WHY STUDY VIDEOGAMES? OCR stipulates that you must refer to at least 2 mediums in your exam. The mediums you will be analysing are film and videogames. The videogame industry has grown massively over the last 30 years into a global entertainment business. Videogames are clear examples of contemporary media and bare similarities to other media, notably film. However the main difference being that the players of videogames the audience and the ways videogames are played are very different to the ways in which other medias are consumed.
GENRE AND MASCULINITY Obviously our study of videogames needs to link to the representation of masculinity. Many videogames lend themselves well to this area, namely those of the Adventure and Beat ‘em up genres: Adventure The emphasis is on the combination of exploration and object-based puzzles. Progress is made through investigation, while the cerebral challenge of unlocking areas with gadgets, keys or similar items leads to a gradual exposition of the gamespace. Combat is often a significant part of the exploration. Beat ’emup Games with the emphasis on raw combat. The challenge is defeating opponents while avoiding as much damage as possible. While most beat ’em ups are confined to ‘arenas’, it is important to recognise scrolling beat ’em ups and other games that emphasise combat over other gameplay components.
GENRE AND MASCULINITY Generic Conventions: High level of violence Misogyny Casual violence Death Weak representation of women e.g. subject of the gaze, victims Representations of men are overtly masculine, remorseless, violent, thuggish Designed for boys
AUDIENCES In March 2008, the Entertainment Software Association declared that 62% of game players are male. Although the preconception is that adolescent boys are the core market, the Interactive Digital Software Association claims that the average age of a game player is 28. Most software has historically been designed with boys in mind and if we use the 2 genres of Adventure and Beat ‘em ups, this still seems to be the case. This is not to say that girls don’t like or indeed don’t play these types of games, but the evidence suggests that they have been designed by males for males:
MADE BY BOYS FOR BOYS? In a 2007 study by the Media Awareness Network, 83% of male characters were aggressive in comparison to 62% of female characters. 60% of female characters were represented in a sexualised way in comparison to 1% of male characters. Where female characters exist they are often relegated to the background. Most game developers are male and design games for themselves. Women represent slightly less than 12 percent of the video game industry, according to a 2005 report from the International Game Developers Association.