BioShock Research Camera

First-person shooters: 21 games that cast players as photographers

The framing of gaming.

By Anthony John Agnello, Steve Heisler, Joe Keiser, Gus Mastrapa, Samantha Nelson, John Teti, and Drew Toal • April 3, 2012

1. BioShock

The desire to take screenshots is as old as video games. It’s the urge to create something permanent and static from an art form that’s often ephemeral and kinetic. And while there’s an admirable lo-fi quality to the old “take a Polaroid of yourself next to the high-score screen” method, a number of games have gone a step further and woven photography into the play itself. BioShock does so by way of the Research Camera, a box camera that resembles Kodak’s classic Brownie Hawkeye model. While your snapshots are ostensibly intended for research on the violent denizens of BioShock’s underwater dystopia, the game’s scoring system betrays the real aim: to capture cheap thrills, obviously. Take a picture of a genetically mangled Splicer after you’ve laid him to waste, and you’ll never get anything better than a “C” grade for your efforts—no matter how scientifically useful that corpse might seem. But snap that same Splicer while he’s very much alive, and lunging at you with steel hooks? That’s grade-A material.

2. Bully

As the ultimate high-school-delinquent simulator, Rockstar’s Bully went all out in populating its curriculum with the sort of easy-A electives that hooligans cherish. So of course photography was one of those classes, and one the game treated with the apathy of a teacher who has spent the last 20 years grading close-ups of camera straps and thumbs. Just like real life, taking a photo of the correct thing and getting it reasonably in frame was all that was necessary to pass, allowing you to get back to the hoodlum’s real business of finding the best hiding spots in the girl’s dorm and calculating optimal lawn-mowing paths.

3-4. The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker

The developers of these Zelda games likely introduced the Pictograph Box—a camera that can only hold one photo at a time in Majora’s Mask and three in Wind Waker—so you had no choice but to appreciate the fine work of their graphics department. In Majora’s Mask, Link receives his camera before taking a boat cruise through a swamp, and the vendor instructs Link to photograph “something special” during his ride. Aside from colorful plant life and occasional monkey, Link is forced to home in on small details during his trip: the way the purple poisonous water lights up the night sky, or a tiny smiling frog bouncing on a log. The Pictograph challenge happens early in the game, opening your eyes to the world’s various shades, even when the moon is moments from crashing to the ground and destroying everyone.

The Wind Waker’s Pictobox challenges are focused on the people who inhabit the game’s many islands. For example, you have to photograph “two secret lovers exchanging glances,” which happens just once a day as two townsfolk “happen” to walk by one another, and only for a fleeting moment. In another, you must photograph someone mailing unwanted love letters, forcing you to camp out near a mailbox hoping to catch someone’s secret shame-face. It’s one of the pervier aspects of a Zelda game.

5. Dead Rising

Frank West lays out his photojournalist cred in Dead Rising’s first few seconds as he snaps shots of the zombie outbreak in Willamete, Colorado. Zombies? Whatever. The guy has covered wars. Then he drops inside a shopping mall and runs around in his underpants, hitting the dead with golf clubs and loaves of bread. Dead Rising typically leans towards the silly when striking its trademark blend of terror and comedy, but your role as photographer is an even mix of both. The game doles out experience points for photos that fall into five categories. “Horror” has you snapping picks of encroaching mobs, for instance, while “brutality” calls for a grisly death scene. The barrier of the camera, forcing you to focus, makes these scenes resonate. Then there’s “outtakes” and “erotica.” Want outtake and erotica points? Put a big yellow servbot mask on a zombie and then get a shot of its crotch.

6. Beyond Good & Evil

Michael Ancel’s Beyond Good & Evil has its share of violence, but almost everything you do as protagonist Jade is done for the common good, and the most change is affected through her camera. Jade’s a selfless gal, running an orphanage for children whose parents were kidnapped by the alien DomZ (the game’s chief bad guys), and she works as a photographer to support it. Her two primary gigs are both dangerous and civil-minded. The first is conservation work: You compile a wildlife photo census, ferreting out rare bugs and snapping pics of awesome creatures like a mythic space whale. Then there’s Jade’s main job, putting together splashy photographic features for the revolutionary IRIS network. Most of the game’s central missions see you infiltrating facilities run by a private military contractor to get photographic evidence of their collusion with the DomZ. Many games would simply have you bash the monsters on the head, but here your job is to expose them to the people.

