“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
— Elliott Erwitt
It’s true, we all see things differently and we all game differently.
I’ve discussed my gaming journey in slightly more detail last week, over at this post here, but what about the other half of gametography; the ‘tography’ part. Well, I have always had an interest in photography, in fact I nearly did photography A-Level but never did and I will always kind of wonder what path my life would have gone down if I had…and so I was more of a passive actor in the sense of only using my iPhone to take a few pictures and posting these on Instagram
[EDIT: I used to take a lot of pictures of trees, I found it quite therapeutic to just go out walking and taking pictures of trees. My tree pictures got deleted but I may start another Instagram for real life photography at some point.]
and reading some photography articles, got some books/magazines out of the library etc. It’s only the last few years though that my interest in photography has slowly increased.
A big influence of this has been finding gametography, and so like last week I wanted to talk about why I like Gametography so much and dig a little deeper into this whole idea of mindful photography; and I take this wording from an article that I found ‘Seeing through new eyes: an experimental investigation of the benefits of photography.’ (See footnote 1 for full reference).
Fun fact; one of my first gametography (although I didn’t call it that then) pictures on Twitter was of course a picture of a tree from Destiny; see how I hadn’t even turned off the hud…but it was a start.
At first I didn’t post that much, you can see this Tweet was dated 2016, but around the last new year (2017 going into 2018) one of my resolutions was to start a blog, which I wanted to focus around gaming, and so I thought that I would do a kind of gaming journal and post my pictures.
Twitter was what I also decided to post my pictures on. As I posted more I wanted to follow others doing the same, so following hashtag trails I was lucky and found The Gametographers quite early on.
[Please go and visit their Twitter, and join the Discord chat! This is also where the word gametography first came into my life.]
It showed me that there were others out there who were taking gametography as a legitimate hobby, just like me. Just as importantly, gametography could be thought of as a branch of photography. Not forgetting the fun aspect of it, the social side of people with a similar interest coming together and talking with each other.
Finding other gametographers also showed me that if gamers game differently, gametographers gametography differently; but I would like to think that all we want to do as gametographers is to capture those special in-game moments.
“Photographers, be they professional or amateur, assess their environment for signs of beauty, meaning or value.” (Kurtz, 2015, p. 354), and I would add virtual alongside professional or amateur in this quote.
And boy, do games have plenty of signs of beauty, meaning and value, and finding these only adds to the experience (one of the four reasons why I think all games should have a photo mode). In fact, Kurtz’s (2015) whole article examines the potential benefits of photography; “I hypothesize that benefits result from a certain kind of photography, one in which people are using the camera as a tool to help them locate beauty and meaning in their everyday environments…In other words, mindful photography…” (Ibid, p. 354). I like this whole aspect of photography being mindful. And obviously I am extending this out to gametography. Many people play games for mental health reasons (including myself, and a topic that I shall be writing about in the future at some point) many people take photos for this reason too and so with gametography we have the interlinking of both.
“Results revealed that those who were taking photographs while looking for meaning and beauty found the activity more pleasant and absorbing and also reported significantly higher mood and higher levels of appreciation and motivation than those who were asked to take more neutral, informative photographs. In other words, the way a person engages in photography seems critical.” (Ibid, p. 357)
My last post talked about four benefits of gaming; these being, cognitive, motivational, emotional and social and I feel that gametography definitely brings out the emotional aspect of gaming, along with the social as talked about above. Personally, taking snapshots of these moments that I come across in a game is something that I want to remember and a picture allows for that. I can go back and look at a certain game and the pictures I have taken, and the memories of that game come back, and yes, the good or the bad memories. The more I do this, the more I want to take in-game photos. Of course there is the argument that taking photos distracts from what you are doing, but actually going into a game and being able to play it and take photos of the experience is what brings me back.
On the whole I actually think that most of the time gametographers are taking mindful pictures, but perhaps we just don’t think of them in such a way, they are just snapshots of moments in time. But they are moments that have meaning to us; whether they are landscapes or portraits or in the middle of action. Everyone is different after all.
This was just a short post on why I ‘gametography’. Gametography allows me a chance to be creative and I have learnt so much over the past six or seven months; seeing what other people do and how I have developed too. For example, at first I didn’t want to edit my pictures, and this was for various reasons, one being that I didn’t want to change the aesthetic of the game but also because I wasn’t so fully confident on using editing programs. I now use Adobe Lightroom, Classic and CC, and Photoshop (which of course is going to be a future blog post) and my confidence regarding my skills and what I want my pictures to look like has definitely grown. But it is not just style that I want to develop now, it is also the creativity and mindfulness that I want to concentrate on. Again, everyone is different and this is true for such a subjective hobby such as gametography, what one person likes another will not, but that’s what makes it interesting. I personally just want to try and feel that each picture I take has some meaning to it and I don’t mean some grand significance like they should all belong in The Louvre or anything (I’m not that narcissistic haha) or taking the fun out of gametography, but meaning to me, just something that I recognise when I look back at pictures and they tell me a story.
As always, thank you for reading this!
NEXT WEEK: The Challenges of Gametography – what they are and perhaps how to overcome them.
- Kurtz, J. (2015). Seeing through new eyes: an experimental investigation of the benefits of photography. Journal of Basic & Applied Science. 11, p. 354-358. Let me know if you would like a copy if you cannot find it!