'Picture Imperfect': Issues of Video Game Cameras

Corvus of Man Bytes Blog has been posting an interesting series over the past month, contemplating issues of the camera in games: they've ranged from issues of reliance on gun sight type targeting to 'chasing third person cinema.' The last in the series dealing with the problems is on the problematic issue of exactly what the camera is suppose to represent and what it is supposed to do. As he notes, "The central question of these issues seems to be, 'Is the camera meant to represent our eyes, a camera lens, or a gun sight?' And the answer, for better or for worse, appears to be a flat 'Yes.'":

Denis mentioned something that bothered me in Bioshock. The protagonist survives a plane crash in the ocean and when he surfaces, gasping for breath, water droplets stream down the camera lens. The protagonist is not Samus, a space marine, or a motorcyclist. It is highly unlikely he was wearing a helmet, which would have been an overly conspicuous accessory given that he was about to blow up a plane. Bioshock's intent was to involve the player deeply and personally in a story about human nature and the very first thing they try and do is impress you with the visual of water droplet streaming down a camera lens.

Am I being too nit-picky? Perhaps. But it's small details like that which can completely derail any sense of physical presence for me.

The whole series is worth perusing, and I'm looking forward to the next couple of essays dealing with what the future of game cameras is and what techniques could improve the way gameplay and the viewpoint are married.

picture imperfect - schizophrenic camera/eye [Man Bytes Blog]


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