The trajectory of my digital artefact – More Than A Screenshot – has been rocky to say the least. Categorised by a significant achievement, coupled with a major technical failure and personal blunders has meant that, overall, More Than A Screenshot fell short of my original game plan.
My original idea and concept was a photo essay with a post-structuralist approach, exploring in-game photography (gametography) as an artform. I had a variety of sources for background research, with the majority being popular media sources, with a few academic and scholarly journal articles as well. Gametography has taken off in a big way over the past two years, and many games websites are starting to put out feature articles, essays and think-pieces on the topic, and even running competitions. The utility of my project was to educate people – both photographers and non-photographers, gamers and non-gamers – on gametography, as a lot of people are unfamiliar with the artform. I wanted to bring it to the forefront, educate people on its history, purpose, and exciting possibilities, as well as encourage people to try it for themselves. In terms of my digital artefact’s analytical framework, it was comprised of four parts – political economy, media archaeology, participatory media culture, and technical strata. However with the final product of my digital artefact, I do not believe that I properly addressed all four aspects of this framework – this is due to my aforementioned personal blunders.
In terms of the digital artefact itself, I was planning on posting nine photos – three photos from three different games, with an accompanying caption of approximately 100 words each.
What I ended up with was three posts, comprising of four, five and five photos respectively (from two games – Horizon Zero Dawn and Marvel’s SpiderMan), with annotations totaling approximately 2400 words – including feature quotes from relevant literature. Instead of having one post be one photo with a short annotation, I decided to do longer annotations with one feature photo, and several secondary photos planted throughout the text. This came about after feedback from those I showed the draft of my first annotation to,coupled with the fact that I could not narrow down which photos I wanted to showcase. Because the annotations ended up longer than I expected, it became too much of a wall of text to just have one feature photo. This was pointed out to me by those who read my first draft, which was the main reason for the change in direction there. As previously mentioned, my framework was political economy, media archaeology, participatory media culture, and technical strata. I planned to do four posts, each focusing on one of these aspects, however I fell short and ended up with only three.
Part one of More Than A Screenshot touched on media archaeology, and was essentially an introduction to gametography, with some background information about it, and some pull quotes from informal interviews I did with fellow photographers. Part two focused on political economy, discussing the territorial and sometimes elitist aspects of traditional means of photography, linked with media archaeology, discussing the history of the Brownie camera – which brought photography to the masses. The link between political economy and media archaeology is particularly strong when it comes to the history of photography, and the gatekeeping culture surrounding photography. Part three was on participatory media culture, and it also touched on technical strata – as the original ‘photo modes’ were mods, and are now integrated modes, photo mode is an example of participatory media culture influencing the technical strata (in this case, the screenshot button).
During the course of my digital artefact, a major opportunity came to me, with my panel on gametography accepted as part of PAX Aus. This allowed me, along with three other panelists and a moderator, to spend an hour discussing gametography to about 100 – 150 people who made the time to come and see us. I was planning on recording the audio from this panel and uploading it as a podcast, as many of the things we discussed directly related to my analytical framework. Unfortunately, I put my sole trust in the person working the sound desk at the convention, and he recorded the wrong channel of audio – and our panel did not record. Instead, I was left with a USB drive filled with an hour of silence and disappointment. This was a huge step backwards for my digital artefact, and this bump in the road really took the wind out of my sails. Something that I was really looking forward to being able to share with everyone was suddenly gone, and it felt like the grand finale of my digital artefact had just been cancelled. Trusting the sound guy was my first personal blunder, and from there, I fell off the wagon a bit, feeling disheartened and disappointed with the outcome of my panel and my digital artefact. It was due to this that the posts got shortened from four down to three, as I lost faith in the project. Realistically what I should have done is use what I learned from the panel to turn it into a blog post or a recap podcast, but I just felt let down and began to lose motivation in the project. I believe that this hurt both myself and the project – as looking back, I do believe that More Than A Screenshot has merit as a project, and could help people to learn about this artform. The limitations placed on my project were placed there by me and me alone, and I should have done more to eliminate them.