7. Mass Effect 3

In Mass Effect, the debut of BioWare’s epic sci-fi series, punching a reporter for her “snide insinuations” is often the extent of your galactic media outreach. In Mass Effect 2, perhaps suffering from brain damage brought on by that savage right cross, the same reporter again goads you into a potentially violent rage. The third installment, though, requires hero Commander Shepard to forge alliances among the different alien species of the galaxy. This necessitates propaganda efforts that go beyond fisticuffs with mouthy journalists (although that’s still an option). One mission, offered by a hapless war documentarian, tasks the Commander with acquiring footage of sad-faced refugees living in space’s biggest shanty town. This isn’t about composing the shots, given that you don’t even have a camera. (You’re supposedly filming with the futuristic-Swiss-army-knife “omni-tool” strapped to your arm.) Instead, it’s about finding suitable subjects that will tug at the audience’s heartstrings and pursestrings. Footage of an armor-clad Turian getting a candy bar from a vending machine isn’t going to cut it. Fortunately, there are plenty of miserable, nomadic aliens strewn about the dock in various states of misery and decrepitude. Giving these planet-less ragamuffins a few moments of screen time will have those war bonds selling like hotcakes.

8-10. Skate series

There’s a moment in Super Mario 64 when a stroll past a mirror reveals that all of Mario’s moves are being filmed. The cameraman is Lakitu, one of those bespectacled turtles that float on a cloud. The Skate series is one of the few other instances of game makers contriving a backstory for the ever-present virtual “camera” that follows the player’s actions in any game. In the first two entries of the skateboarding series, that unseen but frequently heard cameraman is Giovanni Reda, a real-world skate filmer. Reda is replaced by the fictional, less talkative Shingo in Skate 3. But their purpose is the same: to constantly capture footage that can be edited down and shared on the web. A number of skater games have featured missions that challenge the player to make it into the pages of Thrasher of Transworld, as the skateboarding subculture long relied on magazines and low-budget videos to capture amazing feats and create stars. But Skate tapped into that impulse and created, if only momentarily, a vibrant online community where pretending to skateboard felt almost as cool as actually kicking a board around.

11. The Amazon Trail

The success of edu-tainment classic The Oregon Trail inspired developer MECC to create a spinoff that taught kids about saving the rainforest and the history of Western colonization. While you and your native guide can be injured, get sick, or lose supplies to hazards, The Amazon Trail is far less brutal than its progenitor, which may be why it’s faded into relative obscurity. Rather than focus on base survival, the game puts you in the shoes of a naturalist. You collect and identify photos of all the plants and animals you encounter along your journey. The more complete your album, the better your final score. Players can also chat with Henry Ford and go spear fishing, but the main takeaway is that you’ll know what an ocelot is and why it’s endangered.

12. Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Nathan Drake always has the answer. While his fortune-hunting buddies Sully and Elena ponder a confounding Persian obelisk, Drake’s all too happy to say, “Aha! It’s referring to Prince Akbar’s lost caravan of mystic spices—I have a photo of the relevant charcoal rubbings right here in my diary.” When did Drake ever find the time to compile that waterproof, bulletproof, seemingly omniscient tome? Uncharted: Golden Abyss, the PlayStation Vita prequel to Drake’s many adventures, makes scrapbooking part of the game, as you gather photos of ancient architecture and forgotten mysteries into Drake’s diary. Being a Vita game, the photography involves some tactile delights: You move the device around to frame your shot and zoom in by sliding your finger over the unit’s rear touchscreen. There’s not much challenge, since the game shows you precisely what to photograph ahead of time, but the notion of Drake lining up a snapshot like a mere tourist does give the impossibly heroic character a refreshing air of humanity.

