Photography has been an important element in many video games over the years. Some games are based on photography itself, like the Pokémon Snap franchise and Afrika, whereas other games utilize photography and cameras as gameplay elements or narrative devices. An example of this sort of game is the Fatal Frame series, in which the protagonist uses a camera to damage and capture supernatural spirits. Another such game that falls into the latter category is 35mm. First released in 2016 on PC and coming next month to PlayStation 4, 35mm is a post-apocalyptic horror game where the player uses a 35mm film camera to pause time and explore their surroundings.
However, it’s not just a simple point-and-click photographic experience in 35mm. In the lengthy gameplay trailer below, we see the protagonist pull up their camera and grab a photo. After capturing the shot, you can adjust framing, depth of field, ISO and more.
If the options within 35mm leave a bit to be desired, there has been a significant push toward robust photo modes in many video games within the last few years. For example, other PlayStation games with excellent photo modes include Ghost of Tsushima, God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man. The photo mode is surprisingly in-depth in the lattermost game – and its ‘sequel,’ Spider-Man: Miles Morales. You can adjust basic parameters such as composition, focal length, depth of field, aperture and filters, but you can further and introduce additional light sources and more. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that you could genuinely learn something about photography and lighting in games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
In the upcoming Gran Turismo 7 racing game for PlayStation 4 and 5, the photo mode interface is more akin to what a photographer would expect to see on their camera. The team at Polyphony Digital has gone so far as to create a brand-new mode called Scapes. Within this mode, you can adjust the aperture (as an f-stop), tweak focus mode, use compositional framing tools, change shutter speed and much more. The big draw of Scapes is that you can place the car of your choice in thousands of different environments from around the world, including Patagonia in Argentina, Jasper National Park in Canada, a bamboo forest in Kyoto and many more diverse locations. Within the mode, you can take ‘cutting-edge HDR photos’ that look like they’ve been taken from the pages of an automotive magazine.
There’s no doubt that there are many ways for photographers who also enjoy video games to combine their interests. Whether it’s in a game like New Pokémon Snap, where the entire purpose is to capture wildlife photos of Pokémon, or in a game like Gran Turismo 7 where you can pause the racing action to capture stunning, realistic photos of your favorite cars, there are a lot of ways to flex your photographic muscles without even picking up a real camera.
If you’re interested in 35mm, it’s available now on Steam for $8.99. It will be available on the PlayStation store on March 2 for an undisclosed price. If Gran Turismo 7 is more up your alley, it releases on March 4 for $69.99 and can be preordered now.