Wednesday, October 13, 2010

BBC article which supports the idea of violent video games being a serious concern

Interesting article on how violent video games are worse than porn

This article could be used in my investigation, as it gives an opinion to video games and how they condone violence and accept thier advocation of it. The article compares video games to porn, as the games are too explicit and do affect behaviour

Ron Jeremy says violent video games 'worse' than porn

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Screenshot from Modern Warfare 2, Activision/Blizzard

Mr Jeremy hit out at games like Modern Warfare 2

This article gives an insight into video games, as it comes pornogrphy with video games and the fact that violent video games have a negative effect on children.

It is inferred from the article that "video games have a much bigger negative influence on kids than pornography", a leading porn star has claimed.

The article refers to experts in the field of electronics, as well as the general public. An example of this is Jeremy, who stated in the Great Porn Debate during the Consumer Electronics Show, CES, in Las Vegas, that "parents should be more worried about the harmful effects of such games".

Though, Mr Jeremy took time away from the Adult Entertainment Expo, which takes place in Las Vegas at the same time as the annual tech fest, to speak out on behalf of his profession and promote some practical tools.

Jeremy backed up his comments by refering to studies on video games and vettoed the public concern of violence in video games ."Studies have found that violent video games are a much bigger negative influence on kids." However, his remarks caused quite a stir in the games world, with gamers blaming him for being 'ignorant'.

The outburst by Mr Jeremy caused a stir in the gaming world , with gaming blogs and high figures in the gaming industry, criticising Jeremy for attacking video games and compring it to pornography, which is another public concern.

"It's rather hypocritical behaviour and it doesn't speak up for pornography's merits by merely saying "something else is worse, don't look at us.

"Very disappointing behaviour from a man who should know better," said Jim Sterling of gaming news blog

Though, some figures in the gaming industry seemed to advocate Jeremy's comments, as he felt that children would become more impressionable, if they played violent video games. Andy Chalk at video gaming site said Mr Jeremy's remarks cannot be completely ignored.

"While I do think he's (Mr Jeremy) working from a platform of ignorance, I'm not quite as certain that the sentiment is entirely wrong.

"I wouldn't want my kids (the hypothetical ones, that is) playing Modern Warfare 2 or becoming overly familiar with Ron's body of work, but is it really reasonable to say that one is significantly worse than the other?" asked Mr Chalk.

Mr Jeremy also urged parents to play their part in preventing children from accessing adult websites.

He said the industry already does all it can to protect youngsters.

"Parents can block this stuff and need to stop blaming porn for a bad case of parenting," Mr Jeremy told BBC News.

Analysis of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare2 is one of the most successful games in the Call of Duty series . Upon its release, the game sold approximately 4.7 million copies worldwide in 24 hours and was announced by the institution, Activision, that it sold 20 million copies worldwide. The game was developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision, which is best known for producing successful video games such as True Crime: Streets of LA (2003) and True Crime: New York City (2005), Call of Duty series (2003–), DJ Hero (2009) and many others.

Like most action video games, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a first person shooter game, where the player can play in a range of modes such as Campaign, Cooperative and Multiplayer. As well as this, the players can fight in different terrains such as Afghan and can experience new bases and unlock secret moves or items. The game is primarily aimed at a teenage audience, comprised for the C1/D and E socio economic group. Also, the game is aimed at succeeders and explorers as they get a chance to experience war at first hand and also fit in with others. As suggested by the Hypodermic Needle theory, the game injects players with a sense of violence, as they fight and kill other soldiers, which may raise moral panic amongst adults, as their children are absorbed in violence and gain negative representations of war. Call of Duty is constructed in order to signify the reality of war, giving players gratifications out of reckless killing.

In many ways, the option of multiplayer makes the game more successful and unique, as players can play with friends or with international players via the online broadband connection. It was revealed that the total revenue from first day sales in the U.S. and the UK was $310 million, making Modern Warfare 2 the biggest entertainment launch in history, surpassing (in revenue) its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto IV. Activision also claims that Modern Warfare 2 had 8 million players online within the first five days, making it the largest 'army' of players in the world.

