As with any hobby or profession there are going to be some issues and challenges that can build barriers or make it difficult to do said hobby, and this is the same for gametography. As annoying as they are, the listed challenges shouldn’t completely stop you from partaking in some gametography, but they do highlight some issues that do/can crop up; such as the fact that there is no one standard photo mode or that unfortunately you might find that someone else has taken credit for a photo you have taken.
Let’s start with the fact that no photo mode is the same shall we…
#1: No Photo Mode is the Same
There is no set standard for the photo mode. You could argue that there shouldn’t be, no game is the same so why should the photo mode be? I get that. And I also understand that smaller studios might not be able to add a really sophisticated photo mode with all the options. But I do feel that there should be some options that need to be added, such a a good depth of field option and at least a 90 degree screen roll (for the vertical shots).
It also becomes an issue when the reset button is different – so on one game it would be the triangle and for another the square. The amount of times I’ve set up a shot, spent tens of minutes (lol) getting the depth of field just right….only to hit the wrong button and totally reset back to default. So annoying. Even how you open the photo mode option is different, most you have to go into the pause menu. I personally like how Assassin’s Creed: Origins does it, by clicking the L3 and R3 at the same time. It feels a bit less like you are exiting the game, if that makes sense.
There’s no real solution to this, just something to keep in mind – ALWAYS check what button the reset is – and the below video highlights just a handful of photo modes [Everspace then No Man’s SKy then Assassin’s Creed: Origins then Horizon Zero Dawn] and just how different they can be…
I think Assassin’s Creed Origins for some reason is my favourite photo mode, I actually really like how they did the depth of field option, although Horizon Zero Dawn has really cool options like changing Aloy’s facial expression. Then you have No Man’s Sky which lets you move the sun wherever you want it! Lastly, Everspace being the most simple, with literally a few options – zoom in and out, changing the camera and toggling the Everspace logo – but still letting you take great pictures.
#2: The Legal Stuff
I don’t want to go too deep about legal stuff here, I’m thinking I might do a longer post about this a bit later on so that I can spend more time looking into it, but obviously there has to be some mention about this.
While it isn’t illegal to take in-game photos (or screenshots) of a game, they wouldn’t put in photo mode’s if it was, there are questions about who owns the picture and there could be something said about using these pictures and making money off them, by selling prints for example. Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws are there for a reason, and the game ultimately belongs to the people who make them. It seems to be a bit of a grey area, especially since with editing tools you can be really creative.
I found this on the Playstation website, the Legal section under Software Usage Terms:
11. Creating and Sharing Online
11.1. UGM created and shared by you belong to you but we and, where applicable, the relevant Software publisher still have intellectual property rights in your UGM so you must not commercially exploit UGM without our consent and the consent of the Software publisher. (found via this link here.)
If I am understanding this right, and I might not be, it sounds like UGM (user generated material) which I guess would include material such as in-game photos (?), means you do have some ownership of what you create but there is a but, there always is. The ‘but’ being the fact that you basically cannot make money from it. Which is fair I think.
At the end of the day, if it feels wrong to do, then it most likely is something you might want to rethink. You can always check the legal terms or service, or even email the game studio to double check if you want further clarification.
#3: Plagiarism and Outright Copying
In the same line of what was discussed above, this is a real unfortunate factor; that of plagiarism or not giving credit, and one that is rife throughout social media and the art/photography community on the whole. I feel so mad when I see the ‘someone has stolen my art and is taking credit for it’ posts, not towards the person posting, obviously, but towards the person doing the stealing. Because it is just that; stealing. Even for gametography, where the lines about who owns what might be blurred, it still isn’t nice when someone has taken credit for a photograph they did not take.
Just like traditional photography there are a few things you can do, but I don’t think there is ever going to be a 100% way of being able to stop someone from saving a picture to their phone and reposting as one of their own. Not unless you do what stock photo sites do if you have not paid/are not a member and put big writing and/or lines across the picture; which obviously doesn’t look great.
You can add watermarks and there are going to be a load of websites and mobile apps that will make it easy for you to add a custom watermark to your photos. At the moment I don’t actually do this, but it is something I should maybe start doing or at least start thinking about. I still don’t think that watermarks can completely stop someone from taking your photo, if it’s in a corner you can just crop it out after all, but it might make someone think twice before doing it.
