Davit Ruitz – “I’m a Landscape Photographer”
Davit Ruitz – “I’m a Landscape Photographer”
“Point and Shoot, Remediating Photography in Gamespace” is a 2007 essay by Cindy Poremba. Here the author looks at the phenomenon of screenshots photograph of digital games and their relationship with photography. The virtualisation of photography, she claims, remediates many aspects of traditional photography.
Considering the time of the essay and its scope and content, this can be seen as a defining and pioneering writing for the discourse of in-game photography.
If the process and ritual behind this image making is similar, the players themselves are validating the reality of their subjects simply by creating a document of these experiences. In this sense, players are taking real photos, just in virtual spaces.
Although game photos remain a representation (through remediation) of the technique of representation, photography nonetheless carves out a space for itself within play, bringing new practice to the digital game.
originally published in: Games and Culture, Volume 2 Number 1, January 2007 49-58 © 2007 Sage Publications 10.1177/1555412006295397
In an essay part of Martin Lister’s The Photographic Image in Digital Culture (2nd ed., 2014), Seth Giddings looks at Videogame photography and argues that while light is absent from this kind of photography, yet other aspects persist.
Images taken in them may not be written with light, but in their conventions, their uses, effects and affects, they function, and are understood as, photographs of the virtual.
In-game photography, he states, is not a completely new medium but also not just an unqualified remediation of photography.
If we pay attention to what the residues of photography and photographic practices facilitate in the new milieu of the virtual gameworld and the digital network, we might see new quite different media technocultural individuals emerging. Not remediated, not rupture per se, but an evolution, a mutation – as it ever was.
A draft of the paper is available on line here: http://badnewthings.co.uk/papers/drawing%20without%20light.pdf
Snapimals is a 2015 photography game for smartphones and tablets (iOS and Android). Its gameplay consists of taking pictures of animals in the wild. The player is not free to move (advancing on a steady motion on a path), but is allowed to orbit the camera in order to frame the photo. Pictures are evaluated by size, spot and angle parameters. It reminds Pokemon Snap in many ways, both in game mechanics and content.
Google Play Store link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bebopbee.snapimals&hl=en
“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[…]
read the full essay here: http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/press-a-to-shoot/
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.”
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).
Beyond Good and Evil
A platform adventure game where you play as a photographer.