13. Yakuza 3

Kazuma Kiryu is a man out of time. It’s part of what makes the Japanese mobster so likable as the protagonist of the Yakuza series. Kazuma’s anachronistic sensibilities also provide comic relief when he bumps up against something modern. Photoblogging, for example. In Yakuza 3, Kaz meets a young photog named Mack who teaches him about “revelations.” People are strange and wonderful, says Mack, so keep your cell phone handy to photograph their lives and blog about it—you’ll learn something about yourself in the process. A nice thought, but in practice, these revelations aren’t so profound. When Mack tips you off to a promising photo subject, you just show up to the prescribed place and respond to button-press prompts as a miniature skit plays out. Then comes the life lesson. What does Kazuma learn when he captures a guy taking a hit in the jewels at the Kamurocho batting cages? He learns a ground roll, testicle-head-butting maneuver for street fights. This is what happens when an ex-con with a heart of gold discovers Tumblr.

14-17. Fatal Frame series
Fatal Frame III

Fatal Frame figures that if you buy the fabled superstition that a photograph can capture your soul, then surely a camera would make a great ghost-busting tool. So goes the tacit premise of all four games in producer Keisuke Kikuchi’s signature series of horror games. Each game has its own story, but the setup is always the same: A lone girl is trapped in a haunted place, and the lost, angry spirits will kill her if she doesn’t stop them with the Camera Obscura, an antique shutter box that exorcises ghosts. Fatal Frame uses the camera to cripple the player. You can’t see the ghosts clearly unless you’re looking through the lens, but that also forces you to stand still as the specter of a leering farmer bears down on you with a shovel. Staring into the face of death is the only way to avoid it.

18. Lost: Via Domus

Perhaps aware that this slapdash game would do nothing to bolster the reputation of their show, the Lost executive producers instead tried to ensure that it would at least do no harm. To that end, players of Lost: Via Domus are not allowed to control any of the complex, engaging characters they’ve seen on TV. Instead they’re saddled with some mope named Elliott Maslow who was invented for the game. Afflicted with amnesia after the crash of Oceanic 815, Maslow is a freelance photojournalist, which explains (sort of) why you use his camera during flashback sequences to jog his memory. It’s hard to tell why taking a picture of, say, the sign in a secondhand shop would be any more therapeutic than simply looking at it, but the game tacitly demands we accept this contrivance. Given such clumsy storytelling, it’s no wonder that the TV show’s producers declared Via Domus to be non-canonical. Otherwise, Elliott Maslow could have introduced a flaw into the otherwise perfect diamond of narrative logic that Lost constructed in the course of its six seasons.

19. Pokémon Snap

Why is that Pikachu so damn happy, anyway? Being a Pokémon is a hassle, at least judging by Pokémon Snap. Even when the little pocket monsters aren’t being forced into cross-species cockfights, they’re being poked at by some guy named Todd Snap who won’t stop taking their picture. You play as Todd, riding across seven small ecosystems on an island inhabited by Pokémon. You’re on a set path through each of the environments, so the game actually evokes some of the methodical, you-only-get-one-shot magic of snapping real photos in the wild. Of course, this illusion is broken by the fact that you can replay a stage and the Pokémon are all in the exact same spots as before, waiting for their closeup. Not the most conscientious nature photographer, Todd annoys Pokémon with items like the Poké-Flute to wake them up, or make them dance, or just to piss them off. Another gadget in the arsenal? Pester Balls.

20. Afrika

Often, video game simulations draw more attention to the gulf between games and reality than the similarities. That’s the case with Afrika, a Pokémon Snap-like affair that casts the player as a freelance photojournalist on the African savannah. The trouble with this real-world setting is that it’s hard for clunky 3D animal models to reproduce the enthralling speed and majesty of a cheetah bearing down on an antelope. Yet in one respect, Afrika offers a more convincing verisimilitude. Its camera and lens options are the most expansive and detailed of any game on this list. Players find themselves awash in equipment, and the result is a reasonably accurate simulation of camera nuts’ favorite pastime: tinkering with their gear.