Otherwise, I guess it’s just a case that you need to be prepared for it perhaps happening to you one day. Chances are you might not even find out, which is not good, but if you do I would start by just maybe commenting that you are the original owner of the picture, and could they please credit your work (by ‘@ing’ your account to the description). Hopefully this will make the person think twice before doing it again if they get caught out. If they ignore you, you could go down the route of reporting them, but that would have to be your choice as to whether or not it would be worth it. Again, because this has yet to happen to me I’ve never had to do this, but I’ve heard various stories about how doing this has turned out.
It’s frustrating, but I firmly believe in karma, so just keep producing great gametography pictures and the other person will get what they deserve in the end.
#4: Being Distracted from the Actual Game Itself
Gametography is distracting. I cannot lie about this fact.
This is especially true when playing a new game for the first time.
This happened with God of War. When the game was released it did not have photo mode. And there were many people who were either on the side of; I’m going to wait until it has a photo mode to get/play the game, OR on the other side; I’m going to play through it once now, before the photo mode is patched so I don’t get distracted. I was the former, but I definitely see the benefits of playing through a game first without stopping every two minutes to take a picture and just concentrate on the game.
I actually don’t think I could play a game now and not take pictures, whether it has a proper photo mode or not.
So this is a personal choice I guess. If you can be disciplined and not take pictures on the first play through then by all means do that. I just know I will never be disciplined enough to be able to do that.
#5: EXPLAINING GAMETOGRAPHY TO OTHERS!
My neck hurts.
This is because I have been taking a lot of vertical pictures (on No Man’s Sky) which means that you have to ‘roll’ the screen 90 degrees or so. This also means you have to crick your neck to be able to see what the picture looks like, and because I always turn the screen the same way (to the right) I always end up with my left ear on my shoulder, which kinda starts to ache after a little bit or if I repeatedly do it.
And if someone was to walk in while I was doing this…it’s going to look odd. Sometimes I even stand up if the glare on the screen is bad. They are going to wonder what on earth I am doing.
So when I tell people that I like to take in game photos I get a strange look (I think I prefer telling people what I’m doing for my PhD – and that’s saying something!). I guess I get this reaction more from non-gamers (which makes sense) but I also get this from gamers too.
I think what they instantly want to know is; “why?”
“What’s the point of taking pictures of games?” “Shouldn’t you be playing the game instead?” “Why don’t you just do normal photography?” “Games have photo modes?”
When you are talking to someone about hobbies you are bound to get some questions about it, as you would have questions about the whatever hobby the other person does. But lets be honest, it’s probably is a bit strange. Games are for playing, right. Well, yes. But with the development of beautiful graphics and the fact that more and more games are including a photo mode, it can be about more than just gaming; as I’ve said plenty of times in past posts. But many might not be able to see past the fact that it is a game that you are taking photographs of/in.
Some may argue that is it not photography at all. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. But many gametographer’s in the community have better answers to this than I do, such as using architectural photography as an example; the photographer hasn’t built/designed the building, the architect and the builders did, and so too did the coder code the game world.
Just be prepared for some strange looks when you tell them, and definitely be prepared to explain what gametography means. But that’s also when it gets fun, once I’ve gone through what gametography is, show them some pictures, that makes them interested and they may even tell you that they will now try taking their own photos when they game next. So win-win all round I guess.
All the above challenges have been issues that I have come across in some form of another, but it doesn’t stop me, or others, from gametography, and nor should they. They are just factors to keep in mind; I would like to explore more into the legal side of it at some point as that might be interesting.
There are, of course, many good things about gametography! These are just some points that I would like to highlight quickly now;
- It’s a growing community
- You can do it whenever you can game, and take traditional photos whenever you are outside! Best of both worlds!
- You can be as creative as you like
- You can take it as seriously as you like
I didn’t go into too much detail about the good points here because I feel like these are going to be points that I will be repeating a lot on this blog haha but it is sometimes good to have a look at the other side!
Here are some Aloy pictures I took while trying to do the video:
THANK YOU for reading this; if you can think of anymore challenges that I totally forgot about let me know!
NEXT WEEK: Case Study of A Great Photo Mode [or Two] – a more in depth look at a great photo mode, or perhaps a couple, and what makes them great.