Video-game photos like Megan Reims’s shot of an eagle flying over a gorgeous landscape in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey offer a utopian vision (Credit: Megan Reims / Ubisoft Québec)
Over recent years there has been a proliferation of major video-game releases offering “photo modes”, enabling players to capture memorable moments on their adventures with their own in-game snaps. Blockbuster titles like The Last of Us 2, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and, most recently, Resident Evil Village have all allowed fans to take pictures from a plethora of angles and with a variety of colour filters.
But what might have initially been intended by developers as a novel way to get players to share screenshots of a game on social media (and get it trending) has led to, some claim, the birth of a genuine new artform. Thanks to the hyper-realism of modern video games, which now boast thousands of individual facial animations and random environmental events that play out slightly differently each time you dive in, gaming worlds have evolved to become genuinely spontaneous, life-like landscapes that photographers can comb to create images with their own arguable artistic value. “I guess because you’re not carrying equipment through miles of rock, people think there’s no struggle behind your photos and that they can’t be seen as art,” freelance “virtual photographer” Leo Sang, who is based in São Paulo, tells BBC Culture. “But art evolves with whatever technology defines the age that it was created in.