Following the Green Light

Designing Inclusion in Game Distribution

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Though personal computers have become more affordable and ubiquitous in the past 30 years, deeming this as a “natural evolution” that lead to an increased technological literacy in America would be simplistic and technologically deterministic, and overlooks the organized efforts performed by companies to expand the use of these technologies to begin with. Steam, for example, had some adoption obstacles in the beginning: unveiled at the 2002 Game Developers Conference and released a year later, the distribution platform was reportedly buggy and unfriendly towards users. 2 years later, though, the video game giant that owns Steam, Valve, decided to release all of its games for PC asking for a compulsory installation of Steam in order to play. Coincidentally, in 2004 one of Valve’s biggest games was released: Half-Life 2, now an industry staple that cost $40 million to make, sold more than 1.7 million copies worldwide. Continue Reading

Playing the Photographer

in The Last of Us Remastered: a New Frontier of Digital Photography?

Essay - Playing the Photographer

In-game screenshots are by no means a new phenomenon; publishers have long used the techniques of live-action photography to capture scenes of their video games for use as advertising materials. So too have gamers had the opportunity to take screenshots during play for later reflection and sharing. The photo editor mode in TLOUR is unique in that it does not require technological literacy, such as modding or coding, to operate this feature. A player does not need specialized skills beyond the ability to play the game in order to take photos. This democratization of game photography may be another commercial impetus, a means of Naughty Dog to get more people creating promotional content for their game, but it also enables a new means of play and self-expression. Continue Reading

“Press A to Shoot”

Pokémon Snap-Shots and Gamespace Ownership

Essay - Pokemon Snap

Drawing from the international popularity of the Pokémon series, Snap repositions gameplay from the role-playing mechanics of earlier games. Due to its in-game mechanics and integrative real-world mechanisms, Snap shifts the definitions of digital subjects and photographers, illustrating the complex relationship of subject and shooter in digital photographic practices. Ultimately, the practices portrayed in Snap prove to be deeply imbalanced experiences in terms of power dynamics, complicated by the popularity of the Pokémon series which encouraged players to “catch ‘em all.” These competitive practices extended beyond digital spaces with the intersections of print and digital photography and the gamification of photographic practices as taught and presented by the game. Continue Reading