After 4 years of photography in high school, it is fair to say I love it. This love has continued on in my years since high school. Photography is an art, one that is likely the most accessible even for those who consider themselves artistically challenged. Photography is capturing the beauty of a moment in front of you. In this article, I am going to be combining my love of photography with video games. Showing off some that directly include it and some features of modern gaming systems have that expanded it further.
I have to talk about Pokémon Snap. This growing up was my first large introduction to photography. I adore this game. Pokémon Snap is a simple game that originally released for the Nintendo 64. It is a gem. Basically, it is a Rail-Shooter type game, but instead of gun you have a camera. As you move, the Pokémon will move around the environment. And as you go, there is also the ability to unlock items that help interact and make Pokémon appear or do certain actions. In the first course, the Beach, you can guide a Pikachu to a surf board in the sand using the apple item. It will jump and play on it as you take pictures before you’re forced to move on.
At the end of each course, the pictures will be scored based on: Size, Technique, Pose, Same Pokémon, and Special. Size comes down to how close the image is and getting close-ups are great. But make sure that the Pokémon can actually be discerned. Technique comes down to where they are placed in the image, the ideal for the game being the center. Pose is whether the Pokémon is doing something – taking a picture of a Pokémon doing nothing but standing there is a bit boring. Same Pokémon is based on if there are more than one of the same Pokémon in the image. And Specials are the ones that usually take more effort to create; like the Surfing Pikachu I mentioned earlier.
Another notable game- or rather games, is the Fatal Frame series. This is a series of survival horror games, and in each game, the main character is given a Camera Obscura. This camera is the only means of defense against the ghosts that dwell in the game. By taking pictures of them, you will damage the ghosts. There will also be some passive ghosts to take photos of before they disappear. The stories in these games have been inspired by real locations and hauntings. The use of the camera as a defense against ghosts seems to play off the belief of cameras having the ability to steal one’s soul.
Next is Legend of Zelda Wind Waker Wii U! This game was a remastered edition to the original that was on Gamecube. The Wii U edition came with a fun feature: taking selfies. The camera that was included in the game allowed for a lot of fun. There were even side missions that would require the camera. The ability to share the photos was another joy for gamers and could be helpful. A photo sent in message bottles could show the answer to a puzzle to another player that might have struggled with it – or just taking selfies in boss rooms. Hold on Ganondorf, I just need to get the right expression.
There are still many more that are out there: BioShock, Bully, Beyond Good and Evil, and Dead Rising.
While the previous games have the cameras as a game mechanic, where the characters are what is taking the picture and the rest of world is their subject. Other games include a feature called ‘Photo Mode’. This is where Players are the photographer. I have personal experience with 2 games that included this feature: The Last of Us and Bound.
Photo Mode will pause the game, and the characters and world freeze in place. Players can now move the camera to get the angle they want or zoom in on the subjects. The feature can also allow players to edit the image slightly. There can be a variety of ways to edit the images in terms of brightness, hue, contrast, grain, focus, adding filters and more. The limitations can vary depending on what game you are in.
The developers of Bound, Santa Monica Studios, has held 2 contests so far based around this feature with their game. The game itself does invoke a lot of beautiful images on its own. But this contest was a way to inspire players’ creativity. They are even continuing to add more filters and additions to this mode to promote this further. If you get the chance, I encourage looking through the images that have been submitted. Better yet, take some of your own.
A good portion of my love for the PlayStation 4 comes from the tiny convenient share button on the controller. PlayStation can have the game screenshot the moment you unlock a trophy. Now sometimes this can lead to boring black screens for it, but it isn’t always that limiting. Those screenshots serve as a memory to accomplishment. Xbox does have a way to take screen shots, but it isn’t so easy. Steam also has the ability open for gamers to capture moments of their game play. This feature in the consoles now allows for instant photos of a game and an experience.
This seemingly small inclusion has now made it possible to share the wonder and fun of games for anyone – clear real images, not the static and blurry images of capturing the screen with a camera or phone. They now come almost instantly with the ability to upload onto social media.
“If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.”
Whether we’re in awe at the beauty of a game or just capturing something that struck our eyes, art is something that moves you enough to stop for a brief moment and take the image. That’s what the share feature involves. Whether it is taken to be shared with others or just something for your own enjoyment, it is your photograph. Your Moment. Your Memory.