21. Paparazzi

(Note: Video is mildly NSFW.) Don’t let its title fool you—Paparazzi (titled The Camera Kozou in its native Japan) is not a filthy and despicable game where you follow half-dead celebrities and try to take pictures up their skirts. Instead, it’s a completely different filthy game where you take pictures of models who have consented to your upskirt photos. They might not even be drunk, though the only parts of their bodies that don’t move in lethargic slow motion are their breasts, whose bounciness and defiance of gravity are ludicrous even by video game standards. Get the model’s attention by clapping or dancing, shout an order at her, and start snapping away. The game scores your photos based on if you “caught her eye” and other rules based partially on photographic principles but mostly on the shape and position of the coquette’s body parts. For obvious reasons, this game never made it to the United States. For somewhat less obvious reasons, when Paparazzi was released in Europe, the European ratings board deemed it suitable for three-year-olds. Cultural differences!

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85 Responses to “First-person shooters: 21 games that cast players as photographers”

  1. Justin says:

    No Michigan? Or does that not count?

    • Joe Keiser says:

      I will take pretty much any opportunity to mention Michigan, and did think about it for this. I don’t think it really fit though, since it’s more about videography.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      If you guys like that, you should play U.F.O.: A Day In The Life by the best company ever, Lovedelic. Grasshopper and them shared staff and are great friends.  It’s like Pokemon Snap plus Rear Window.  From elsewhere, including a link to a playthrough:

      Also, there’s a really fun game by Hudson or Irem on, I believe, the Playstation 1.  I can’t find it for the life of me, but you’re a tourist who takes pictures of crimes happening in the background (it’s 2-d).  Awesome.
      EDIT: It’s not “Gekibo: Gekisha Boy,” posted below, but it’s exactly like it.

      Also, guys: Game Boy Camera.

    • DiddlePiddle says:

      I’d never heard of Michigan before and I just read the Wikipedia article and came across something funny.

      According to Wikipedia, the names of the reporters in the game are Ann Anderson, Carly Reis, Justine Rhoades, Paula Orton, and Mark Bockwinkle.

      All those names are slight variations of some professional wrestlers’ names. Arn Anderson, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Bob Orton, and Nick Bockwinkle. Pretty funny.

      • DiddlePiddle says:

        Actually, me, on closer inspection, it seems that every character in Michigan was named after a professional wrestler.

        Jean-Phillppe Brisco, Pamela Martel, and Nina Valkov, are similar to The Brisco Brothers, Rick “The Model” Martel, and Nikolai Valkov.

        Double funny, me.

  2. J.S. says:

    Hitting Pokémon with apples was the best part of Pokémon Snap.

    Well, that, and gassing them.

    • WaxTomCruise says:

      I tell you, nothing will impress girls like getting the perfect shot of Mew and all 8 hidden Pokemon that you can only find by taking certain snapshots of seemingly random objects. Um, so I’ve heard. I’ve never actually tested this. But it seems solid!

      • electronsexprty says:

        Being a girl that has gotten a good picture of Mew, I’d be impressed. But, Pokemon Snap was my childhood. My brother and I spent many hours gassing pokemon until they passed out and bonking them on the head with apples.

      • TakeTheCannolis says:

        Oh No! You merged. I refuse.

        – Shit McFuckenstein

  3. Douchetoevsky says:

    You could maybe include Metroid Prime in here, if you’re willing to count scanning things as taking pictures. 

    But more importantly when I linked my AV Club account to disqus it fucked everything up. I can’t figure out how to post from my AVC account at all anymore. I NEED my “Fyodor” back.

    • John Teti says:

      Hmm, yes, it’s not the same without the Fyodor. I will not have such a prominent AV Club commenter’s legacy befouled by this system. I’ve sent a message to Disqus support on your behalf.

      Oh, and we actually talked about Metroid Prime, but I decided that “scanning” didn’t quite fit.

      • Douchetoevsky says:

        AH thanks! 

        I didn’t realize I was prominent AVC commenter. *swoon*

        • John Teti says:

          Well, you are to me at least. Anyway, Disqus got back to me and said that they had fixed it for you, which appears to be true. They also said:

          For future reference, the user can change his display name through his profile settings under the Profile tab here:

          So this story has a happy ending at least.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          @JohnTeti:disqus <3 

          For the record I tried to change my account name through the Disqus account page but it wouldn't let me for whatever reason. I just assumed that I wasn't allowed to have a space in it or something. Whatevs, it's better now.

