Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

We very often hear about the effects of the media. “Watching television makes you fat”, “violent videogames trigger violence” and “advertising causes pester power”, it is all familiar to us. But can we really blame all of this on the media?

Of course, there will always be someone saying that these things are proven, that the media does influence the audience, but are they really? There is always an experiment where experts, most likely psyhologists, try to reveal the truth between causes and effects, but how can they manage to prove anything? There is not any evidence, it does not exist. Well, the first saying that I mentioned is fairly easy to prove wrong actually, watching TV does not make you fat; it is the lifestyle which might come with it. Sitting in a couch all day while eating can very well have an effect like weight-gaining.

But videogaming and advertising towards children are tougher issues to come around. This is not because there are more evidence proving that they cause effects on an audience, it is because there have always been anxieties, or call it moral panics, connected to these issues. We have always been afraid of the media, blaming it for our children being violent, for having bad language, for dressing improperly and even for making us spend more money when we shop. It is like we have always needed someone to blame for our misbehavior, and of course, the media is the perfect source for that.

So why are we afraid of violent videogames and movies? Now this is when the we might call the media the bad guy. It is because we have heard too many stories telling us that videogames and movies are on of the reasons for violence. There are, it is sad to say, many examples of murders where the murderer seem to have been playing violent videogames or watched a violent video, and therefore we automatically conclude that “violent videogames trigger violence”! There is the Jamie Bulger case from 1993, the Martin Bryant case in 1996 and actually today some people suggest that the murders committed by Anders Breivik in 2011 were influenced by him playing World of warcraft and Call of Duty-Modern Warfare.

These kinds of stories promote moral panics, but they do not prove that it is the case, they are just assumptions. We should look at other causes before we jump to conclusions like how were their childhoods? How about neglect, abuse, alcoholism or bullying? This can be just as valid reasons for aggression as videogames! We learn by watching other people, by rolemodels, by being given moral codes from adults. This is more than a supposable cause for an effect. I am afraid that this is a harder source to blame though; it is tougher to point a finger at parents and society than at the media.

Advertisements

Have you ever watched a movie and discovered pieces in the plot which did not make sense? Like holes in the story, as if you are missing something to get the full perspective? When that has happened to me I have just rolled my eyes and thought that “they could at least made an effort not to make it so obvious”, but lately another explanation has come to mind; Transmedia!

It surprised me to learn that many movies and TV-shows are produced alongside with another movie or a game which works like an extension of the actual plot. The producer deliberately construct “openings” in the plot, and these “openings” makes the viewer think: “That was weird. Why did that happen? Or why did that not happen?” Only if you in addition to watch the movie also play the game, will this “opening” become explanatory to you. In one way this is kind of sad for people who is not gamers, or who does not spend much time online. To them these plots will always seem overstated, too deliberate or confusing because they never see the whole story, but for people who enjoys the online world and likes to play, this way of producing entertainment opens up a new world.

The industries basically create several entry-points for different groups of people. By creating a movie, a video game, a book, a TV-show etc. the industry can reach a bigger audience, not only the ones who like to for example play video games. Further, because of these “openings” in the stories, it also motivates the users to move between different segments; a person who started watching the TV-show might open up to play the video game to figure out the plot and so on. By creating a story over multiple mediums the users are invited to “play the game” and figure out these senseless pieces of the plot.

Photo: http://www.stallonezone.com/z091405.htm

I have to say I find the slogan of the series “Lost” very clever: “Everything happens for a reason.” That sort of explains that if there is something that happens which you do not understand, the answer to it is hidden somewhere else.

Is this the industries way of merging with the online world? If you look at it, the producers have here found a way to lure the users back into their world of entertainment by giving them exactly what they want. The users get the opportunity to participate, to collaborate and to contribute to the story by engaging in these games, both online and offline, they are invited to play in their most favorite environments like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on using collective intelligence to find the answers. On the other hand the industries are still in control of all the channels. All the content is still controlled and owned by them. Basically nothing has changed except the big conglomerates found a way to let us participate. There are two ways to look at it; either they found a way that opened up for users contribute freely, or they found a way to make us feel like that. One thing is for sure, transmedia is the new digital consolidation model for the big conglomerates.