First, let’s get this out of the way – yes, I take selfies IRL. Sometimes you’re just looking so good, with your best gal by your side, and holding a plate of delicious tapas with impeccable plating, and all of a sudden your phone is in your hand… but I digress.
Video games used to be simple beasts – jump on some platforms, or navigate a maze, pick up stuff, stab or shoot or eat some things, save the day. Yet for all their simplicity, they were worlds of their own, and our young imaginations would run wild. We would play make believe and share our experiences with our friends, cosplay or fanfic was the next natural step for some – we wanted to live in those worlds and share our enthusiasm. At that time though, games were, for the most part, a personal experience on an emotional level that is difficult to share.
Enter the modern age. We have little computers in our pockets, and more and more people are playing games on them as they go. Whereas you used to have to take a picture of your LCD screen using your film camera to enter the monthly Nintendo Power high score contest, now you can capture screenshots of your games while you’re playing and immediately upload them to the social network of your choice for all to see. Also, games are no longer regulated to the 8-bit 2D plane, but are beautiful and often lifelike Hollywood-level productions.
Eventually, game designers caught on – gamers don’t just play a game, they live them, and just like the compulsion we face in the real world to show off our looks, our food, our whatever to garner attention, facilitating selfies of your characters in games was a natural conclusion. Games allow you to become the hero, so why not take selfies of you on your adventure?
So without further ado, let me share some of my own special memories of some recent games that have taken advantage of this trend, and please share links to your own in the comments below!
Final Fantasy XV
The first game that I can think of that actually made selfies an integral part of the gameplay, Final Fantasy XV and its native photographer Prompto became instant internet sensations. The game is meant to be a journey between brothers, and nothing is more integral to the modern day road trip than a lot of photos – pictures or it didn’t happen. Rather than take the photos yourself as the player, however, the game would capture moments of your battles and cutscenes from Prompto’s point of view, using his photography skill and copious amounts of filters. You even had to level up his photography skill for his picture quality to increase!
Later Square Enix allowed the player to take control of the camera, but I was long done by then. Still, despite the lack of agency the game took great pictures, and at the end of a long, hard journey, it was a lot of fun looking back on those images. Here are a couple of highlights:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The game everyone has been raving about with good reason, the latest entry in the Legend of Zelda franchise is truly a tour-de-force. With beauty, danger and surprise around every corner, the world truly feels alive. So of course, when they introduced the concept of a device that is basically a mobile phone to the game, they had to add selfies.
The photography mode is a bit awkward as you can take selfies for your album, but then not actually export them out of the game. I chose instead to do screensnaps of some of my zany adventuring, leaving the camera interface intact:
Horizon Zero Dawn
My favorite game out of the three for photos and in general, Horizon Zero Dawn by Guerilla Games managed to capture my imagination even more than Breath of the Wild. Sure, the world wasn’t quite as large, and you couldn’t manipulate it in as many ways, but the it was gorgeous and full of energy, and the story felt more important than BotW and carried more weight. Not to mention that the protagonist Aloy (played by the incomparable Ashly Burch) was a strong hero that I truly admired.
It also helps that the game has a fully functioning photo mode – you can pause the game at any point outside of a cutscene, pan and zoom, change the camera aperture or filter, and even the time of day. You can even add frames – there was no shortage of selfie madness in this game.
While it may feel like I was objectifying Aloy in these pictures, I’ll say again that she was a hero I felt attached to for her strength and unwavering poise in the face of danger – but who am I kidding, she’s also drop dead gorgeous. For that matter though, so are Noctis and Link – pretty people, all of them! I also loved the way she would pose subtly in the game – the rain photo is my favorite.
Thanks for reading! Please share links to your own game selfies in the comments, and if you enjoyed this post I encourage you to follow my blog on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date with all my nerdy nonsense!