In the late 19th century, photographs were primarily made on huge plate-film cameras with bellows and expensive hand-ground lenses. Their operation was nontrivial, and required professional expertise.
The relative youth of photography as a medium made that expertise much more scarce than it is today. All that changed when Kodak introduced the Brownie Camera in 1900.
The Brownie was different. It was about as simple as cameras get: a cardboard box with a fixed-focus lens and a film spool at the back. It took 2 1/4 inch square photos on 117 roll film, which George Eastman had first used a decade earlier.
Millions of Brownies were sold through the 1960s. The simplicity of the camera made it reliable, and its low cost (around $25 in today’s dollars) made it a low-risk purchase for families or even children.
Both camera and film were cheap enough to make photography viable. Easy development without a darkroom made prints possible for everyone.
The Brownie, and later the 35mm camera that replaced it, didn’t just simplify the process of making pictures; they also ushered in new a new kind of picture: the snapshot. Snapshots value ease of capture and personal value of photographs over artistic or social value.
The Brownie brought photography to the people, but not without some help. The snapshot concept was borrowed from a hunting term for shooting from the hip, but Eastman contextualized the act for the masses. For its advertising, Kodak coined the “Kodak moment” and encouraged photographers to “celebrate the moments of your life,” as they still do today. Eastman’s promise was “You press the button and we do the rest.”
What if something similar were possible for games, a sort of video game snapshot?