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The Rise of Game Photography – The Future

A view on the future of Game Photography and Screenshots

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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 3 of The Rise of Game Photography series (find part 1 here and part 2 here) focuses on the future of game photography. We will discuss the importance of not only photography in gaming, but also in society, and what this means for games in the future. New technologies like VR and AR will have an impact on photography in games, as well as the blending of game photography and real life with AR. We will also dive into what we want to see in game photography over the next few years.

Ongoing importance of photos in society

Society has changed in many ways since mobile phones became mainstream. One of the ways this change has shown itself is in the taking and sharing of photos. Mobile phones with cameras have allowed us to capture any moment in our lives, and share it with basically anyone.

As we have come to take this photo sharing ability for granted, we have also started to expect it in any activity we do. That is where GoPro found a large niche, with people wanting to take photos in extreme places or activities. We are also starting to see more people wanting a whole 360 degree picture of what they are doing.

If we take this concept of people wanting to take photographs in all aspects of their life, you can see that people will have further expectations to take photo’s while playing video games. It begs the question, can we expect this kind of rise in the future of game photography?

This is the ridiculous chart of the number of camera’s produced over the last 70ish years:

A chart of the number of cameras produced since 1947
Number of cameras produced since 1947 – credit Sven Skafisk

This is the same chart with the top range cut off:

A chart of the number of cameras (sans smartphones) produced since 1947
A chart of the number of cameras (sans smartphones) produced since 1947 – credit petapixel.com

Here is the chart of the number of games with dedicated photo modes included. Not quite as impressive as the charts above, but still has an upward trend.

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)

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

VR and AR have been touted as the next big things in games and technology. This has been slower to move into mainstream than people first predicted, but is still an emerging technology with immense potential. Touchscreens were available in mobile devices long before the iPhone, but the iPhone was the game changer . The same thing could happen with VR and AR (or maybe something in-between these?), that will put this technology in the hands of the masses.

As people are immersed in VR and AR they could also expect to take photos in the world they are experiencing. In the future of game photography this could be a 360 photo, a Polaroid or a traditional photo, or the person may be able to make that choice. Taking a photo in this VR / AR experience, and then sharing it outside that experience could be the link between the worlds. Today we take a photo on holiday and show that experience to people who aren’t there, maybe it will continue as part of the future of game photography.

Imagine taking a selfie in VR / AR. Horrible? Awesome? Inevitable.

VR Selfie
VR Selfie

The hurdles to be overcome

Photography in gaming has a few hurdles to overcome in the near future. One of the most pressing is copyright and ownership of content. Who owns the glorious game photo you just took? Can you sell it? Can you print it on a t-shirt?

I think the question of “Is Game Photography art?” has been answered 1000 times “Yes”. Now it only gets brought up because the people saying “No” are getting a reaction from others. Passionate, positive and engaged people doing something they love, and being told what they do is worthless. Good way to get a reaction, if you are an arsehole.

Is it art?
Is it art?

Another hurdle is how game photographers can ever build a career out of what they love doing? The path of photographers is to take contracts to find amazing scenes or animal shots for high paying customers wanting something unique. Or posting photos on something like shutterstock. Or working for companies that make a living off having amazing pictures. These could definitely be paths for professional game photographers, and maybe others that haven’t been traditional photography paths.

Future of Game Photography

Photo mode as we know it has taken the concept of photography from the real world and applied it to games. In the future, we should start to see some crazy photographic options available in photo mode that are either very hard or can’t be done in real life. We should also see some real life photography choices coming to photo mode as well. Some initial thoughts:

  • Add a source of light wherever you want
  • Choose a particular thing to focus on, rather than how far away something is
  • Choose which part of the photo to base the brightness on
  • Characters doing flips
  • Moving the characters (thinking sitting them on top of a really tall tree?)
  • Time lapse shots
  • Time lapse backwards?
  • 360 photos (some already have this)
  • Adding in your avatar? May be a bit cheesy but you never know.
  • Little world or kaleidoscope
  • Let me know your thoughts on anything else you are interested in seeing in photo mode!

People wanting to capture even more of their lives in pictures and videos will inevitably leak into games. The number of games with dedicated photo modes is rising, as is the quality of these photo modes. The community behind game photography is passionate, active and more connected than when traditional photography become an art form.

The future of game photography seems bright indeed.

Robbie
the authorRobbie

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