I'm struggling with the terminology surrounding different types of 3rd person camera. What are the common 3rd-person camera types called? What are some notable examples of their use?

Here's what I think I've got so far:

  • 3rd Person Fixed: This type seems glued to a position behind the character. The camera and character always rotate together.

    Example: Gears of War

  • 3rd Person Free: The camera can be rotated independently of the character, so the character can continue walking in one direction while the camera is freely rotated around them.

    Example: Assassin's Creed series

  • 3rd Person Fixed-Free: This is a combination of the two above. The camera can rotate independently while the character is stationary. However, when the character starts moving, they will move in the camera's direction (not the character's direction) and rotate accordingly. Also, if the camera is rotated while the character is moving, the character will also rotate with it, as with the fixed type above.

    Example: Max Payne

Am I right?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Anko please fix your fixing of the word "fixed" above :) \$\endgroup\$
    – GamerDev91
    Feb 25, 2014 at 7:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I saw some improvements, so I fixed the "fixed" along with them! By the way, did you know anyone can edit? If it's your own post or you have >2k reputation, the edit happens right away. (Otherwise, it'll first be reviewed by someone over 2K rep.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Anko
    Feb 25, 2014 at 12:37

1 Answer 1


There are no standard definitions for all the various ways in which a 3rd person camera can behave.

Your attempts at definitions are reasonable, but it would also be perfectly acceptable for a camera called a "3rd person free" camera to be entirely unconstrained to the player's location and a "3rd person fixed" camera to be one that is fixed on the player's location but can freely orbit around it.

Each game or game studio will likely use their own variation on these names.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ and don't forget "fixed" in the sense that the camera doesn't move at all, and the view simply switches between cameras (or rather camera positions) while you walk around. I'm thinking like Resident Evil. (actually maybe this is what you mean by "free camera is entirely unconstrained to the player's location", which goes to show just how non-standard this free/fixed terminology is) \$\endgroup\$
    – jhocking
    Feb 24, 2014 at 20:00

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