Faked screenshots — the experts speak out

katie couricA little while ago, Guerrilla Games, the developers for Killzone 2, responded to charges that their screenshots were modified for the game title. They said, "There are only the tiniest bit touched up." But in spite of the explanation it caused a flurry of criticism about the practice of doctoring up screenshots.

In a feature article done by GamePro, various game industry leaders gave their opinions about the practice of faking screenshots otherwise known in the industry as "bullshots."

Steven Kent, the author of The Ultimate History of Video Games, said that this practice was "exceptionally misleading." Kent saw the tactic as a necessary evil and said, "It’s kind of like negative campaigning in politics. Everybody hates it, nobody respects it, but it’s the upstanding guy who won’t stoop that gets blasted (gets left behind)."

Doctoring up screenshots is an important part of selling video games as gamers frequently look at screenies as their first line of information regarding any particular game. Scott Steinberg, who wrote Videogame Marketing and PR said:

"Players look to screenshots to quickly solidify several elements of any given title in their mind: Theme, perceived quality, variety of content, and how the product compares to contemporaries. A passing glance is enough to set the tone for thousands of viewers."

Although PhotoShopping images is a standard practice in food commercials and modeling, when it comes to games, that’s where some people draw the line. A freelance game writer, Troy Goodfellow remarked:

"Doctoring game images is different from airbrushing a supermodel, lacquering a Thanksgiving turkey, or falsifying a four-inch tall Big Mac. With video games, the screenshot or video is part of what you are buying. When you see a photoshopped model, you aren’t in the market for a model. And the proof of a burger is in its taste."

Dan Hsu, editor in chief of EGM maintains that modified screenshots are usually marked as such by the developers who send them to game sites. These "target" graphics are what the developers envision the final product as looking like. But Hsu said, "…it’s the company’s responsibility to let the press know that these are, indeed, ‘target’ screens and not the real deal. If they do that, then you can’t fairly call it false advertising."

But the question arises, do the game magazines tell their readership that the screenshots are in-progress and conceptual?

Steinberg put it more bluntly by saying, "There’s no excuse for doctoring images. It’s one thing to make your product look as good as it can be, another to fictionalize or glamorize so-called in-game scenes. Call the latter what you will if it makes you feel better, but you’re still lying to everyday shoppers."

So is the practice of manipulating screenshots to make games look better legitimate or not?

[via gamepro]


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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