Close analysis of Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2 gameplay

In this clip from Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2, the use of the over the shoulder shot connotes secrecy and surveillance, as the audience are more introspective, as they are in the soldier's position. The use of the deigitic sound of the other players connotes how there is player interaction, as the audience have the option of playing in multiplayer and as a team. In this clip, the use of the snowy mountain setting signifies how the soldiers often fight in treacherous conditions. The use of natural light connotes how the fight is in the day, though the game also allows players to fight during the night.

The use of commands on the screen signifies how the player is in the role of a soldier and has to perform duties , such as capturing the flag, in order to support his team. The game itself in non linear narrative, as the player has the chance to play again if they die. Moreover, the tracking shot of the soldier, allows the audience to identify with the soldier, as we see him on a journey to capture the flag. The use of interchangable weapons as props gives the audience a choice , as they can shoot long distance missles and have knifes and rifles to kill opponents at closer distance. Consequently, the audience can gain sadistic pleasures out of killing opponents as well as seeing them blowing up stuff.

The use of diegetic sound of the soldier's footprints in the snow connote fear and suspense, as the soldier is vulnerable to any counter attacks by the opposition. Whats more, the chinking sound of the soldier changing weapons signifies the movement of the soldier, as he is accurately represented as a stereotypical soldier who wears camouflage, a helmet and hiking boots. By using parallel sound of gunshots, and explosions, the action escalates, as the soldier in this clip is shot, as signified with the blood on screen. Though, the use of diegetic sound of breathing adds reality to the scenario, as the player is wounded.

Interestungly, the quick panning and diegetic sound of other players and gunshots connotes how the battle has commenced, as the male audience are immersed in war and get a chance to identify with soldiers, as they get a chance to infiltrate the opponents and try to claim victory. Though the non deigetic sound of the heartbeat connotes anxiety and life, as the soldier is miraculously recovering from being shot.

The use of a circle against the black frame signifies the zoom which is used when aiming at a target. What is most insightful, is the fact that players are rewarded for the way they kill, as signified with the title 'Killcam- Longshot (Nice kill from a distance ) (+50). Therefore, players can gain gratifications out of killing, as they are rewarded for thier killing, which amounts to a 'kill streak' , where points are given for different ways of killing.

Alongside the tracking shot, the diegetic sound of explosions connote the reality of war and its unpredictability. Alongside the violence, the parallel sound of other soldiers speaking in Pashto offers an experience of war. In some ways, the hand held camera movement follows the soldier's movements, thus allowing the audience to follow the soldier wherever he goes. As a player is killed, the sound of a hammer connotes suddeness, which is dramatic.

Analysis of violent video games

For my Critical Investigation, I have decided to focus on violent video games and how they affect the audience. In this post, I have selected 2 main texts; Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty Modern Warfare which will be integral within my investigation, as they have been criticised for their violent behaviour and affects on the male teenage audience.

Analysis of Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City Stories

Close analysis from beginning upto 3:00 minutes

Grand Theft Auto:Liberty City Stories is one of a number of successful games in the Grand Theft Auto series. The game is set in a fictional setting called Liberty City, which is largely based on modern day New York City.

Grand Theft Auto is a sandbox style, non linear game, where the players are presented with challenges that can be completed in a number of different sequences. Unlike other video games, Grand Theft Auto is a less linear game will allows greater player freedom. Effectively, the game allows the player to have a choice between paths to victory; with extra unlockable challenges and subplots giving the player more gratifications out of playing the game.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, revolves around the protagonist, Niko Bellic, a war veteran from an unspecified country in Eastern Europe. Bellic comes to the United States in search of the American Dream, but quickly becomes entangled in a world of gangs, crime, and corruption. Though, Gran Theft Auto is unique to other games, as it is composed of elements from driving games and third-person shooters, and features "open-world" gameplay that gives players more control over their playing experience. In reference to the Uses and Gratifications theory, the game offers the audience a chance of escapism, as they can control a player and make him do unorthodox and unlwafful things which would never be allowed in society.