  4. qptain Nemo says:

    Anachronox also gives you the ability to take photos and it has in-game purposes.

  5. feisto says:

    How about Dark Chronicle? That had a pretty unique take on the whole photography minigame, even if it didn’t really quite work in practice (you really had to rely on those hints to even know where to start).

  6. DestroyHimMyRobots says:

    Gekisha Boy!
    There was also a second part on PS2, slated to come to Europe under the name “Polaroid Pete”. Alas, that never happened.

    Anyway, I love photography in games (as I do in real life). Taking photos of animals in BG&E is the best, most enjoyable part of the game. Loved Otacon’s comments on your, uhm, extracurricular activities in MGS2. And I really should play Fatal Frame 2-4 some time. *googles around* Hey, Spirit Camera has international release dates! Rejoice! The 3DS with its gyroscopic sensor should see some amazing photography games.

    Oh, and the photo mode in GT5 is amazing. You have full control over your camera (aperture, shutter speed etc.) and the best part is, when you export the pictures, the game actually writes EXIF data. You have no idea how embarrassingly excited I was when I noticed that. Ahem. Looks like I should try Afrika.

    • Raging_Bear says:

      “Suddenly, his parents died in a tragic plane crash. He loved them dearly, but they were gone.”

      And that, mere moments he was having his deranged leer comically crushed by LA women’s breasts on the train. Cruel, cruel Japanese Video Game Fate.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      *points up*  THANK YOU.  It was killing me.

  7. HobbesMkii says:

    Oh, Amazon Trail…I wasted so many hours a child on you. Why is it there aren’t any good Trail games anymore?

    On a related note–the premise for the game is that a jaguar comes to you in your dreams and encourages you to cure the Incas of their malaria. Isn’t that the kind of dream you’d be having if you were down there in Peru, indulging in some mixture of poisonous tree frogs and coca? What kind of example was that supposed to be for children?

    • trilobiter says:

       Ummm…preserving nature? 

      • HobbesMkii says:

         Preserving nature while high. Actually, that probably isn’t that far off for a lot of the environmental activists I know.

        It’s kind of muted by the fact I’m pretty sure I harpooned every fish in the entire Amazon Basin. That’s got to have destroyed their precisely balanced ecosystem.

    • WaxTomCruise says:

       I was so into Amazon Trial when I was younger. It was, like, all I would do. During recess I would sneak to the computer lab and try to get 15 mins in before a teacher would notice me.

  8. There is an actual game about taking sleazy celebrity photos called “Paparazzi!! Tales of Tinseltown”. It was an FMV game from the mid-90s, and it was hilarious. 

  9. dreadguacamole says:

     The endless ocean games had a fairly robust photographing system, IIRC; then again, it seems like par for the course for safari games.
     There’s a game being made about a being a war correspondent – it looks pretty good:

  10. Girard says:

    It’s kind of abstracted, but the method of interaction in I Wish I Were the Moon is taking snapshots of the little tableau to manipulate elements in it.

  11. Joseph Echt says:

    FO:NV had a mission where you had to take pictures of some landmarks. Then, in typical FO:NV fashion, the game would glitch and you could never drop the camera from your inventory.

  12. Binsbein says:

    MGS series anyone?

    • Afghamistam says:

      I vaguely remember one of those had a perv swimwear-focussed minigame of some kind.

      • Binsbein says:

        That was in VR Missions, yeah. I was more speaking to the easter eggs you could discover with the camera in the various games, most notably the ghosts in the first MGS.

      • TakeTheCannolis says:

        Isn’t that 95% of Japanese games?

  13. Basement Boy says:

    BG&E was my first PS2 game and was a wonder to play, should revisit it before I finally get around to upgrading. Still I wonder, is Sony *ever* going to bring PS2-compatibility back to the PS3?

    • DestroyHimMyRobots says:

      Since they’re now in the business of selling HD remasters and plain PS2 games on PSN, I’m pretty sure their official stance is “Haha, fuck you”.

