I’ve had a Nintendo Switch since its early 2017 launch and have taken 1052 screenshots on it since then. I guess I can’t resist that wonderful camera sound that happens each time I press the screenshot button. That’s can’t be all of it, though. Why am I really doing this?
I take shots whenever I see something cool in game, such as this great room in the Metroidvania game Dandara:
I take shots when I’m amused, as I recently was when fighting a bulbous boss in Super Mario Odyssey:
I take shots when a game has a funny line in it:
I press that screenshot button when I realise I might need to show something for an article:
I take shots when I start a game:
And I take shots when I’m done (well, not completely done, Hollow Knight fans, but at least once the credits first roll):
At least half of my screenshots are from Zelda, the game that made me a Switch in-game photographer:
I couldn’t resist snapping shots of amazing rooms:
… or of how cool Link looked in cutscenes in whatever outfit I’d put him in…
… I was even fascinated with the green line the game could draw to show me where on its map I’d been...
I take some screenshots on my Xbox One and a whole heap on my PS4, but my Switch is the most filled. I’ve never enjoyed the button presses needed to take shots on Xbox, and on PlayStation I’ve defaulted to taking videos. On Switch, the screenshot button is perpetually easy to press.
I’ve also come to enjoy the system’s failure to collect the shots by game. Instead, I just have a flow that tells the story of me playing this system. The shots stack in reverse-chronological order, older shots lower down the list.
Here I am bailing on Splatoon 2’s brutal Octo Expansion to return to Breath of The Wild’s Champions Ballad:
Here I am finishing the unexpectedly good LEGO Ninjago game, dipping back into Steam World Dig 2, dallying with Axiom Verge and Celeste, and then settling into Dandara.
As a kid I had a couple of shoeboxes bulging with more holiday photos than I needed. As an adult whose photos and screenshots are digital, those shoeboxes now seem quaint. With cloud storage on my phone — and toddler twins I can’t stop taking photos and videos of — I have more captured moments to look at than I have moments to look.
The digital image sprawl has spread across my gaming devices, with as little limitation. All of these screenshots take up very little room, just 185MB on a 100GB microSD card. I can snap plenty more.
As I look through these shots, I see habits forming, some inexplicable. Apparently, I feel the need to take screenshots at the start of boss battles…
And I rush to take shots of news…
I try to commemorate moments I enjoyed in games, such as when I played a round of Fortnite with my nephew and we — mostly he — built a big Kotaku sign.
And at times I snap a shot to help me remember something I don’t understand in a game that I suspect I’ll want to go back to, such as this tree I found early in Hollow Knight…
Mostly, though, I think I’m taking photos not to remember things but to capture beauty. The games we play are full of spectacle, and my instinct when I see something gorgeous in a Switch game is to move my finger to that button and click away.
I’m making postcards, essentially, of the amazing virtual places I’ve been.