Games vs. Other Media

Both Galloway and Eskelinen consider games as being different from film and other media, with several different categories. Eskelinen makes a point that the definition of games as “interactive narratives, procedural stories or remediated cinema” is conceptually weak. For myself, I think that my definition of video games before reading more about them was something like “interactive, remediated play,” which combines some of these conceptually weak definitions. In fact, Galloway stresses that his book avoids the word “interactive” in favor of “action-based medium,” because of the active audience theory that claims that audiences interpret the work; the action-based medium, on the other hand, restructures itself. The goal is configuration through interpretation; in this sense, “action-based” is the more appropriate term. Another difference between narrative and games that Eskelinen points out is that games have one necessary time scheme, from the beginning towards winning, while narrative invents time schemes in terms of other time schemes. Galloway’s and Eskelinen’s ideas both serve to denounce the term “interactive narrative” as a suitable representation or idea of what video games are or are supposed to be.

Eskelinen also speaks about the differences in terms of configuration and interpretation. While literary texts have the dominant user function of interpretation, games have one of configuration. This idea coincides with Galloway’s use of “action-based medium” in place of interactive medium. Also, the discussion about the diegetic and non-diegetic elements of games versus media such as film bring more distinctions between the two into the picture, mainly because of the way that the user can manipulate while playing games but cannot while watching movies. While reading about the specific diegetic and non-diegetic elements, I have to say that I was confused about the various distinctions made, especially about GAME OVER. Why is it a non-diegetic machine act, if it depends upon the user’s actions?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Games vs. Other Media

  1. Charlotte Moore says:

    I had trouble accepting the Galloway’s differentiations between video games and other media. I think the interpretive process required in reading a book, say, is quite similar and relevant to playing a video game as well and don’t necessarily agree with Galloway’s idea that “action” is the distinguishing element. In reading, there is also a similar choice to interact with the material. His argument is that video games are action-based because they unfold based on our own decisions. And yet, when I read Dracula I can search for a theme of Christian religion, or female sexuality in the Victorian era, and my decision to concentrate on either of these will likely change my perspective of the novel. It is in this way that we are constantly interacting with these classical cultural media in the same way that we interact with video games.

Leave a Reply