From Pokémon Snap to Fatal Frame, photography has long been popular in games – but some developers are taking the idea further
People love to take pictures in video games. As the game worlds we explore have become more beautiful, players have become more interested in photographing them and sharing the results. It is almost standard for open-world games in particular to include photo modes, which allow players to mimic real-world photographers by adjusting the framing, brightness and exposure. Selfie modes, meanwhile, let you add filters and change characters’ facial expressions, from Link in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker to Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2. There is even an augmented-reality photo mode in Pokémon Go, which lets players take posed photos of digital Pokémon in the real world.
Some games take it a step further, incorporating photography as an interaction within the game. One of the earliest examples is Gekibo: Gekisha Boy, a 1992 Japanese game that almost made it to Europe a decade later as Polaroid Pete, before its release was cancelled. It plays like a side-scrolling shooter but with a camera for a gun. The cartoonish subjects users can photograph include extraterrestrials, racist caricatures and women in various states of undress.