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Nothing I like more than capturing a beautiful sunset or sunrise or a sprawling vista with some interesting feature (no really I do, check out my instagram johnharrisonmedia) sometimes its on a lovely island, or up on a hill or just a round the town I'm visiting and sometimes theres a huge alien monolith shooting energy beams into the sky or a dragon in the distance.
There have been some graphically awesome games released since graphics got passed platform based games. Not just good graphics but beautiful renderings of the world (wether real or huge alien installation designed to end all life). Some games you're just barreling along on your warthog/horse and all of a sudden the view opens up before you and you're just forced to stop and take in the beauty of the scene. You stand there for ages; enjoying the sunrises/set over distant mountains, the sunlight rippling off a lake or river, the suns rays filtering through tree branches—it's transfixing—until you get shot in the back or attacked by a mudcrab.
Ever since I first played the N64 version of The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, I've noticed these moments more and more in games. The game would throw you this curveball of experience as the sunset or rose over Hyrule field and I'd find myself trying to find the best location to see the sunset or sunrise rather than doing whatever I was meant to be doing at the time. I didn't think too much of it at the time and didn't really get any moments like this from other games until I played the first Halo game on the Xbox. There I was running through this alien installation happily headshotting grunts for fun and suddenly I got to the top of a rise and it happened again. I froze. The landscape before me was breathtaking. Mountains, rivers, trees, all just perfectly rendered to look beautiful I just stood there and took it in (until I got shot and had to kill all the covenant spoiling the view). It became a regular thing with that game and its sequels it just kept offering a gaming world that was as beautiful to just stand in and appreciate the artistry that had gone into creating it. Many of these places were inaccessible to the player so they weren't required to be that attractive, they just made them that way because they could. From then there also came the Elder Scrolls games and then the newer Fallout 3, New Vegas, and Fallout 4. One thing stayed with me through all these games the desire to find "those" views.
Fast forward to now and in real life I work as a freelance photographer, I actually do street and landscape photography as my preferred work and I can't help but wonder, is it all connected? Have these moments in games had an influence on my work and career indirectly? Theres certainly a pattern to the types of view and photographs I like to get that resembles the views I loved in the games, minus the obvious alien architecture and dragons—unless I'm in Wales. The same soft light and mixture of landscape features, the inclusion of interesting foreground features or elements of buildings and most obvious a fixation with sunsets and sunrises
It made me wonder, why just try to capture the moments I liked in games in real life. Why not try to capture the moments in the games themselves? So I started my game of Skyrim. I was playing and decided to act like a travel photographer would. I visit areas of the world and find the features or locations I'd shoot if I was actually there. I'd wait for the lighting to be right or some action from a NPG or occasional dragon and using the whole screen like a viewfinder I'd screen grab the "shot." Once I've got the shot I'd upload it to the editing software and treat it like one of my "real world" photographs. So I've now become a travel photographer of the gaming world—I'm waiting for that class to be created +3 accuracy +5 artistic flair +3 strength (all the kits heavy). Once I'm finished with Skyrim I'll do the same with Fallout 4 and by then Red Dead 2 will be released so I can get some vintage "photos" done.You have to ask, do the game developers intend there to be such an impact on gamers with these moments? Are the developers just doing the job of making the game look the best they can or are they trying to create art within the game? Some of the moments and easter eggs you find in games would suggest something more than that but that's for an other article I've got planned.
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