      • Basement Boy says:

        Feels that way… oh well, like I *need* to devote another 260 hours to “Disgaea: Hour of Darkness” when I can waste my life trying out the PS3 versions… *and* I can replay the “upgraded” versions of “Ico” and “Shadow of the Colossus”…

    • ChumJoely says:

      Rumor has it that the PS4 will not be backwards compatible with the PS3 either.  Oh, and they’re supposedly going to block used games as well (each game disc will have a unique ID that’s registered once when the original purchaser first plays it, and from then on it can never be played under any other PSN profile).

      Also, Kotaku got this from a leaked press release that says “FUCK YOU” in large letters at the top.  So there you go.

  14. Basement Boy says:

    Silent Hill’s “Shattered Memories” also involved a bit of phone-photography, if I recall correctly…

  15. Aymanut says:

    This is awesome. Inventory for games! I approve.

  16. beemoviefan says:

    Don’t forget Photograph Boy, perhaps the…greatest photography based game.

    The intro:

    Gameplay footage:

  17. Dikachu says:

    The Sly Cooper PS2 games all had photography missions as well.  It was kind of pointless in a platformer, but the games were fun enough so that it didn’t really matter.

  18. TuxedoMonkey says:

    Dark Cloud! Coming up with inventions by combining pictures was a great little diversion.

  19. In the beginning of Mario 64, you see one of the Lakitu brothers (the one that represents the players POV) from the perspective of the second one. The point at which you catch the player-POV Lakitu in the mirror is halfway through the game, when you’re looking in the mirror at the Snowman’s Land room. The mirror is what gives you the clue as to the location of the portal into Snowman’s Land.

    JEEZ. At this rate, you’ll never get a job at the WSJ.

  20. Phillip Collector says:

    Aw snap!

  21. ikma says:

    *dance for model*


  22. That Paparazzi game, I dunno….the breasts aren’t moving like any bags of sand I’ve ever seen.

    • WaxTomCruise says:

      I just assumed the game was set in space, what with zero gravity and all.

    • Drunken Superman says:

      Ah, breast physics.  Easily the most productive use of a programmer’s time.  I always imagine some poor code, spending hours and hours trying to get it just right, only to end up with something resembling a couple of half-full water balloons.

  23. I have an incredibly poor sarcasm detector, so I was having a hard time with that comment about Lost’s diamond logical structure. I finally got it though.

  24. PugsMalone says:

    No mention of Baten Kaitos, where you get most of your money from taking pictures of monsters and selling them?

  25. ChumJoely says:

    I worked on that game, and can confirm that it was absolutely dreadful.  It’s just a bunch of loosely connected minigames.  Yuck.

  26. BobbyBrownGoesDown says:

    I remember seeing LOST: Via Domus at Blockbuster right when it came out…with about 30 copies on the shelf. I guess Blockbuster thought its popularity would match the show?

    Anyway, I remember thinking that game would be SOOO cool if it was actually made properly. Obviously, a game based on a science fiction show that was actively jumping the shark is not gonna be high priority for game developers, but they created a perfect setting (the Island) for a Myst-style puzzle/adventure game.


  27. The_Asinus says:

    Eternal Sonata has a strong picture-taking component and only during combat. I never really thought of it as a way of forcing you to admire the graphics, just as a way of frustrating you as you tried to figure out the game’s aesthetics (your pictures are judged by shop owners who give you money for them based on the grade).

    • John Teti says:

      Interesting. Did you ever get a sense of what was aesthetically appealing? What seemed to please the shop owners the most?

      • The_Asinus says:

        Sorry for the long delay– No, not really. I framed some shots that I, as a sort of photographer, really liked– catching the other character squaring off with a monster, getting them both in the shot and fairly interestingly framed and they would score a C or something not very impressive. Then other times I’d get something that was far too close, would crop parts of the monster off, and those would get an A. Then other shots that would look like the latter and still get low grades. Still, it’s an easy way to get some money in the game.

  28. wolfmansRazor says:

    There was a reversal of this sort of thing in the Tony Hawk games, which often required you to be photographed doing a sick trick. Those challenges were usually pretty lame.

