Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

A media industry perspective on digital games

531 views

Published on

The paper explores how media industry studies can be a useful framework for analyzing digital games from a media and cultural studies perspective. It addresses issues like production practices, distribution modalities and a comparative perspective on non-Western game industries.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

A media industry perspective on digital games

  1. 1. Folie 1 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Dr. Stefan Werning (Media Studies, University of Bayreuth) A media industry perspective on digital games. Between theory and practice(s)
  2. 2. Folie 2 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Production (Studies)
  3. 3. Folie 3 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Digital games in the context of production studies • Network structures in digital game production • Functions of game jams for the independent games scene (Guevara-Villalobos 2011) • Foucaultian analyses of media production – Governmentality: political economy – Disciplinary power: ‚Managing‘ guests in game shows (Carpentier 2001) • An ANT perspective on media production (Teurlings 2013) – Technological and economic phenomena as ‚actors‘ Guevara-Villalobos, Orlando. „Cultures of Independent Game Production: Examining the Relationship between Community and Labour.“ Think Design Play: The fifth international conference of the Digital Research Association (DIGRA). 2011. [online]. Teurlings, Jan. "Unblackboxing Production. What Media Studies Can Learn from Actor-Network Theory." After the Break. Television Theory Today. Eds. de Valck, Marijke and Jan Teurlings. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013. 101-16. Print.
  4. 4. Folie 4 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Digital games in the context of production studies: The ludic quality of game production • Game production as an intrinsically playful process • The creation of Half-Life – The Cabal as a set of ‚rules of play‘ – Self-imposed constraints and ‚remixing‘ challenges – Design metrics as ‚goals‘ • Game elements within agile software production – Innovation games (Buy a feature) – Planning poker Birdwell, Ken. "The Cabal: Valve’s Design Process for Creating Half-Life." Gamasutra. The Art & Business of Making Games (1999). Web.
  5. 5. Folie 5 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 A software studies perspective on digital game technology • Conceptual bias ‚embedded‘ into the interface and workflows – Ready-made code for first-person shooters • EXAMPLE: Asset marketplaces as ‚aesthetic eco-systems‘ • EXAMPLE: RPG Maker – Fostered the differentiation and subversion of Japanese RPGs as a genre – Use of standardized art assets diverts attention from audiovisual detail to procedural rhetoric • To The Moon, Always Sometimes Monsters
  6. 6. Folie 6 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 A software studies perspective on digital game technology II • Issues of representing sex and ethnicity in customizing avatars – Technological rationales • Different texture layers • Parametrized colors for skin, hair, eyes etc. • Modular meshes • Brushes drawn onto the texture – Cultural rationales • Normalization (e.g. through default settings) • Institutionalizes representational stereotypes in the form of presets • Suggests an ‚objectifying‘ stance • Imposes a specific (male) gaze
  7. 7. Folie 7 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 A software studies perspective on digital game technology III • Institutionalizing new perceptions of older media formats (Manovich) • Example: Wwise – Loops and triggers – Grouping layers by function • e.g. percussion or layered strings – Parametrizable acoustic parameters • Dynamic equalizing, simulated acoustic space (e.g. digitally created reverb)
  8. 8. Folie 8 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 ‚Game pollution‘ • Abundance – Cf. digital ‚culture of plenitude‘ (Jay D. Bolter) – Caused by a multiplicity of production tools and principles like content reuse • Describes both the ‚symptom‘ and the corresponding reaction – Symptom • Produces cognitive overload and stress • Leads to a lower overall usage intensity • Paradox of Choice (Schwartz, 2004) – Reaction • ‚Analytical‘ playing style • Buying/browsing rather than playing • Partially ‚automating‘ the reception – Shutting out ‚noise‘ • Implications – Design challenge for ‚serious games‘ Schwartz, Barry. "The paradox of choice: Why less is more." New York: Ecco (2004).
  9. 9. Folie 9 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Distribution
  10. 10. Folie 10 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Transitioning from goods to services • Epistemic shift – Fostered by streaming services, real-time metrics and upgrades/DLC – Encourages distinct usage practices • Comparable to perceptions of early film ‚as a service‘ – Before standardization through the MPPC • Comparable to Second Screen effects on television series – Live discussions on Twitter Thompson, Clive. "How Social Media Turns Creative Pursuits into ‘Live’ Performances." Wired Magazine 2012: 35. Print.
  11. 11. Folie 11 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Digital games in the context of distribution studies: Games as ‚platforms‘ • Digital games are increasingly turned into socio-technical systems – Cf. (Niederer/Van Dijck 2010) – E.g. tie-in apps or Youtube uploads from PlayStation3 games • Paratextual activity – Games become ‚eco-systems‘ within the digital attention economy (Herbert A. Simon) – ‚Let‘s play‘ videos, walk-throughs, parodies • Games increasingly act as highly specific social networks – Accelerate the fragmentation and functional differentiation of social networks Niederer, Sabine and José van Dijck. "Wisdom of the Crowd or Technicity of Content? Wikipedia as a Sociotechnical System." New Media & Society 12.8 (2010): 1368-87. Print.
  12. 12. Folie 12 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Distribution as a mediatized process: Crowdfunding • Set between production, distribution and monetization • Performativity in Kickstarter campaigns • Kickstarter campaigns as narratives – Exposition, rising action, climax, denouement – Require emplotment (White 1992) of the production process • Self-Narrativization and self-historicization • Create a recognizable and retellable story White, Hayden. "Historical emplotment and the problem of truth." Probing the limits of representation 38 (1992).
