull.com, the event was a near-instant success, selling through some 900 tickets, most before its lineup was even announced.
Later, in August 2012, Venus Patrol was invited to present a week of games at La Gaîté lyrique, Paris’s esteemed & frankly totally amazing gallery/cultural space, as part of Joue le jeu, a record-breaking summer-long Gaîté exhibition curated by Heather Kelley, Cindy Poremba and Lynn Hughes.
The so-called “Venus Patrol Orientation Program” was the first event where Venus Patrol bared its face to the wider public, and included the release of the “Venus Patrol Orientation Manual”, a print zine produced with the help of Oscar Barda and Théo Kuperholc that attempted to tune audiences toward Venus Patrol’s particular wavelength & perspective on videogame culture.
The “Orientation Program” exhibition presented visitors with Keita Takahashi’s Noby Noby Boy, Adam Saltsman’s Capsule, Vlambeer’s Gun Godz, and Neil Thapen’s Venus Patrol, the game which inspired the name of the site itself.
It also included an early version of Steph Thirion’s Faraway, the European premiere of Queasy Games’ Sound Shapes (weeks ahead of its commercial release), and a mysterious looping video project produced by Superbrothers and Scntfc……
Venus Patrol itself was officially launched soon afterward, on September 10th, 2012, and soon branched off into the micro-blogging arena with B-Side — a flipside blog that catalogs the best music, art, animation, motion graphics, illustration, comics from a wide variety of insanely talented people who should definitely be more involved in games — and Micro, a dedicated and prominently-featured Tumblr that disseminates Venus Patrol content to an audience of subscribers that very quickly reached six figures.
The final week of October saw the launch of the Venus Patrol Training Facility, a six-game installation in Nottingham, UK as part of the annual GameCity festival.
Dominated by a dual-trampoline section that was prepared for both Bennett Foddy’s Get On Top and George Buckenham’s Proteus Frog God Mod (above), the tent also housed Honeyslug’s PS Vita football game Passing Time, and GIRP, Barabariball and Hokra — all presented together in sly preparation for the Sportsfriends Kickstarter that would debut soon afterward.
In February of 2013, Venus Patrol added a new member to its family tree, becoming the new home of GameToilet, the ultra-brilliant games comic series from artist & game dev Jerry ‘King Baggot‘ Carpenter.
In March, Venus Patrol again partnered with Wild Rumpus for another party at San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference. This time, the highlight of the party was Tenya Wanya Teens, a brand new game produced specifically for the party by Keita Takahashi — his first new game release since Noby Noby Boy — in conjunction with Wild Rumpus & Venus Patrol.
The debut of the game, as well as its music lineup — which expanded to included acts like Sound Shapes co-creator I Am Robot And Proud and Super Hexagon composer Chipzel — drove second-year attendance even higher, with some 1400 tickets sold, and was hailed by Vice Magazine as “the best party of the conference”.
The party also saw the debut of another collaboration between Venus Patrol & Keita Takahashi: the “We Are Videogame Romantics” T-shirt, a design inspired by a speech Takahashi had given at the 2006 Game Developers Conference.
The Videogame Romantics shirt became the first exclusive product offered through the Venus Patrol Shop — an online store for art, fashion, toys & more — when it launched at the end of April, in conjunction with and operated by Fangamer. A dedicated social site for the Videogame Romantics shirt soon followed.