This article looks at the specificity of the image within contemporary video games and examines what might be thought of as the distinct qualities of a game gaze that is different from the cinema gaze. This necessitates a consideration of the specific temporality of video game play where the aesthetic is generated in a maelstrom of anticipation, speculation, and action. Video games prioritize the participation of the player as he or she plays, and that player always apprehends the game as a matrix of future possibility. The focus, always, is not on what is before the player or the “what happens next” of traditionally unfolding narrative but on the “what happens next if I” that places the player at the center of experience as its principle creator, necessarily engaged in an imaginative act, and always orientated toward the future.
Abstract from Barry Atkins’ What Are We Really Looking at?: The Future-Orientation of Video Game Play in the 2006 edition of Games and Culture.