Mobile Games Deserve a Photo Mode Too

Does anyone remember Snake? One of the first, or even THE first, mobile game. Where you played as a snake that kept growing longer and longer as you ‘ate’ dots on the screen and you died if you hit yourself. I remember it, because I’m old. In fact, I remember not having a mobile phone and only wanting one when a couple of friends got a Nokia and played Snake and txted each other – that was pretty much all you could do on phones back then, oh and of course use it like an actual phone and ring the parents for a lift home.

Fast forward many years, and I don’t often play mobile games anymore. I went through a very short phase of playing a few, but that was years ago and I can’t even remember half the games I did play. Nowadays I mostly use my iPhone for social media and productivity apps, and as a timer for my kitchen cooking times.

The mobile market is a serious market to be in though, as the below stats show (taken from UKie, webpage linked below), 47% of those in the UK who own a smartphone use their phone to play games on;

There are 1,483 active games companies making mobile games in the UK (as of August 2017). (UK Games Map)

The UK has the largest mobile games workforce in the EU, with 5,000 full-time employees.  This represents nearly a quarter of all 21,000 mobile game jobs across the EU. (Deloitte and ISFE)

71% of UK adults (approx 40m) own a smartphone and 59% of UK households (approx 15.9m) own a tablet. (Ofcom, Q1 2016)

47% of UK smartphone owners use apps on their phones to play games – more that use apps for online banking (40%) or reading the news (33%).

The UK mobile market is very evenly represented between the genders, with a 48% female / 52% male split between those who are playing more than once a month.

(All the above stats was taken from this UKie site – it has much more information regarding the UK gaming environment so I would say go and take a look!)

That’s a lot of people who could be taking mobile-gametography pictures.

A few months back a game caught my attention from others within the gametography community called Tap Tap Fish – AbyssRium; which is basically a really really addictive game, and is actually (on the App Store preview page) advertised as a game to relax by. It’s true actually, watching your fishes swim around is quite relaxing, you don’t have to pay anything but of course you can if you want to with In App Purchases. As the name suggests there is also a lot of tapping needed, to level up etc, but that is also quite relaxing.

What struck me though, is that the game has a photo mode.

NOW, before I go any further, I probably should state what my definition of ‘photo mode’ is, and what the difference is from just taking a screen shot;

  • To me a photo mode is an option within the game that allows you to manipulate the game camera, usually when the game is paused, and then take a picture that will be saved.  More sophisticated photo mode’s will have other options available, such as filters or depth of field.
  • A screen shot or screen capture is when you do not have this option and you ‘screen shot’ to get the picture; so clicking the share button, for example on PS4, at the right moment or time which takes a copy of the screen. I have no issue with this, I’ve done this plenty of times myself when the game has not got a photo mode option or during cutscenes.

So photo mode’s don’t have to be really complex. For mobile games, having numerous options probably will not be a viable option anyways, but as Tap Tap Fish shows, having a simple pause option to be able to take a picture of your aquarium is possible, and fun.

This was, I’m pretty sure, the first time I have personally seen a photo mode within a mobile game. I’m guessing this wont have been the very first mobile game to do this but, surprise surprise, it got me thinking about how this should be more present within mobile games and how many mobile games I’ve missed that I could be taking some pictures in.

Here’s how it works for Tap Tap Fish;

A: tap on the camera icon at the bottom
B: find a fish you would like to take a picture of, the ‘effect’ makes the background blurry or not if you don’t want it, then tap the camera button again
C: you have the option to upload it to your Twitter or Instagram or save it
D: it shows you a preview of the picture
E: the message tells you that it has saved the picture in your gallery if you chose save. I have never uploaded to social media accounts (and never plan to).

It doesn’t pause the game when you are in the first photo mode screen but when you hit the middle camera button again it will pause the swimming and you can move the camera about a bit. As you can see you can upload your pictures to social media and I believe if you do that so many times a week, or something, you get some in-game prizes; free promotion here being a win-win between the players and the game makers.

So what other mobile games have a photo mode then?

I’m not actually sure. Googling it didn’t really bring up any results, which doesn’t really surprise me.

HOWEVER  I did find another game that has a photo mode! Really randomly I was looking in the App Store and stumbled upon Alto’s Odyssey – which is a mobile game I had heard of before, but had no idea had a photo mode until I saw an article about it. If you search for the game, go into the details about it you can find the article at the bottom;


Serendipity, as I beginning to worry I wouldn’t have another example to talk about for this post, but I kept going back to this game as it looked pretty.

The game look gorgeous, so I bought it. You basically control a little snowboarder, and you have to avoid rocks and fire pits and can do some flips to get extra points. Like with Tap Tap Fish it is addictive, especially in Zen mode where you just continuously play. You can also access the photo mode in the normal game mode.

And here is what the photo mode looks like:

A: tap the pause button, bottom left hand corner, while playing this brings you to the photo mode screen
B: you can move the camera about a bit
C: you can also zoom in and out too
D: you get a preview of the picture
E: then it tells you it has saved it, again you have a share option but I will never do that via the game

I love the look of games like this, it actually reminds me of the game Journey too. Alto’s Odyssey is actually the second game in the Alto series, the first being Alto’s Adventure and I am trying to work out if that game has the photo mode option (if I’m being really honest, being both priced at £4.99 I just can’t afford to pay for both) but it looks like it didn’t (someone please tell me otherwise if I am wrong!).

Here are some pics I’ve taken in the game (none of these are edited, they are straight from the game. The pictures were taken in Zen mode.):

Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey
Alto’s Odyssey


Lasts thoughts…

Given the stats above, mobile gaming is huge, with more people playing games on their phone than other activities, such as streaming music and video and banking (UKie). It’s a shame then that more mobile games don’t have a photo mode. Some may think ‘what’s the point in a mobile game having a photo mode?’ and that’s fair enough. But why not, there are many absolutely stunning mobile games out there, and of course you can do the screen shot option of hitting the side and home buttons at the same time, but that’s so awkward. Having a dedicated simple photo mode as a feature would be great and considering both games used as the examples in this article had a ‘share’ button within the photo mode it seems like it would be a great way in which to promote the game, indeed Tap Tap Fish has a Best Photo of the Week exhibition, to enter you need to share your picture with their hashtag;


A great way of advertising while encouraging fun. I feel like the photo mode movement is gaining popularity within the console gaming field, so perhaps the mobile gaming community is on the same path; like I said I’m not actually sure how many mobile games are out there with a photo mode option, but I would hazard a guess at ‘not many’. At the moment anyways, and with critically acclaimed games such as Alto’s Odyssey bringing in the option, other gaming devs might now be thinking of doing the same; which would be amazing.

As I said, I don’t play a lot of mobile games, so are there any more that have a photo mode? Let me know. Are there more than I think there are? Perhaps, just like with console games, it is becoming more popular within the field and we shall see more and more mobile games have a simple photo mode option.

NEXT WEEK: I think I am going to stay on the mobile trend and talk about mobile apps that can be used to edit photos…

Thanks for reading!

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