If there’s something that I’ve been meaning to do for quite sometime is to learn some of the basics of photography. Although taking pictures in video games will never replace actual photography classes or the act of going outside and learning through trial-and-error, there have been several titles with photography-taking mechanics that are worth checking out. I decided to write a list with some of the games where taking pictures is a mechanic central to the game, so take into account that games like Gran Turismo (where you can definitely take pictures of your cars, but that doesn’t impact the progress of the game in any meaningful way) weren’t considered for the list.
At one point during the game, you have access to an item called the Research Camera. This box camera allows you to take snapshots of some of the enemies you encounter along the way and those pictures are graded. Although it doesn’t damage enemies, taking pictures allows you to gain various rewards against specific enemies. It may not be the most memorable part about the BioShock series (the camera appeared in both BioShock and BioShock 2) and it may not be the best use of photography in video games, this mechanic definitely added something unique to the first-person action game.
4. Dead Rising
In the first Dead Rising, you assume the role of freelance photographer Frank West who travels to zombie-infested city to cover the pandemic. Apart from taking pictures, the war journalist can also combine the different items he finds to craft unique weapons. Soon enough, you’ll be running around in your underpants attacking zombies with a chainsaw, but snapping pictures is still one of the most special parts about the game.
3. Fatal Frame
According to an old legend, photos can capture your soul and that’s definitely the case in Fatal Frame (called as Zero in Japan and Project Zero in Europe.) In the Japanese survival horror game, you use the Camera Obscura to repel and exorcise the angry spirits that are chasing you in a haunted mansion. It may not have the same pizzazz as using a shotgun or a machine gun, but defeating ghosts with a camera is refreshing and unique.
Beyond Good & Evil puts you in the shoes of investigative reporter Jade who wants to uncover a human-trafficking operation. Interestingly, the only items she has to do so are a staff and a camera. In this critically acclaimed action-adventure game, you can also use the camera to capture the local wildlife and help the census and scan certain objects to reveal more details about your surroundings.
1. Pokemon Snap
Everyone might be obsessed with Pokemon Go, but if you want to take pictures of pocket monsters, there’s no better way than using a good old Nintendo 64. Pokemon Snap might lack the thrill of battling and capturing creatures, but this fantastic spin-off encourages you to visit seven environments to take pictures of some of the most iconic Pokemon ever created. Pokemon Snap is also available for the Nintendo Wii via the Virtual Console service.
Here are other photography-based games that were taken into account but didn’t make the final cut: Snapshot, Afrika, Paparazzi, Lost: Via Domus, Yakuza 3, Metal Gear Solid, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Bully.