Much like cross-stitch patterns, early video games were primitive by necessity. Despite their crude, blocky forms, many 8-bit characters have been loved and mythologized to the point of obsession. I believe this is because the sprites were easy to reproduce and easy to integrate into imaginative play. Video game characters are cross-cultural symbols of fun.
I don’t think it is merely childhood nostalgia that attracts me to the visual aesthetic of stacked, two-dimensional blocks of color. I think we strongly identify with simple shapes because their elegance leaves room for our imaginations (and unique life experiences) to fill in the details. The complex meaning we are able to convey with minimal elements is the main appeal of 8-bit illustration art (or spriting) for me.
P.S. Here are some fellow pixels artists I’ve randomly discovered: Jude Buffum, Richard Stevens, Craig D. Adams, Andy Rash, Nick King, Al Creed and, of course, the German collective eBoy. And where would we be without Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto?