If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then having a photo mode in high budget video game titles nowadays is absolutely indispensable. With games looking the way they do, oftentimes as beautiful or even more beautiful than our very own world, players want to be able to capture moments in their gameplay experiences to put on display on their personal networks or to cherish for themselves at a later time.
Indeed, photo mode is a feature that’s quickly catching fire in the industry, with many top tier developers implementing the system in their latest blockbuster hits. Yet still more need to jump aboard.
From a marketing perspective, the potential of user-generated content is great in almost any field, and such is especially true in the case of a medium as visually dependent as gaming. Allowing players the ability to capture moments onscreen and then share them across their personal channels through photo mode is free and easy promotion for a game, a cost-efficient measure that publishers may want to keep their eyes on.
In terms of publicity, if gamers are sharing screenshots of breathtaking virtual vistas or awesome boss fights, potential customers will notice and want to jump in on the experience, too. If anything, the technical prowess of a developer will be on full display – a huge win for creators when the time comes to pitch future projects.
Photo mode also opens up an additional means of communication between a developer and their audience. A recent example that comes to mind is when one Horizon Zero Dawn fan spotted an abnormality in how protagonist Aloy’s hand was positioned when climbing a railing. Guerrilla Games took notice, fixed the hitch and through this (although it was only a small improvement) showed that it cares very much for its game and listens closely to its fans.
Aside from fiscal and larger, more corporate motivation comes emotional incentive too. Games are much more human than they were decades ago. It’s not uncommon for them to move you through powerful narrative experiences or lofty imaginative worlds. To be able to capture those moments and savor them for posterity is important.
When you think about some of the highlights of your own life, there’s almost certainly some photo or image that comes to mind. Just because games are fictional doesn’t mean they can’t stay in our hearts and minds for a long time.
One of the highlights of photography in real life is being able to share the moments you’ve cherished with the people closest to you, exchanging ideas and adventures and opening our horizons to what may very well be in store for us soon, too. That human connection is still there in the digital age, and photo mode allows us to perpetuate that innate behavior.
Regardless of your opinion of the medium, video games are here to stay and will only become more integrated with our global culture going forward. To say that photos from moments we’ve played in video games could sit alongside childhood memories isn’t a stretch, but rather an inevitability.
In the case that gaming won’t be around forever, though, we should still try to take the best pictures while it’s here.