Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Q*Bert Quilt

Back in the early 1980s I was a big fan of video games--not unlike tens of thousands of other kids around the country. I was lucky enough to get a ColecoVision system for Christmas in 1982 (see Resurrecting The Past: ColecoVision for more details on that). While I loved ColecoVision and other home video game systems I do have to say that in those days nothing compared to playing the actual video games on those big stand up machines in an arcade. My little hometown had a small arcade for a couple years during the height of the arcade age, and I was sometimes able to get to the nearby city of Worcester, MA to spend quarters (and tokens) on games at larger arcades. But when an arcade wasn't convenient I would play video games where and when I could find them--and that sometimes meant going to a pizza parlor (or some other establishment) to play the one or two games they had set up near the windows to lure kids in to spend quarters and buy food and drink. One such pizza place within walking distance of my house became a regular after school stop for me. It was great to get a slice of pizza and a can of soda and then spend all my hard earned paper route money one quarter at a time on the resident video game that they had. This particular place only had one game, but they regularly changed it. After getting pretty good at a game like Frogger I would then have to start all over and learn how to clear screens on Donkey Kong Jr. or Centipede. For a while this pizza place had Q*Bert, and it became one of my favorites. Q*Bert was the video game that had the little orange guy with the long nose jumping around on a pyramid of cube shaped steps. It's amazing to think that it's been almost thirty years since I last played that game!

Q*Bert cabinet (from the site

Which brings us to the present. A few weeks back The Wife, The Little Monsters and I took a road trip to visit The Wife's grandmother in Buffalo, NY. It's about an eight-hour trip for us, and can be quite trying with two Little Monsters in the back seat.

Anyway, The Wife's grandmother is currently residing at an assisted living complex. She has been there for a few years. It's a pretty nice place. I could certainly see myself living somewhere like that in my golden years (not that I'm in any rush to reach those golden years or anything). On this trip I noticed that there were a number of quilts lining some of the walls. The quilts were made by residents of the place, and some of them were quite impressive and interesting.

There was even a very impressive quilt that depicted the famous painting "The Child's Bath" by Mary Cassatt:

While many of these quilts were very nice indeed, one of them above all the others really caught my eye--and it wasn't too difficult to figure out why. It featured a pattern of colorful cube-shaped designs that looked strikingly similar to a certain video game that I played in my youth. It's the one on the left below:

I have no idea if it was pure coincidence, or if the creator of the quilt was inspired (consciously or unconsciously) by the look of Q*Bert. Cubes are certainly a common geometric pattern used in artwork, but the resemblance between this quilt's cubes and those of Q-Bert are very plain to see. Check it out:

Image from

Image from Wikipedia

Finally, as if finding a random (and apparently unintentional) video game reference in a quilt at an assisted living home weren't odd enough, check out this strange coincidence. I thought that the idea of writing a story about a "Q*Bert Quilt" would be pretty unique. ...But I was wrong. While searching online for screen shots of Q*Bert and photos of the game's cabinet for this story I was stunned to find a blog about...yes, an actual Q*Bert Quilt! I kid you not. It just goes to show that you really can find pretty much anything on the internet.

This quilt is obviously actually intended to be Q*Bert and is not simply made up of a random geometric pattern which just happens to look like the game. The photo of the quilt comes from the blog Read all about the "real" Q*Bert Quilt here:


  1. That is awesome! I had a friend who had a Tetris Quilt that his mother made him.....but this is actually far cooler!

    1. Wow, a Tetris quilt? That actually makes some sense--design-wise. Obviously the quilt I saw wasn't really supposed to be modeled after Q*Bert (that I know of). It was a neat to coincidentally stumble upon an actual Q*Bert quilt online!