1920s attempt to explain how mass audiences might react to mass media
Audiences passively receive the information
Audiences do not process or challenge the data
so the information is unmediated .
The Hypodermic Needle Model
The Hypodermic Needle Model
As an audience, we are manipulated by the creators of media texts, and our behaviour can be easily changed by media-makers
Audience are passive and heterogenous
This model is quoted during moral panics
Two- Step Flow
More sophisticated – as mass media became more essential
Information is filtered through "opinion leaders"
Audience then mediate the information received directly from the media with the ideas and thoughts expressed by the opinion leaders, thus being influenced not by a direct process, but by a two step flow
The media is not God - social factors are also
Also called the limited effects paradigm
Uses & Gratifications
1960s – generation had grown up with TV
audiences make choices about what they do
when consuming texts
audiences made up of individuals who
actively consume texts for different
reasons and in different ways
Uses & Gratifications
Blumer and Katz (1974) state a text might be used for the following purposes:
Diversion - escape from everyday problems and routine.
Personal Relationships - using the media for emotional and other interaction, eg) substituting soap operas for family life
Personal Identity - finding yourself reflected in texts, learning behaviour and values from texts
Surveillance - Information which could be useful for living eg) weather reports, financial news, holiday bargains
The text is encoded by the producer, and decoded by the reader, and there may be major differences between two different readings of the same code
Producers can position the audience and thus create a certain amount of agreement on what the code means. This is known as a preferred reading
Moral Panic - Springhall
a moral panic occurs when the official or press reaction to a deviant social or cultural phenomenon is out of all proportion to the actual threat offered (1998)
Lots of studies have tried to identify a causal link between violent content in video games and subsequent violent behaviour in gameplayers.
Sceptics suggest that the approaches used were flawed and biased.
Can you think of any specific examples for games you have played of violent content?
What is the most violent content you have experienced in a game?
Pro- Effects Theory Anderson and Dill
study into violent videogames
found that real-life violent video game play was related to aggressive behaviour and delinquency
laboratory exposure to a graphically violent videogame increased aggressive thoughts and behaviour
They also claimed that the unique dangers of violent videogames included:
- the interactive nature of games
- the active participation involved in videogames
- the addictive nature of videogames
Anderson and Dill
Videogames have a strong effect on aggression, especially in children because:
games are highly engaging
games reward violent behaviour
games require the same actions to be repeated
Sceptics of Effects Theory
studies like these are flawed and biased
these studies are merely based on correlation methods rather than those that prove causality (Goldstein, 2000)
Mackay also questions the validity of past research studies and calls for more complete studies of the issue including approaches that reach beyond the limits posed by laboratory experiments (2002).
Sceptics of Effects Theory
Vessey furthers this viewpoint by stating the exact contribution that videogames play in shaping children's behaviour is virtually impossible to isolate when considered from broader intra-personal and environmental contexts (2000).
Can we suggest any effective research methods for establishing the effects of video games on their players?
Effects Theory and Moral Panic
Overall, media effects theory has a long tradition within the cultural studies school of thought.
Springhall suggests that people are fearful of new technologies, such as videogames, because they challenge existing power and governmental processes. This is especially because they are embraced by the young who are a significant audience for violent and sexual images (1998: 2). This viewpoint may explain the eagerness of certain groups to understand the effects of videogames, especially if they are seen as sources of cultural subversion. Hence, effects theory has played a role in many moral panics over specific video games, censorship regimes and policy decisions.
Manhunt by Rockstar Games, was released at the end of 2003 and has become one of 2004 biggest selling titles. It has been described as one of the most visceral and intense videogames ever made. The objective of the game is to escape from a prison and in doing so to kill as many people as possible for the omnipresent narrators snuff film. Outrage about the games content as well as its extremely realistic images surrounded its release. In July 2004, a boy was killed in Britain by another boy who was said to be obsessed by the game, prompting further outrage and controversy. The media effects debate was also stirred up again by this event.
Generally speaking, when someone comes to me and blames the problems of our nation’s youth on video games, I tell them they are misinformed. When they bring up “Grand Theft Auto” and refer to it as a “murder simulator”, I casually explain that the game implements one of the best scripts this side of Hollywood, taking cues from such ground-breaking movies as “Scarface” to “Menace II Society”. The games are voiced by such noted actors as Ray Loitta and Samuel L. Jackson. The average gamer these days is well into their late twenties even by the worst estimates and these games are distributed explicitly for an adult audiences. Most retailers, especially retailers primarily devoted to video games, know better than to sell to children: it can cause them both financial and political problems. As such, these games are not murder simulators, but well written stories intended for adults. The fact that they include death is roughly as meaningful as mentioning that “Casino” includes murder, and more f-bombs than I used after falling off a three-story building.
Then comes a game like Manhunt, and suddenly defending it becomes a bit harder. Created by the same company as “Grand Theft Auto”, the concept behind the game is to get into the mind of someone who commits horrendous, unspeakable acts. This is not mindless killing for the sake of killing, unlike the abysmal flop “State of Emergency” which literally was nothing more than gunning down people in a mall. I should probably mention that Rockstar also produced “State of Emergency”. But, whereas “State of Emergency” was rather cartoony in nature and felt about as real as punching a blow-up clown, “Manhunt” is quite the grisly game. As the title of “Manhunt” might suggest, you play as a hunted man. The only way to escape your would-be killers is to kill them first. The producers like to refer to it as a work of art, to show the fall of a man trapped in a situation beyond his means and what he will do to survive. While the original “Manhunt” was acknowledged as not only being believable but almost sympathetic in its portrayal of its anti-hero, “Mahunt 2″ goes more for the blurring of reality through the eyes of a madman. This only furthers the “murder simulator” reference, as if it were desensitizing most people. One reviewer, as seen in the video below, makes note of the fact that this sort of mindless violence is more the area of teenagers who find this sort of gory social commentary interesting, whereas most rational adults would likely look at something like this and recoil. (Note, some foul language in this review, may not be safe for work)