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What is video game photography and why should Nintendo embrace it?

    video game photography - Nintendo

    Imagine traveling across the colorful vistas of Mushroom Kingdom or of the other numerous kingdoms within Mario’s epic journey in Super Mario Odyssey and thinking to yourself, ‘I want to capture this moment.’ In fact, not only do you want to take a quick snap with the Switch’s featured button, but you also want to take a creative angle with this and manipulate the color saturation, scan the 3D space for better artistic angles, and add different effects to give the photo your own personal touch. You may not have had these thoughts. But if you have, you have likely been consumed by a burgeoning trend within gaming called “video game photography.”

    In the past couple of years, epic AAA games for the other consoles — such as Sony’s own first-party exclusives — are including photo modes within their games. Granted, games for these consoles typically have a higher graphical standard than what we expect to see on Nintendo’s platform. So, it becomes enthralling to capture beautifully crafted landscapes, insane character poses or action sequences, and a multitude of other aspects within video games.

    A picture is worth a thousand words

    But it doesn’t stop at simply taking a screen capture. Tools within these photo modes have become extensive, and it’s quite clear as to why that is. Developers know how popular this mode has become and the free promotion it will offer them as players share their own pieces of art from the games they play across social media. Many who have tapped into this killer marketing strategy get the ball rolling by creating video game photography contests for their own games.


    Nintendo should really take notice of this new trend. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Mario Odyssey offer a photo mode of sorts, but many other games within the company’s library could benefit from these capabilities. Yes, I believe firmly that people love Nintendo characters enough for this to catch fire. Nintendo could implement a tool within the system’s operating system to manipulate photos already taken. But they most certainly should start including in-game opportunities to take unique screenshots from different angles while providing a litany of effects and toggles to apply to the pictures. Yoshi’s Crafted World is already an artistic endeavor — imagine the possible photos that could come from fans of that game.

    Art begets art

    The benefits of adding “photo” capture and editing features within Nintendo games far outweigh the cost of including the simple feature. Furthermore, it drastically adds value to players’ experiences with the games. Video game photography allows gamers to participate, in a small degree, in the artistry of these projects. It’s just one more way of connecting fans with the products and allowing them to relish the experiences created by groups like Nintendo.

    I recently finished Days Gone on my PS4 Pro and was flipping through the multitude of photos I had taken and altered. Then I began to flip back through other games that have released in the last year where I had captured my experiences from my unique perspective. Instantly, I became nostalgic for games I had literally just played within the last several months. I found myself smiling wide as I thought of those wild journeys I had taken.

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    Battling the devastating Valkyries in God of War wasn’t something I wanted to escape my photo library. Watching the sunset on the hot gates of Thermopylae in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was so serene and an extraordinary virtual setting to behold. Taking a selfie as Spider-Man everywhere I went within New York City and freezing time during some of the most earth-shattering battles Spidey endured was all I could think of doing as I admired Insomniac’s work across 30+ hours of gameplay. Here are a few of my personal favorites from my digital photo album.

    Video games are art – plain and simple. If games have the power to help recreate the majestic designs of the Notre Dame cathedral, then they certainly have the power to inspire creativity within others. You may not realize it, but when you look at a screenshot from a game, more times than not there is a story being told on a conscious or sub-conscious level. Dark themes surrounding monsters and demons evoke fear, while photos of characters amid the throes of combat cultivate the feelings of adrenaline and aggression. When I see a sprawling landscape, I typically feel a sense of adventure that makes me want to experience games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Skyrim.

    I see a constant and steady stream of video game photographs on social media, with a personal spin on each and every one. At times, players capture something absolutely hilarious. And at other times, they capture a character portrait depicting the sensation of life behind the eyes of that character.

    Video game photography and Nintendo

    Nintendo has the unique position of owning some of the most cherished worlds and characters in gaming. And while Nintendo’s console might have limitations, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Mario Odyssey show that this idea can be accomplished. Video game photography offers players a chance to not only receive enjoyment through playing the game but also through admiring the craft and handiwork of the game’s developers. It also lights a creative spark in all of us, which is something that spans generations both young and old.

    I truly take pleasure in capturing my own gaming experiences and accenting them with a few effects and personal touches. Hopefully, Nintendo sees the opportunity they have to really saturate the market with their work while creating new chances for gamers to share their adventures and memories through the tools of video game photography.

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