All great media has the ability to transcend time and provide a glimpse into another age as well as another world. The words spoken and read have the ability to come alive from the screen. The way something catches your eye when you are watching a movie or TV show can lead to conversation about your interpretation in the events you witnessed. A photo can give you a perspective on a certain subject, because of how it is framed. The framing not only gives you the perspective of the photographer, but it has the potential to conjure and spark emotions. With a simple glance, it can make you feel happy yet sad. Everyone sees something different in art, and that is one of the most beautiful things about it.
Visual media is about framing; books are framed around intriguing narratives, movies are framed and shot specifically, comic books are drawn to look a specific way, and video games have the ability to blend all three. There is a new trend in games, the inclusion of a “Photo-Mode” that allows for a player to pause the action and play the director, artist, and writer all at the same time. Being able to frame a shot, tell a story, and give a unique perspective on the game and its world.
One of the first Photo-Modes in games was in Suckerpunch’s Infamous: Second Son. The bright yet grim backdrop of Seattle combined with Delsin Rowe’s flashy powers allowed for players to take unique photos. This set a standard for AAA releases, and was something which would be included in a wide variety of games after this release.
Games have this special ability to lean towards unique conversations about different or similar things that happened during people’s playthroughs. Photo-modes allow for moments like this to be shared amongst friends as well as larger communities. These photos have the ability to tell a story without any words. They give us glimpses into other people’s perspectives of that world.
Marvel’s Spider-Man by Insomniac Games includes a photo-mode. It has a wide array of options to craft that one perfect shot, to create stories about your Spider-Man. Insomniac Games crafted the various Spidey suits with a ludicrous amount of detail, which gives the player the ultimate option to make the story theirs. When I was playing Marvel’s Spider-man, I absolutely fell in love with the Photo-Mode in the game. Being able to equip the Noir Suit and swing around Harlem acting as a vigilante to those who had less than me was a dream come true. So, I began to photograph this story.
Photography is something which I loved, and it was something that got away from me. It was the mix of not having access to it and ending on such a high note that seemingly pushed me away from it. But it wasn’t until I tinkered with this totally optional mode that something which was lost to me was rekindled. It is so rare for me to connect to something like this, games have always brought me experiences in the virtual world, and they have seldom done something like this.
This particular photo-mode not only allowed for me to have an experience which was wholly unique to me, but allowed for me to become gradually invested in my narrative. The photos I began to take over time slowly reflect what I was attempting to do, assist and provide protection for those who don’t have the same advantages as me. This was my narrative, not the one which the game was telling me, but the one which allowed for me to live through my Film Noir fantasy. It is something truly exceptional that as more developers include these types of modes, more and more communities craft their narratives, and allow for them to share their emotions in that one perfect frame.