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They Did it For The 'Gram: The Best Selfie Cameras in Video Games

From Prompto's poorly lit selfies in Final Fantasy XV, to dressing up Kat in Gravity Rush 2, selfies have stepped up since their first appearances in games.

Analysis by Caty McCarthy, .

Selfies are an integral part of (most) of our everyday lives. When the sun hangs high in the sky just right, and you halt to snap a quick picture of yourself before carrying on with your day. A selfie might highlight the fact that you look particularly good for the day, or alternatively, that there’s something funny or worth showing off in the background. A selfie is at once a symbol of confidence, but also humble bragging. In video games, selfies have become a fresh way of interacting with the digital world around you, just as you might in reality.

But some game selfie cameras rise above the rest. While Grand Theft Auto V may have propelled the selfie-reflecting trend first and foremost. In the years since its release, other games have evolved the mere selfie camera into something more than a face-first photomode. In games like Final Fantasy XV and Gravity Rush 2, the selfie gives players another peak into the lives of the characters we inhabit.

When we take selfies, it’s a way to preserve memories. Whether we’re posing alongside friends at a party, we're alone alongside a monument of sorts, or just because we want to cement how cute we looked on a particular day—they're all memories forever engrained in a photo, selfie stick-actuated or not. In games when we take a screenshot, it’s to preserve a moment too; like a beautiful vista, or if a selfie mode is possible, to snap a memory with the hero we’re embodying for the brief amount of time. There are dozens of games that implement and reimagine the art of the selfie: both as a way to capture memories and even beyond that simple sentiment, and below are some of the very best.

What is Link holding up? Air? The crushing weight of his neverending legacy? We'll never know.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Sheikah Slate in Breath of the Wild is not only a magical tablet that enables Link to unlock towers and weasel his way into shrines: it’s also a camera, used to snap pictures of himself posing happily over the corpses of his enemies, or just of hanging out with his loveliest pal (who gifted the camera herself), Purah. While selfies in Breath of the Wild are relegated to the imaginary tripod variety and not an outstretched arm, they still add an endearing functionality to bring us closer to the Hero of Hyrule. And yes, I have been taking a selfie with every sweet, sweet pup I see.

Prompto, buddy... this photo is so overexposed.

Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV takes the selfie out of your hands, and plops the power into the hands of another: your good ol’ pal Prompto. Prompto—to be perfectly honest—isn’t the best photographer in the world. But that boy sure does try. He’ll take a selfie in the midst of battle, when he should be, y’know, fighting. He’ll ignore the terrible lighting emitting from the sky, and take a way-too-dark picture of his nice buddies anyways. Prompto is the perfect example of that friend in your life that feels the weird desire to document everything, even though it’s incredibly unnecessary. But at least, it lifts the burden off of snapping decent in-game pictures from me. Even as someone who wasn’t the biggest fan of Final Fantasy XV, the randomized pictures and selfies taken by Prompto are likely my favorite thing about the game’s lengthy JRPG-bound road trip. And hey, at the end of the day as we snack on some hilariously licensed Cup o’ Noodles around a campfire, some of the pictures aren’t too bad.

This is likely the only selfie from Grand Theft Auto V in existence without a corpse in the background.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V might be credited as being one of the first games to usher in the photo mode selfies trend, as it ventured beyond a third-person photo mode, and flipped the player’s camera onto themselves for a change. This being a Grand Theft Auto game, the most popular digital selfies of the anti-heroes Trevor, Michael, and Franklin were those posing alongside the destruction they wreaked upon San Andreas. Or, like the above, of the occasional shark.

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Kat's selfies remind me of my own: clumsy and imperfect.

Gravity Rush 2

Gravity Rush 2’s selfies are what made me want to play Gravity Rush 2, even after I bounced off the original game (well, aside from that amazingly vast city)—and I don’t say that lightly. In the camera mode, you can arrange your own photos: whether it’s plopping down props, changing outfits, or conforming Kat into different poses (like sitting cross-legged on the ground). Gravity Rush 2 admires that selfies are, primarily, an enjoyable pastime for girls. And rather than making light of that or shoehorning in a selfie camera without a thought, it takes special care to make the act of selfie-taking a game in itself, nearly as endearing as floating around the world itself.

And they say environmental storytelling is dead, smdh.

Watch Dogs 2

Watch Dogs 2 was a personal game for me, since I’ve grown up and lived in the Bay Area most of my life. While in the end I had some legitimate qualms about its story and its representation of San Francisco, its selfie functionality is one of my favorites ever implemented into a game. One of the activities for players to behold in Watch Dogs 2 is, in essence, mere sightseeing. You roam around the depths of the small city of San Francisco (and its surrounding cities), and you’ll often get a notification that you’re by a landmark of sorts: whether it’s a statue, a piece of graffiti, or something else. Then you’ll snap a picture either of it, or a selfie in front of it (fittingly, as all tourists do, I always chose the latter).

Pursuing these landmarks, the game evolved into a virtual tour of the city I’ve loved (and have fallen out of love with) so much of my life. Only now, instead of seeing everything for myself, I was directing the hero of Watch Dogs 2, Marcus, with fresh eyes as I watched him take cheeky, smirk-laden selfies in front of everything noteworthy that we stumbled across.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD

The HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker added a lot of things: a faster sailboat, crisper graphics, etcetera. But chief among those was the inclusion of a photo mode, and what would a photo mode be without a proper selfie camera? In the updated Wii U edition, players were treated to face-first pictures of everyone’s favorite cel-shaded Hero of Hyrule (who also happens to be the cutest iteration of Link, let’s be real).

"Ganon's trying to kill me lol!"

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Comments 11

  • Avatar for swamped #1 swamped 7 days ago
    I want FFXV's photo mode in every game now.
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  • Avatar for catymcc #2 catymcc 7 days ago
  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #3 brionfoulke91 7 days ago
    I just like to see any reminder of Gravity Rush 2!
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #4 Roto13 6 days ago


    Zelda 4 lyfe
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #5 VotesForCows 6 days ago
    This makes me really want to play Gravity Rush 2.
    @swamped Definitely.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #6 MetManMas 6 days ago
    While I haven't used in-game selfie modes all that often (save 15's 'cuz Prompto automatically does it), one of the big reasons why I went PS4 over Xbone is the easy of snapping and sharing photos and videos. My Twitter account's filled up with screens and videos now.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #7 MetManMas 6 days ago
    @Roto13 I see what you did there.
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  • Avatar for apoc_reg #8 apoc_reg 6 days ago
    Side note, wind waker hd converted me from an invert control schemer to a normal, the lack of the option was bizarre but now I can't go back!
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  • Avatar for Jeremiah-Jones #9 Jeremiah-Jones 6 days ago
    Screen capturing and the photo modes have become the reason I pick certain games to play. I got totally addicted to the one in Dissidia, and since I haven't been able to game as much recently, this article certainly gives me options to look into.

    Also, much love for the Wind Waker Link! I love that version.
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  • Avatar for benjaminlu86 #10 benjaminlu86 6 days ago
    Prompto's algorithmic AI camera in FFXV is a way cooler tech than people give it credit for. Sure, a lot of pictures are duds, but it frames and captures moments well far more than you'd expect.

    Also, for what it's worth, Patch 1.03 added a player controlled selfie camera to the game.
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  • Avatar for airbagfin51 #11 airbagfin51 6 days ago
    @benjaminlu86 Yeah, that software behind that selective-ness in choosing what to capture seems like it's got to be remarkable.
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