Last month Jonathan Jones wrote in The Guardian about the phenomena of GTA V players taking photos in-game and then uploading them to flickr. He notes that these virtual photographers are, more often than not, taking shots of the sublime landscapes and vistas the game offers, rather than the violent spectacles one might have anticipated. However, he goes on to assert that these virtual-landscape photographs are nothing more than reflections of the images the game designers wanted us to see and spent so much time constructing and composing. Thus the praise should be lorded onto the coders and artists, and not the snap-happy players.
I can't help thinking that Jones is doing the phenomena of in-game photography a disservice and is neglecting the value of re-appropriation. I don't deny the skill and intent of the game's designers for one moment, but by re-contextualising these images on a platform as established as flickr I think the photographers are giving rise to a valuable cultural asset. The fact that a pool has been created, Landscape Photographers of Los Santos and Blaine County, is another sign of an emerging cultural phenomena of some worth.
While coders might be responsible for the hues of the skies, shapes of terrain and deliberate 'eyecandy' spots facing particularly pleasing vistas, perhaps it's the gamers who will be responsible for the minutia of exactly when to click the 'shutter'. They will therefore choose, on a micro scale, exactly what's in shot. It is they who will be logging their collections and legitimising the worldbuilding that Rockstar's artists who have put so much work into.