For World Photo Day 2016, we take a look back at some of the great games that utilize photography in all manner of ways.

10 Games That Allow You to Unleash Your Inner Amateur Photographer

For World Photo Day 2016, we take a look back at some of the great games that utilize photography in all manner of ways.

August 19th marks World Photo Day – a day to celebrate the beautiful art of photography, no matter your skill level. For those that wish to combine their love of both photography AND gaming, we’ve put together this list looking at a variety of games from over the last 20 years that give you the opportunity to take pictures as you play.

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Pokémon Snap

1999; Nintendo 64, WiiU

This seems a good place to start, considering the game’s re-release on the WiiU this week in Europe. In Pokémon Snap you play as young photographer Todd Snap, working for Professor Oak as he researches wild Pokémon. You travel around Pokémon Island, via its Zero-One safari vehicle system, taking pictures of the wild Pokémon inhabiting the place. This was the first 3D game in the popular franchise, and is a fun little venture, especially for younger fans of the series.

Fatal Frame

2002; PlayStation 2, Xbox, Wii

Pic source: Fatal Frame Wikia

Definitely the most spine-tingling game in this list, Fatal Frame is a survival horror series with a difference. In each game, you are armed with little more than an old camera, as you navigate through dark and creepy haunted dwellings. But fear not – it just so happens that the Camera Obscura you carry with you is just what you need to fight your way past the terrifying ghosts and sad, wandering spirits. Based on the superstition that having your photo taken steals your soul, snapping photos of the angry spirits in your path will weaken them, and allow you to defeat them once and for all.


2008/2013; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC/PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Although a number of the games in the Grand Theft Auto series have featured interactive cameras at some point, it’s the 4th and 5th games in the series that feature them most prominently.

In GTA IV, protagonist Niko carries a Whiz camera phone that is required in a number of missions throughout the game. You can use the camera phone outside of missions to take photos, too, though they cannot be saved.

You’ve upgraded to a smartphone in GTA V, and the Snapmatic app is what you’ll use to take photos for most missions requiring them. Protagonist Franklin does get chance to use an SLR camera in the ‘Paparazzo’ mission, and the ‘Casing of the Jewel Store’ mission provides you with a pair of glasses with a built-in camera, but these are mission-specific and can’t be used elsewhere. A fun feature that has been added at this stage in the GTA series is the ability to upload your photos to social media via the Rockstar Social Club. And yes – you can take photos outside of missions, so get snapping!


2007; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Pic source: BioShock Wikia

The Research Camera features in the earlier games of the BioShock series, and its use contributes to your research rewards in the game. You use the camera to take photos of various enemies and security devices, and in doing so reveal biological weaknesses and hidden secrets related to your photographic subject. The better the quality of your pictures, the higher your scores will be.

Dead Rising

2006; Xbox 360

In this survival horror action game, you play as Frank West, a photojournalist that finds himself trapped in a mall overrun with zombies. Though your main objective is to defeat as many of the undead as possible with whatever is handy, you can also earn Prestige Points by using your camera to capture various people and events as you encounter them. These Photo Opportunities present themselves throughout the game, allowing you to score varying degrees of Prestige Points depending on how well you capture the moments.


2013; PC

This free-to-download puzzle platformer is a lesser known game, but a very pretty one that’s well worth a look. It’s incredibly short, at around 20 minutes long from start to finish, but worth a quick play through for its uniqueness.

In Lumen, you play as a little girl trapped within her own nightmares, and are armed with nothing but a camera. You can use this camera and the subsequent instant photographs, to manipulate the world around you to aid in your escape.

If you wish to give this game a try, you can download it free for PC. As short as it is, what do you have to lose?


2006; PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Wii, PC

Pic source: Bully Wikia

This high school centric game features a photography class as one of its mini-game classes. There are 5 missions to complete as part of the class, and each one involves photographing an assigned subject in return for a reward. Examples include capturing pictures of any three students, and carnival freaks (in order to receive the Yearbook, and double tickets for the carnival, respectively).

The camera can also be used outside of missions to provoke others by aiming the lens their way. Students already on friendly terms with protagonist Jimmy will simply greet him, but those that aren’t will begin to taunt your character and eventually attack if you continue to point your camera their way. So choose your photographic targets wisely!

Dinosaur Safari

1996; PC, Mac

This educational game was designed by scientists from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. In it, after travelling back in time, your mission is to photograph as many different dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures as you can find, to collect valuable data for the “National Chronographic Society”.

The graphics and gameplay leave a lot to be desired, especially 20 years on, but the premise is no doubt still an appealing one for younger children.


2008; PlayStation 3

This realistic simulator game takes you on an African safari to capture stunning wildlife scenes with real-world photography equipment. You are given assignments via email, in which you must capture wildlife in specific situations; for example, a pack of lions on the hunt. As you complete each mission, your photos are graded, and you get to learn about professional photography techniques along the way.

The game is very much like a real world version of Pokémon Snap, as you travel around the area collecting photos of the different creatures you encounter, with not much more of a point to the game beyond that. Afrika was met with mixed reviews, but may appeal to those with an interest in wildlife and photography.

Uncharted 4

2016; PlayStation 4

Pic source: PlayStation Blog

Although Uncharted 4 doesn’t make use of a camera in-game as an actual equipped item like the rest of the games on this list, the game’s Photo Mode is so in-depth and stunning, and so popular amongst players, that there was no way it couldn’t be included here.

The Photo Mode allows you to capture screenshots throughout the game in exquisite detail, and then use editing tools to crop, add filters, and perfect your pictures to your heart’s desire. Fans are using this feature to create beautiful works of art to share online with others. The feature’s popularity shows this to be an enjoyable extra for anyone playing the game.

More and more games are adding a similar screen-capturing feature like the one utilized in Uncharted 4, and with the ever-expanding sophistication of technology, along with the continued rise of social media, I imagine we’ll continue to see this trend in the gaming world.

Did your favourite photography-linked game make it into this list? What other snap-happy games not listed here do you enjoy? Please let us know in the comments, and in the meantime, Happy World Photo Day!

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Amy Turnbull
Stay-at-home geeky mama that's been gaming since early childhood! I wanted to be Lara Croft when I grew up, but writing about video games seemed a little more realistic ;) I love action/adventure and horror games especially, and have a fondness for scouting out indie developers to see what treasures they have to offer the gaming world.