Dr. Livingston in No Man’s Sky

The effect of researching interactive media

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Since its inception, the camera has captured and confounded us. The introduction of recording devices ranging from the phonograph to the photograph marked an astounding technological achievement: we could now collect moments in time. Relatively recently, this affordance has been extended to our gaming experiences. Consoles have incorporated screenshot functions into their operating systems, like the PlayStation 4’s dedicated “SHARE” button for recording and sharing gameplay. More dynamic “photo mode” features are creeping into many of the most visually compelling games as of late, such as Shadow of Mordor, Grand Theft Auto IV and V, Uncharted 4, and Batman: Arkham Knight. 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