The selfie needs no introduction. Even my mom—hi, mom!—knows what it is. That’s why the Oxford English Dictionary has named “selfie” the 2013 word of the year, defining it as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” As if you need an explanation. The subject of countless think-pieces and numerous variations (“helfie:” a hair-focused selfie; “chakshot”: Korean for selfies taken while trying on clothes in the fitting room), these lone-wolf cousins of the couple photo have emerged as an internet phenom.
They’ve even started showing up in games. Grand Theft Auto 5 and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker are visible examples of games that let players take snapshots of their characters posing in absurd, beautiful moments. But virtual selfies serve a different function that your profile picture does. As Nora Khan explains in her excellent writeup, “It’s not enough to just get a flattering angle on yourself as Link, Michael, Franklin or Trevor. The in-game selfie is really about the obscene action happening in the background. In GTAV, in particular, your selfie works best if the scene you capture makes sense given how we imagine these men.”
In-game selfies have become a peculiar example of art imitating life imitating art. With the selfie getting recognized by Oxford, it strikes me that we need a pun on the word for in-game self-shots. What about Zelfies? GTAlfies?