Morning Hangover: Games And Photography


Posted March 10, 2011 - By Stephen Johnson

Morning Hangover: Games And Photography

You know what blew my mind in gaming? The first time I saw a lens flare in a video game. It was in Pilot Wings for the N64, and it seemed so peculiar and awesome that a game would artificially add a lighting effect that is entirely the product of a camera lens and doesn't exist in nature. Lens flare and other effects are added for "realism" in games, but "realism," in this case, is actually fake-ism, and only refers to a mistake when using a camera.

Lens-FlareNow check out the screenshot above from Epic's Unreal Engine 3 presentation at GDC. Note the bottom left quarter of the image. It's raining in the game, and the "lens" of the "camera" that took this image has a bit of condensation on it, resulting in a smudged, cloudy image. Of course, there is no camera and there was no "real" image to capture, so a fake layer of graphics was added to the image to suggest something real. If the smudge wasn't there, it would look more fake to you, in spite of the fact that, if this neon sign actually existed, and you were really there, standing in the rain looking at it, there would be no smudge at all.

It makes me wonder: Will game makers continue to refine their presentation of artificial, filmic effects in game graphics? Or will the industry, gradually, abanoned "fake realism" in a move toward real-realism?

Also: Good morning!

Morning Hangover: Games And Photography


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