OPINION: The Rise of Photo Mode
People love taking pictures. This has generally been true of everyone for as long as pictures have been around. If you don’t like taking pictures or being in them, then chances are you still probably at least enjoy looking at either well shot or just visually appealing images. There’s a reason there’s a type of photography for basically everything you can think of. We want to capture the moment, especially in an awesome or visually satisfying way. Video games are as popular and interconnected as ever, and we want to capture and share that experience as well. Over the last few years this has led to an increase in digital/video game photography and the rise of photo mode in gaming.
Now with the press of a button gamers can easily archive or share whatever they’re playing. To further expand on this feature a lot of game developers are now adding in fleshed out “photo modes” which allows players to pause the game, and alter the image on screen in a variety of ways to capture the perfect screenshot. The amount of features in a game’s photo mode varies from title to title, but tools range from being able to adjust the field of view, tilt, camera positioning, zoom, focus, blur, add and adjust filters, add stickers, change facial expressions on character models, delete characters models, and more. Different developers have gone to different lengths in terms of customization and freedom in photo mode and it’s really fun to see what teams come up with.
Video games look absolutely stunning now, with the ability to create vibrant and lush otherwordly environments, to breathtakingly detailed renditions of modern or ancient cities. Having a mode that give players the ability to pause and manipulate the camera to fully explore these worlds creates an entirely new and endlessly engaging experience. I’ve spent hours upon hours just in photo mode exploring the world or working to get that perfect shot. When the surroundings mix with some of the in-game action these games thrive on there’s also the possibility for some truly unbelievable moments to be captured. Games like God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4, Spider-Man, and Arkham Knight all offer their own amazing and unique settings that provide plenty to capture just on the surface level. Then you can really lose yourself spending hours working to get the action shot you’ve got perfectly planned out.
Photo mode works with both open world and more linear games differently, but overall lends itself to single player experiences were developers have spent countless hours creating these really lived in worlds. These worlds become so atmospheric and allow you to really escape in them. These games are often also very narratively driven and offer an extremely cinematic experience. Throw in the ability to actually be an active part in this experience by playing the game in the first place, and then take it a step further with the option to enjoy the game from another creative level by capturing your own photography in it, and it becomes an incredibly rewarding activity.
There are an endless amount of possibilities when it comes to photo mode in gaming. From landscape and environmental shots to portraits taken of character models, a players imagination is the limit. More and more games releasing seem to be including a photo mode, and I hope it’s on it’s way to becoming an industry standard, at least for single player games. Video games offer an escape into an infinite number of worlds, and photo mode opens the door to another level of this escapism and creativity that has only just started to flourish.