In Chapter 1 of Gaming: “Gamic Action, Four Moments,” Alexander Galloway explores video games as a mass medium. He does this without delving specifically into the more creative comports of gaming or the social and specific significance of the playing of video games, but focusing on the semantic makeup of the video game design as a whole and play as medium-specific actions.
First, he explores the differences between video games and previous media. “If photographs are images, and films are moving images, then video games are actions” (2). This is not the same as “active audience” media, where an audience can apply their own subjectivities to media, such as an interpretation of a film. While films and images are passive in our intake of them, in that we cannot affect them directly in how they affect us, video games are an “action-based medium” which requires our input to engage us (3). This concept can be compared to children’s toys.
First, there is the image, the photograph—or in children’s toys, the action figure. Think specifically of the action figure that you are not supposed to play with, or one of the shoddier type you get in Happy Meals: the one that doesn’t have moveable bits, where you must invest your own interpretations into the toy. This could range from anything to fighting aliens to having a tea party, but the main point is that while the toy might look like Iron Man or Barbie, it doesn’t have to be played with in a certain way.