Photography in, as and against Games
Marco de Mutiis
The project aims at exploring the relationship between computational photographic practices and video games. The research looks at notions of play theory applied to photographic practices in games, analysing phenomena of in-game screenshotting, modding, photo modes and videogames that simulate the photographic act.
Grouped under the general term of so called in-game photography, many different communities of players, game studios, artists and photographers have emerged, developing processes and modes of capturing images that question the role of the apparatus, of the photographer, of the viewer and of the photographic image as traditionally understood. While these diverse practices are widely diffused and have found great interest from the side of the video game industry, research and academic literature on the topic remains limited. This intermedial phenomenon raises a number of issues that challenge the traditional understanding of photography and question the role of images as documents, their social and economic value, as well as their distribution and consumption. Furthermore simulations of cameras and “gamification” of photographic mechanics challenge the whole notion of apparatus and the entire network of relations among photographer, camera, viewers and the resulting images themselves.
The research explores the notion of photographic play and how this is situated within the boundaries of computer games, rethinking ideas of gameplay, rules, game mechanics and quantification in the context of photography. Applying methodologies and concepts borrowed from game studies and play theory, the investigation attempts to scrutinize the photographer as player, connecting traditional concepts of the photographic medium to contemporary “gamified” transformations. The project also applies ideas from game design to re-evaluate photography at large within the confines of play, addressing notions of game mastery and game mechanics as core features of the photographic act. This leads to a further exploration of the role and agency of player-photographers, camera-avatars within games, algorithmic and A.I. game photographers.