  13. 13. Folie 13 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Distribution as a mediatized process: Remediation • Remediating distribution formats • Special edition releases – Acknowledges aesthetic and historical relevance: cf. the Criterion collection – ‚Director‘s cut‘ – Bonus features on DVDs Distelmeyer, Jan. "Spielräume. Videospiele, Kino Und Die Intermediale Architektur Der Film-Dvd." Spielformen Im Spielfilm. Zur Medienmorphologie des Kinos nach der Postmoderne. Eds. Leschke, Rainer and Jochen Venus. Bielefeld: transcript, 2007. 389-416. Print.
  14. 14. Folie 14 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Distribution as a mediatized process: Game bundles • Bundles epistemically link games to music, films and e- books • Epistemic connection to cereal „fun packs“ – Cf. (Bogost 2012) – Marks the games as a „special treat [...] to be repeated only occasionally“ • Reenact a form of ‘patronage’ – Alters the consumer-producer relation – Consumers identify with the producer’s perspectiveBogost, Ian. "What Is a Game Bundle?" Gamasutra. The Art & Business of Making Games (2012). Web.
  15. 15. Folie 15 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 A Culturally Comparative Perspective
  16. 16. Folie 16 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Bootlegs as a transitional phenomenon • Distinct places, practices and ‚cultural‘ specificities – Chinese bootleg stores in South Africa – „There was some official PAL support, but it was negligible and the cool kids imported” • Symbiosis between formal and ‚informal‘ ecomies – Create a sustainable and visible community • Encourage the rise of regional journals, events and eventually developer networks – Informal Economies as transitory or ‚third spaces‘
  17. 17. Folie 17 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Technology in a critical, culturally comparative perspective on digital games • Transnational distribution reaccentuates the question of cultural specificity • Technological and economic constraints on expressing culture in video games • Under Ash (Dar al-Fikr, 2001) – Cf. (Galloway 2004) – Unforgiving gameplay allegedly ‚signifies‘ social realism Galloway, Alexander R. "Social Realism in Gaming." Game Studies. The International Journal of Computer Game Research 4.1 (2004). Print.
  18. 18. Folie 18 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Playfulness in game production • Player typologies (Tuunanen and Hamari, 2012) – Killer, Achiever, Explorer, Socializer (Bartle) • Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta – The ‚achiever‘ mentality • One of the first games for the PlayStation 3 developed using Unity 3D • Pushing technical and administrative boundaries • Demonstrating competitiveness in terms of technological and design ‚standards‘ – The ‚explorer‘ mentality • Mapping out and adapting the Uncharted franchise • Industrial auteur theory – Cf. (Caldwell 2008) on film production – Implies a sense of ‘agency’ Tuunanen, Janne, and Juho Hamari. "Meta-synthesis of player typologies." Proceedings of Nordic Digra 2012 Conference: Games in Culture and Society, Tampere, Finland. 2012. Caldwell, John Thornton. Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008. Print.
  19. 19. Folie 19 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Performativity in transcultural game production • Technological appropriation – Unlicensed use of the CryEngine for Special Force 2 by the Hezbollah – Early Indian filmmakers using British equipment to re-tell their own history and mythology • ‘Activist’ potential of crowdfunding campaigns – Kickstarter campaign for 1979 Revolution • "I think everybody has a revolutionary inside them...” • Developer was marked as a spy in Iran • Pledge tiers use the same semantics
  20. 20. Folie 20 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 ‚New media‘ formats as a form of cultural expression • Cultural self-assertion – Raja Harishchandra (1913) – Ashoka (2003, discontinued) • Political and cultural instrumentalization – US-Army funding program for ‚patriotic‘ movies such as Pearl Harbor – Special Force (2003) – Egypt Game Jam
  21. 21. Folie 21 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Outlook
  22. 22. Folie 22 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 A historically comparative perspective on the digital games industry • Interplay between academics, reflective practitioners and an increasingly self-conscious press • Exchange of metaphors – Film • »Sculpture in motion« (Vachel Lindsay, author) • »Music of light« (Abel Gance, director) • »Painting in movement« (Leopold Survage, painter) • »Architecture in movement« (Élie Faure, art historian) – Games • „Chemistry of game design“ (Daniel Cook) • „Narrative architecture“ (Henry Jenkins) • „Petri nets“ (Natkin/Vega) • Passage (2007) and Gravitation (2008) as ‚Kuleshov experiments‘ for games?
  23. 23. Folie 23 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Independent game production as ‚collective simulation‘ • Simulation through feedback loops – Production – Feedback – Contextualization – Remaking • Defining through constant variation – Sophie Houlden, The Linear RPG – Modding and genre mash-ups • Dependent on production and distribution modalities – Archiving and forking (Git Hub) – Online communities (Gamejolt) – Game jams used for making sense of new technologies such as Oculus Rift and the Ouya
  24. 24. Folie 24 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Media industry awareness • Economic differentiation, particularly within the digital games industry – Users increasingly interpret and ‚understand‘ digital media content as a ‚product‘ • In a second step, some users already practically apply that knowledge – Theorycrafting – Selling user-generated content • ‚Economic literacy‘ trickles down into new media use in general
  25. 25. Folie 25 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015
  26. 26. Folie 26 von 25AP New Media and Game Studies – Utrecht, 01.04.2015 Outlook: Economic literacy • Runs across several categories of „digital literacies“ – Language-based – Information-based – Connections-based – (Re-)design-based • Remaking, remixing • Examples – Improvised economies in early MMORPGs – Economic game design (F2P, DLC etc.) – Immaterial economies such as gift economies • ‘Economic literacy’ – Applies both to ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ – Using marketplace dynamics as ‚rule systems‘ to address real-world problems Hockly, Nicky. "Digital literacies." ELT journal 66.1 (2012): 108-112. Dobson, Teresa, and John Willinsky. "Digital literacy." The Cambridge handbook of literacy (2009): 286-312.

×