The Rise of Game Photography – The Now

A brief history of Game Photography and Screenshots

Horizon Zero Dawn™ Field of View

To understand where one is going, one must first understand where they are and how they got there. This series aims to provide an insight into why screenshots and game photography were first created, the state of Game Photography now and where Game Photography may be going.

Part 2 of The Rise of Game Photography series (find part 1 here) looks at the influence modern photography has had on gaming, where photography in gaming is today, and what games have added in specialised photo taking modes (i.e. photo modes).

Photography’s Influence on Gaming

Photography has had a wide ranging and lasting influence on gaming as we know it today. Many of the steps forward in lighting and brightness in games have been helped by how digital cameras interpret light.

Some games have also been directly influenced by photography, including games like Pokemon Snap, Fatal Frame and Afrika. These games use camera as part of the game, with Pokemon Snap judging photos taken along a Pokemon Safari roller coaster, Fatal Frame including the camera as a vital tool in seeing things that can’t be seen with the naked eye, and Afrika allowing the player to swap between camera and lense types to capture the perfect African animal photo.

Games that have been directly influenced by Photography have seen high levels of success, showing that photography is a vital part of our experiences and culture.

Below are some of the Pokemon Snap photos I took on the Nintendo 64 in 2000.

Pokemon Snap Starting Screen
Pikachu on a Surf Board in Pokemon Snap
Squirtle on a rock in Pokemon Snap
Bulbasaur from Pokemon Snap
Kangaskhan and baby stomping around in Pokemon Snap
Dugtrio and Pikachu in a factory in Pokemon Snap
Jigglypuff Karaoke in Pokemon Snap
Haunter in a cave in Pokemon Snap
Meowth chasing a Pidgey from Pokemon Snap
Butterfree from Pokemon Snap
Pikachu on a beach from Pokemon Snap
Rapidash on a volcano in Pokemon Snap

Today photography is still influencing games, with Zelda – Breath of the Wild requiring the use of a camera like device for moving forward in the game, and Uncharted – The Lost Legacy has the main protagonist taking shots throughout the game.

Game Photography Today

Since I visited the 2017 Melbourne PAX, we have started Arcade Geographic and done a whole lot of research into photography in gaming.

Game Photography has many names:

  • Game Photography
  • In-Game Photography
  • Screenshots
  • In-Game Screenshots
  • Screenies
  • Game Photos
  • In-Game Photos
  • Video Game Photos
  • Video Game Photography
  • And the highly controversial – Gameography (pronounced proudly by the man that made it up as “Game-O-Graphy”)

Arcade Geographic attempted to find a complete list of video games with photo mode, but without success. So we did it ourselves, and compiled from several sources a comprehensive, but not exhaustive, list.

From this list I created a graph of all games with some sort of photo mode over the last 15 years.

This is a graph of the number of games with photo mode for each year.
Number of games with Photo Mode (Y) with year game was released (X)

This graph clearly shows that there is an upwards trend in games coming out with some sort of photo mode. With big players like Nvidea getting behind the movement, we should see a lot more games coming out with photo mode, and it becoming a more mainstream feature.

Games like Horizon Zero Dawn (which I will use as an example here) have a photo mode with most of the bells and whistles you would find in a high end camera. Horizon Zero Dawn has set the bar high for photo modes going forward.

Specialised Photo Modes

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As you can see in the images above from Horizon Zero Dawn, there are a lot of options to choose from when taking an in game photo that will be familiar to IRL photographers. These include:

  • Aperture
  • Focus Distance
  • Brightness
  • Over Exposure
  • Grid
  • Field of view (zoom)

As well as these, there are also options for camera placement:

  • Crane – for moving camera up and down
  • Roll – for rotating the camera
  • Normal Movement – move in or away, or offset the camera.
  • Body Pose
  • Facial Pose
Horizon Zero Dawn™ Field of View

Where in-game photography differs from IRL photography is where the game gives you options you couldn’t have IRL or without post-processing.

  • Hide player and Characters – get rid of your cousin holding a knife in a photo like a boofhead
  • Time of day – change the time of day, and so the angle of the sun, moon or stars
    • Possible IRL but would take a lot of patience!
  • Borders, logos and filters
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In the future we would expect these options to become even more comprehensive, with not only the addition of more features available on IRL cameras and phones, but more in-game options that couldn’t be done outside of a game.

See Part 3 of The Rise Of Game Photography here.

the authorRobbie


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