  29. jfudge says:

    I am sure you are going to get a lot of “hey you left out game x” and whatnot, but how could you leave Dark Cloud 2 out? Yes I know the title is “first-person” shooters but Dead Rising isn’t a first person shooter, so why not…

    • John Teti says:

      It wasn’t on the list because it wasn’t. The idea of an Inventory isn’t to be exhaustive; the idea is to come up with an interesting list and let the readers talk about it and expand on it. A flat “How could you leave out X?” reply misses the point. We’re looking for, “Here’s another one, and here’s why it’s interesting…”

      Perfect example: @The_Asinus:disqus ,  two comments up.

      • jfudge says:

        Okay, I’ll dance this merry dance with you, John. In
        Dark Cloud 2 photography is mostly noncompulsory but it can unlock a couple of characters,
        can be used to invent things, and is part of a contest that unlocks special
        rewards within the game.
        The things you have to photograph can be mundane,
        sometimes seemingly impossible to capture on film, and mostly unknown without
        reading a FAQ.
        It’s all about discovering things in the world you might not pay attention to if you didn’t have a camera to toy around with.


        • The_Asinus says:

          That could be a topic for an inventory itself– Games with shit you could never possibly find without a guide. Though that list could be way too long even without being exhaustive. What about games that have main stories that would be next to impossible to solve without a guide?

          The trend seems to be to sell games and their guides as a package deal. Sword Quest on the atari was impossible to figure out without the accompanying graphic adventure/comic book (we didn’t have one, I had no idea what any of the shit was that could be picked up, moved around. Some were clearly zodiac symbols, and others looked like plates with peas on them. And why are we picking them up? Where do they go?) but that was a limitation of the hardware and the book was provided. Now it’s quite advantageous to sell games wiht a ton of you’d-never-find-it shit. I think it’s ALMOST as bad as selling DLC that is already on the disc… assholes.

  30. Ville Häkkinen says:

    Oh good, a list of things. You don’t see enough of these around.

  31. caspiancomic says:

    How about the Spider-Man games? Peter Parker is a photographer.


  32. ZPowers says:

    “The desire  to take screenshots is as old as video games”

    That’s true. That’s why there are no pictures from before 1970.

    Oh, they had plenty of cameras, but at the time they were mostly used to frighten squirrels, because their large lenses resembled the eyes of an owl.

    • trilobiter says:

      The flash caused further disorientation by tricking the squirrels into believing the owl was hunting during daylight hours.

    • Citric says:

      You know that when you take pictures in real life it’s not a screenshot, right?

      • ZPowers says:

        Ah, point. I think I assumed the word as snapshot.

        (still though, likely the technology and certainly the desire for screenshots and screen caps pretty clearly existed before video games)

      • The_Asinus says:

        Every December, it’s off to Sears to get the family screenshot for our Christmas cards.

  33. Citric says:

    I’m not sure if it could be considered a goal of the game, but Gran Turismo 4 and 5 both spent a lot of time and energy giving you a place to take pretty, pretty pictures of your pretty, pretty cars.

  34. SnugglyCrow says:

    GTA3 San Andreas had the extra goal of finding things you could only see through the lens of a camera and taking a picture of it.  Which was a terrible idea The OCD-need to 100% that game and the inanity of having to complete the ridiculous tasks of taking pictures or finding oysters largely turned me off from video games for the next 5yrs.  But I recently got a platinum trophy on Demon’s Souls so I guess I’m fixed now.

  35. I love stuff like this. There’s a neat Flash game where you need to center a UFO in a shot.

  36. OhHaiMark says:

    I loved the first two Fatal Frames but I lost track of the series after a while.  Four looked fun, but then it never came.  Shame?

    I still remember the reactions you got from taking some ridiculous photos in Metal Gear Solid 2.  Snake+Chiseled Man Posters= NICE!

  37. caseyO says:

    Snapshot Adventures: Secret of Bird Island REPREZENT muthafuckas. Bird watching AND photography, together at last: 

    ….it’s actually a pretty fun, well done game.

  38. qingming87 says: 

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