This VR photography demo is like Pokemon Snap for action sports

Who remembers Pokemon Snap? The game was released in 1999 for N64 as a rail “shooter”, and let you take pictures of Pokemon while riding through different courses. But while your path through each level was predetermined, the photographs were not. Meaning users had free control of the camera and absolute discretion in what they could photograph and which type of shot to use.

Now, almost 20 years later, one VR game developer has brought this idea into the 21st century by making a photography demo for the HTC Vive.

Made by Chicago-based game developer Robomoto, the aptly-titled “VR Photography Experience” puts you in the shoes of an action sports photographer stationed at the top of a halfpipe, while a skateboarder skates from side to side.

While the default view just makes it feel like you are standing there in VR, you have the ability to “raise” the camera and enter a viewfinder mode, which lets you snap shots of the action. Interestingly, the VR environment goes from 3D to 2D when a user raises the viewfinder, something that the developers said took a great deal of fine tuning and work.

The developer noted on Twitter that the demo is part of a broader goal of using VR to “relive memories” instead of just play games. It’s not hard to imagine the simulation genre becoming a mainstay of VR gaming, whether it is photography games, flight simulators, or anything else that lets you experience what it’s like to do someone else’s job that is much cooler than yours.

Currently, the experience only exists as an internal prototype, but the team said they are looking at various options to release it to VR audiences. The demo video also teases other real-life VR photography “missions” including paparazzi, wildlife (literally Pokemon Snap), war journalist, and stake out.