In the beginning it was July 2005. A topic created by Gaetano Lenoci on The First Place forum, "Il videogioco in una fotografia" [lit. "Videogame in a photography"], first suggested the use of a single picture to describe videogames and to capture the feeling of a (virtual) moment (actually) lived by the videogamer.
The idea was simply brilliant, and only four months later had already grown into a challenging public contest edited by Italian journalist Ivan Fulco on The First Place site: namely, the Still Life Competition.
The contest proved a success, and after that not only a second one (the Still Life Competition - Reloaded) followed shortly, but it also sprouted both the opening of many solo galleries by other users and the concept of "Still Live": pictures shot in the real world to describe videogame and its virtual spaces. Even this case, the idea generated its own competition and galleries and, as of September 2008, The First Place proudly hosts 22 Still Life galleries and 20 Still Live galleries (See links below).
But that is not all.
Back in 2004, videogame journalist and film critic Emilio Bellu had come up with the fascinating concept of a reportage, made of images and words, from virtual worlds: a "Virtual Geographic".
In time, many Virtual Geographics were published on The First Place site, and in September 2006 the idea even developed into a book: "Virtual Geographic: Viaggi nei mondi dei videogiochi" [Lit.: "Virtual Geographic: Journeys into the Worlds of Videogames"] (ed. Costa & Nolan).
Edited by Ivan Fulco, the book brought to the reader a series of fine Virtual Geographics created by The First Place Service staff, interesting essays by the same TFP staff and prominent critics and theorists Matteo Bittanti, Mario Gerosa and Douglas Wilson, and diaries recounting the virtual lives of four notorious avatars living in MMOGs such as Second Life, Entropia Universe and Guild Wars.
In 2008, in a time of photorealistic graphics and Full-HD videogames and LCDs, the concepts of Still Life and Virtual Geographics originally elaborated by The First Place users and staff seem more fresh and intriguing than ever. Can they evolve into a true "videogame photography" with esthetics, sensibilities and styles of its own?
Time will tell, as they say. But in this particular case, videogamers are actually the ones who ultimately hold the answer. Because this is what this space was created for: to bring the subject on an international, multi-cultural level, and to unite local videogamers communities from all countries into one unique place where they can meet and share their own virtual experiences despite all the linguistic barriers that normally keep them divided.
A place where images, and not words, matter...
- Virtual Geographic: Viaggi nei mondi dei videogiochi (Book edited by Ivan Fulco)