When I spotted this article on WoW.com the other day and went through the attached gallery of the writers' earliest screenshots, it made me want to look at my own old screenshots again. I still have all of mine, going back all the way to when I started playing the game almost four years ago (not counting ones that I intentionally deleted because I thought that they weren't worth keeping)... 716 to be exact.
My first screenshot ever was of the first character I made, a human paladin, standing in the inn in Goldshire at level six. I had just started playing and wanted to show my character to my friends on my personal blog.
My first screenshot of my night elf priest shows her standing in Shadowglen at level two - I had just rerolled to play with some friends, and again I felt the need to show off.
My first screenshot of a Horde character shows my tauren hunter at level one, dancing in sync with my friends' druid and shaman. There would always be time to level later... then was the time to dance!
My first screenshot of Shintar, who is now my main, shows her in her twenties, standing in front of the Dalaran bubble in Alterac. I don't think that it was a deliberate attempt to preserve its memory - at the time we didn't even know that it would disappear one and a half years later. I just thought that it looked pretty.
It was also interesting to see how the objects of my attention changed. At first I took a lot of pictures of myself on gryphons and hippogryphs for example - flying just seemed way too cool. Once I started raiding, images of boss fights and kills took over. In general I took a lot more screenshots during my first few months of playing than later on, which makes sense as everything was still shiny and new back then. Still, comparing the amount of screenshots I took in BC and WOTLK was an eye-opener. 436 during the former, 172 during the latter. Now, WOTLK still has a few months to go so its count might still go up a little more, but even so that's a huge difference.
I may not have liked WOTLK as much as I liked BC, but I certainly didn't play significantly less during this expansion, so what changed? Thinking about it, I believe that there are mainly three reasons for me not being as much into taking screenshots of the game as before:
The need for speed
I think WOTLK as a whole has made the game faster. I don't actually believe that this always equals easier or more casual-friendly, but it does mean that people have become twitchier and more impatient.
Five-mans are the most obvious example of this. I have quite a few screenshots from BC, showing people chatting away and being silly while in instances - and this wasn't always with friends either, as I did a fair bit of pugging with people I'd never see again even back then. But it took time to assemble the group, it took time to get everyone to the instance, it took time to plan pulls, it took time to dish out shards at the end of the run. Nowadays all these things are instant and you have to hit the ground running the very moment you port into a dungeon. No time for idle chit-chat or to take in the scenery.
The number of raid shots is what decreased the most however. For example I counted a grand total of five ICC screenshots in my folder: Rotface and Sindragosa dead on 25-man, my paladin standing in front of the Lich King, an Arthas kill shot, and what appeared to be a bit of a graphics bug on the Lich King fight. Considering that we've been raiding that same instance for over nine months now, that's practically nothing!
The armoury and achievements
Once upon a time, before people received in-game badges for killing bosses, they still considered these achievements something to memorise and show off. So they took screenshots of themselves standing in front of dead bosses, put them in their private photo albums and posted them on their guild websites.
I think achievements changed that... not that I think that nobody takes pictures anymore - hell, I just admitted that I still do it myself sometimes, but in a way there is a lot less pressure to do it. The game remembers all your achievements anyway, so you can always check your achievement panel to be reminded of the exact date when you took down the Lich King for the first time; and sites like WoWProgress read the data from the armoury and update their guild rankings no matter if you ever make an effort to tell anyone or not.
Normal vs. heroic
Finally, I think the division between normal and heroic modes has diminished the value of screenshots as well. On the whole I feel that normal mode raid bosses have been a fair bit easier to overcome this expansion than they used to be in BC. There are exceptions of course, but that's been my impression of the general rule. I'm not saying that this is all due to actual difficulty either - before we were able to extend raid IDs we had to reclear the whole instance every week just to get to the boss we were working on for example, which took up a lot of extra time. (And there was also Mount Hyjal, where you had to sit through eight waves of trash before every single boss attempt.) Still, the end result was that it took longer to kill things and it felt like you had overcome a bigger obstacle. In WOTLK quite a large number of bosses went down for my guild within a single night of trying or even after just a few attempts, so I didn't feel any particular urge to take pictures of these "great victories" - most felt shallow compared to how it used to be.
Hard modes are a different matter of course, but as far as screenshots go they have the problem that the bosses look exactly the same no matter which way they died, so unless you want to quickly press the screenshot button with your whole UI up the moment the achievement screen appears, you're out of luck. If you wait to take a picture of the boss's corpse afterwards, you won't actually be able to tell whether it was normal or heroic mode later on, not just from looking at the image anyway.
Have other people found themselves taking fewer screenshots this expansion as well? Or is it just me being a disappointed old fart?