Audiences and videogames


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Audiences and videogames

  1. 1. “videogame fanatics are like cocaine addicts who get an instant rush from an electronic fix” (quoted in Newman 2001, 62-63).
  2. 2. AIMS  By the end of the session students should be able to:  Recall media effects theories  Demonstrate understanding of audience
  3. 3. Audience
  4. 4. BBFC Audience Research 2006  Research to improve understanding of what players enjoy about video games, and to explain their preferences for particular games  Conducted in September and October 2006
  5. 5. Overall Findings:  The BBFC discovered that younger gamers are influenced to play titles such as Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt by peer pressure – and that negative press coverage of violent titles significantly increased their uptake.  However, the firm noted that younger players often find violence in games upsetting – particularly when they play games rated for adults.
  6. 6. BBFC: Research into audiences and games  Findings:  female games players tend to prefer ‘strategic life simulation’ games like The Sims and puzzle games  male players favour first ‘person shooter’ and sports games and are much more likely to become deeply absorbed in the play  There is also concern that in some games wickedness prevails over innocence  The quality of graphics attracts comment and good graphics clearly contribute importantly to gamers’ enjoyment
  7. 7. BBFC: Research into audiences and games  As graphics have improved, wounds and suffering have become more real looking, along with weapons and scenery.  Some gamers seem to feel a bit sheepish, looking back, at the amount of time they have spent playing. The sense of achievement games deliver is often fleeting.
  8. 8. BBFC: Research into audiences and games  Which console do gamers prefer?  main differentiator appears to be the quality of the graphics  PCs and the Xbox 360 are preferred by those who want to play games with others over the internet  The Nintendo Wii control is said to be modelled on a TV remote in the hope that this familiarity will make it easier to master and thereby make gaming more accessible to older audiences.
  9. 9. BBFC: Research into audiences and games  Why do people play games?  Escape from reality  Sense of achievement  Gamers claim it is mentally stimulating  Gamers are aware that the violence in the game does not reflect real life.
  10. 10. Impact of Videogames on Education and Health  Some games receive ‘negative press’ or create a ‘moral panic’.  When looking for someone to blame for social problems among young people, videogames provide an easy scapegoat.  Videogames can be blamed for:  Falling levels of literacy  Obesity  Anti social behaviour and violence.
  11. 11. Shocking headlines
  12. 12. Videogame violence  Videogames have been blamed as one of the causes of terrible gun crimes like the shooting that took place at the Columbine School in the US in 1999. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, both pupils at the school, killed 13 people and wounded 23 others before using the guns on themselves.
  13. 13. Example: The Godfather game  The player in order to progress must coerce, corrupt and bully to gain ‘respect’.  The player needs to develop skills in working out whether violence is required or not.  The graphic violence contained in the game is a means to an end and thus legitimised to some extent.  But is the player likely to act more violent in the real world after playing the game?
  14. 14. McDougall and Duncan (2008)  Conducted research into what games primary school students played.  They said  Mortal Kombat (18)  STA: San Andreas (18)  Harry Potter (3+)  Simpsons (7+)  Resident Evil 4 (16)
  15. 15. Research continued…  16/18 rated games were owned by older siblings  There is still evidence that the classification system is ineffective in gatekeeping access to such games.
  16. 16. Videogames and media effects theory  Desensitisation – the more we are exposed the less shocked we are.  Copycat theory – people copy what they see (James Bulger murder, Columbine killings)  Uses and Gratifications theory – how do audiences use the game for their needs  Ethnography – how audience members are situated before and by texts.
  17. 17. Theory  A lot of theory is based on studies of young children and teenagers.  Most gamers are NOT teenage boys.  Is the immersion of the game passive or active?  If passive then this is suggested that this could cause ‘harm’.
  18. 18. Junk Culture?  The idea that children are being fed a ‘diet of junk media’  ‘Behaviours such as videogame use compete for time otherwise spent on physical activity.’ (Mota et al, 2008)  Players may become immersed/engrossed/’addicted’ to the game and spend too much time doing this one activity.
  19. 19. Gaming and Literacy  By playing too many games our time is being taken away from ‘traditional forms’ of literacy.  Texting, social networking and game playing are classed as ‘illegitimate’ forms of textual practice.  Students may struggle with the written word.  Some argue visual literacy is equally important as the printed word (multimodal literacy)
  20. 20. Tanya Byron Report  Published a report in 2008  The review was to look at the needs of children and young people.  “My research showed that it is very difficult to tell what effect playing certain video games may have on children. There is some research that suggests violent games may make some children feel more aggressive in the short-term, but there is no proof that these effects last a long time or make violent adults.” Tanys Byron
  21. 21. Tanya Byron Report  Recommendations:  Just one set of classification symbols for video games in the UK.  Advertising and video games businesses should work together to make sure adverts for games (posters, television, online etc.) do not include material that may not be suitable, and that they are not aimed at those to young to play the game being advertised.  game consoles should have good, clear safety information set out for parents
  22. 22. Classification: BBFC  “Most games in the UK are classified under a pan- European voluntary system, but those with adult content are required to come to us. We take this part of our responsibilities under the Video Recordings Act very seriously. Our examiners actually play the games for up to five hours, assessing all levels of the games and considering all the key issues. Players and the parents of young players can be sure that all aspects of the game have been taken into account before reaching a classification. We require key issues to be flagged and aids such as cheat codes to be supplied to us. We take context into account, and examine works in a way which is as thorough and penetrating as anywhere in the world”
  23. 23. Lost reality?  What effect do games such as ‘Second Life’ and ‘The Sims’ have on our human identity?
  24. 24. Healthy experience  Some games are promoted to improve your health.  Brain training and sight training  Physical sports games (Wii Sports, Snowboarding etc)  ‘edutainment’ games
  25. 25. Long Road Media   BBC report into gaming habits – see link  GTA Info  Key terms
  26. 26. Case study  Consider the issues raised and discussed.  How do these impact upon your game?  How does your chosen game address the negative publicity which video games receives?