In Endless Ocean Blue World (Arika, 2009) you play a diver who can take photo assignments for magazines. Pictures of rare fish and other animals are rated from clients. The camera simulation allows to zoom and to change F-stops.
Players’ discussion on how to achieve an A-rating within the game: https://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/954373-endless-ocean-blue-world/54367209
In Shoot the Bullet, unlike other shoot ’em ups, the player cannot shoot projectiles at enemies; instead, Aya, the main character, must shoot photographs to clear the screen of bullets and take down bosses (hence “Shoot” the Bullet). Scores are determined by the aesthetics of each photograph taken, such as colours and bullet density, and the risk taken to take these photos. For each “scene”, Aya is only given one life to complete the objective — to take a certain number of pictures of the boss without being hit in a limited amount of time.
To take pictures, the film must be fully loaded into the camera (100%). The player can move at three speeds, the normal speed, the focused speed, and a super-focused speed which also allows for high speed film loading. When taking pictures, the player can hold the shoot button to control the viewfinder while the picture frame shrinks — this can be used to zoom in on the boss. During this time, all bullets on screen are slowed down and Aya cannot move. If the shoot button is held for too long, the film will get overexposed and Aya would have to reload the film. The player can also press the shoot button once without holding to take a snapshot around Aya. For every picture taken, Aya will need to reload the film from 0% again before she can take another picture. Only photos that contain an image of the boss (“Success” pictures) will be taken into account when tallying up the score.
Double spoiler is the sequel of Shoot the Bullet. It inherits all the mechanics from its predecessor, but adds camera orientations modes.
New to Double Spoiler over Shoot the Bullet is the option to change the orientation of the shot between landscape to portrait. The angle of the shot is automatically adjusted depending on where the player is in relation to the boss.
Game Underwater Photography is a free web-game where the player is an underwater photographer. Simple camera simulation allows the player to frame and shoot. Pictures are evaluated based on centering of the target and multiple fishes within the frame.
“Press A to Shoot, Pokémon Snap – Shots and gamespace ownership” by Alexandra Orlando and Betsy Brey is an essay that focuses on the game mechanics of Pokémon Snap and the politics of in-game photography.
They draw a parallel between photographs and games as being both models, or “photographic referents” in Barthes’ terms:
games are models of experiences—not just depictions or descriptions (Bogost 4). The same can be said of photographs, which are also not representations of themselves, but instead, models of what they reveal.
The authors also trace a similarity between Susan Sontag’s “view of reality as an exotic prize to be tracked down and captured” by the photographer and the in-game world as a constantly reshaped environment, manipulated by the player. [personal note: to an extent this idea of Sontag’s photographer-hunter reveals (on top from the obvious political implications that made her work “On Photography” one of the most influential writings in photography theory) a gameplay element within photography, before there was even the possiblity to “gamify” its mechanics digitally.]
One interesting analysis of Pokémon Snap’s gamification of photography is the points-based system the game uses to distinguished a good photo from a bad one:
Each photo is judged on a few main qualities: size of subject, pose of subject, and technique of the shot. Additional bonuses are added to the score if there are multiple subjects in the photo, or if the player has performed certain events on a course that lead to special or unique poses (for example, getting a Pokémon to stand on a surfboard or sing in a group). The game privileges shots in which the subject’s size takes up about a third of the frame, the subject is in the centre of the frame, and is facing the camera. Some poses are encouraged over others, such as dancing with or attacking other Pokémon, but for the most part, all that is emphasized is that the Pokémon should not be facing away from the camera.
This leads to what Orlando and Brey call a “photographic colonialism”:
The fact that Snap gamifies basic photography skills and teaches its players how to create a single kind of photographic image indicates a single acceptable or desirable kind of photography. Not only does it teach just one style, but it also discourages learning others in the game space. This can be viewed as a kind of photographic colonialism—the limitation to a single viewpoint at the expense and extinction of others by a controlling power outside of the immediate environment. Snap disallows a variety of voices within its gameplay and photographic requirements, separating itself from photographic arts[…]
A selection of videogames that attempt to incorporate photography (or better “photographing”) as game mechanics to a certain degree.
Polaroid Pete (Gekisha Boy Gekibo)
Gekibo: Gekisha Boy – screenshot of the 1992 PC game version
Gekibo: Gekisha Boy – screenshot from the 1992 PC game version
In this PC game from 1992 (ported to PS2 in 2002, and with a a sequel titled Gekisha Boy 2 released for PS2 in 2001), photography plays a big role in both story and game mechanics. This makingGekisha Boy one of the earliest examples of videogames to incorporate a camera and the act of taking pictures as core game mechanic. In each level the main character has to take snapshots of events happening around him, with points being assigned according to the player’s ability to catch the “decisive moment”.
In this series, the game takes inspiration from the Victorian born art of ‘Spirit Photography’. It lets the player capture images of spirits through a Camera Obscura, while exploring abandoned ruins and fend off hostile ghosts.
the main character of Dead Rising is a photo journalist, Frank West, who has to survive a zombie-infested environment while documenting the events with his camera. Shots taken with the in-game camera are evaluated (genre of the photos is analysed, e.g. brutality, drama, …) and rewarded through a point system.
Spiderman 3 lets you play as Peter Parker, and in some missions you are required to get pictures for the Daily Bugle. A basic camera interface allows you to zoom and frame an image before taking the shot. Pictures are given points (photo score).
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
in an easter egg within Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the player is transported to a white environment where it is possible to take pictures of the female character, posing as if in some sort of weird erotic photo shoot.
Grand Theft Auto V
in GTA V, there are a number of missions where you work with/for a paparazzi photographer and you have to take pictures with a DSLR or with your in-game smartphone camera.
Camera Sim 3D
Camera Sim 3D is a DSLR simulator, developed with the purpose of teaching the basics of photography and how to operate a DSLR camera. It is still in production at the time of writing, but a live demo is available online.
the original article included “Life Is Strange” as one of the games about photography, but it was not featured in our list because the mechanics for taking a picture in the game offer very little control or similarity with the act of photographing (no possibility of framing, zooming, focusing).
Some video games have attempted to incorporate ‘photographing’ as core parts of the game mechanics. These have sometimes an educational feel, often including rating algorithms that analyse the composition of the game-photograph.
National Geographic’s Afrika is a simulation game that make you “become a photojournalist in the wilderness of Africa[…]. Africa’s wildlife is rendered in accurate photorealistic detail. As a photographer, you’ll use licensed, real-world photography equipment to complete assignments and capture images of everything from bathing hippos to a cheetah on the hunt. Explore the land, find new animals, and earn a name for yourself as a professional photographer.”
More than 70 animals to find and more than 100 missions to complete
Animals behave and interact with each other just like their real-world counterparts
Explore environments ranging from grassland to marsh to forest
Innovative photo grading system teaches you the skills of a professional photographer
Originally published for the Nintendo 64, in Pokémon Snap you have to take pictures of pokémons and then you submit a selection of your photos to prof. Oak, who will review them and grade them. Your photographs will be rated based on ‘technique’, ‘size’ and ‘pose’ and number of pokémon photographed (e.g. you will score higher if the pokèmon you portrayed was facing the camera).