Action games

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Overview and common mechanics

Action games are games that focus on fast-paced on-screen activity. The genre is very broad, and can include subgenres such as fighting games, first-person shooters and platformers. These games require players to quickly read and react to the game state. Classic arcade games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders fall cleanly into this genre.

Like other video game genres, games that include "action" elements frequently also include elements of other genres, such as leveling up a character (role-playing genre) or solving puzzles (puzzle genre). For the purposes of TEGD, we are distinguishing between "pure" action games and games featuring action-based mechanics, but which fall more accurately into the hybrid action-adventure game genre.

Educational potential

Action games are not the most obvious fit for educational use. They demand strong hand-eye coordination and can be quite frustrating for novice players. Action gameplay is also frequently themed around violent conflict.

However, some action games may have potential for use in classrooms. Crayon Physics Deluxe is a puzzle-based platform action game in which drawings created by the player take on physical properties within the game world. Such a game could serve as an introduction into basic computer skills and basic [physics] concepts for young children.

Action games are also beginning to tell more complex stories, which may make them interesting for use with older populations. For example, Bioshock, an M-rated first-person shooter released in 2007, received rave reviews in part for its story about a failed Objectivist utopia. TEGD editor Max Lieberman has proposed that the game could taught alongside Ayn Rand's novels to allow students to engage with Rand's politics and ethics in a multi perspectival an multimodal way.[1][2][3]


  1. Lieberman, Max. Research proposal: Video games as texts in college English courses. Course paper, unpublished. 2009. Retrieved from
  2. Lieberman, Max. Teaching comparative literature with BioShock: Part 1. Boom Culture. Blog. November 2009.
  3. Lieberman, Max. Teaching comparative literature with BioShock: Part 2. Boom Culture. Blog. December 2009.
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