In this clip from the game, the audience can identify with Niko Bellic, as they can control his actions and make him do outlandish and immoral actions such as murdering, theft and can make him kill innocent civilians. The use of low key lighting connotes how crime is more illustrious and is carried out at night. As well as this, the use of long shot is used to connote how the protagonist is able to kill in a open setting. Though the consistent close up shot is used, as Bellic aims at the hot dog seller and pummels him to death. As a result, the audience are able to get sadistic pleasures out of killing as it is perfectly acceptable in the Dystopian setting of Liberty City.

The use of action codes are signified in a close up , as Bellic targets the seller gingerly walking off, the diegitic sound of the gunfire connotes sadistic violence, as the protagonist shows no mercy in his killing. In many ways, other audiences may have oppositional readings toward Bellic, as he is seemingly constructed as the Proppian hero in the game, yet may also be represented as the Proppian villian as he carries out such atrocities, such as murder and reckless violence. As Bellic moves, the tracking shot focuses around him which connotes how the audience is following Bellic and are identifying with him. Though, the use of zooms are increasingly signified in this clip, as the use of parallel sound of the police sirens connote how the city is protected by vigilant police. The binary opposition of the police versus crime is signified throughout the game, as crime is infested in the city, thus making the police active in infiltrating crime.

Though, the protagonist is still able to commit crime, as the wanted level continues to rise, as the protagonist keeps on committing offences. The use of the gun and the baseball bat as props seemingly make the protagonist more powerful, as Bellic is stereotyped as the rough, masculine European who is more aggressive in terms of his actions and dialect. In reference to the hypodermic needle theory, the players seem to be injected with the belief that violence is casual and satisfactory, as they are allowed to kill and commit crime. Consequently, the game would result in moral panic, as audiences may feel that the institution, Rockstar Games condones violence, which may result in more people commiting crime in society.

Whats more, the use of the non diegitic sound of the police call signifies how the police is more threatening. However, the use of the 360 degrees panning and close up shot of Bellic aiming at the police connotes, how he is invincible and powerful, as he can use violence as a means of reacting and is able to annihalite the police, resulting in the wanted level increasing. Interestingly, the use of cheats allows the player to escape from the police, as signified in a long shot of the helicopter. Like the weapons, vehicles are props, as they can be easily accessed at the touch of a button, on the mobile.

The high angle shot signifies how the helicopter is a utiltity to Bellic, as he is able to escape by any means. Also, this shot enables the audience to be powerful , as they can dock at any place and can also make the player commit suicide by crashing in any destination, such as an airport in this clip. As a result, the game is enduces violence, as the audience are able to do anything they want. The use of the exteme close up shot of the car wheel connotes how the protagonist may use speed in order to dodge the police. By using long shots , the audience are able to identify with the protagonist, as they see his journey in the airport, as he can escape by any means.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Critical Investigation Ideas

Possible Hypothesis Questions based around the idea of video games:-

Why do violent video games result in violent behaviour and how do audiences receive them in the media?

How do action games affect the audience and why are they constructed to be more violent?

Supported examples of texts:-

  • Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision)
  • Mafia 2 (2K games)
  • Uncharted (Naughty Dog)
  • Heavy Rain ( Quantic Dream)
  • PS3 magazine
  • PC Gamer
  • Halo (Bungie)
  • Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar Games)
  • Edge Magazine
  • BBC News articles/ Newspaper articles- Telegraph, The Guardian, Independent
  • Studies by professionals on game addiction - Professor David Buckingham

These texts will relate to my critical investigation, as I will focus on how the institutions promote their game and take a in depth look at the reception of these games in the news and how audiences react to violent video games, giving reference to actual video games and their successes and faults- COD (Call of Duty).

Issues and Debates surrounding the texts:

Addiction and continuous game play- Investigation will look at how the use of graphics and voyeuristic narrative seems to hook the audience- how they are addicted by violence

Violence- In depth look at how and why institutions and their video games condone reckless violence and how the audience is likely to reenact the violence. With reference to BBC news and examples of video game related violence. The effect of the games on testosterone levels and aggression.

Desensitisation- Audiences such as teenagers and children and how they are absorbed by the narrative, that they are unable to familiarise real life with the narrative in violent video games.

How do these texts fit into the contemporary media landscape?

  • Launch of first person shooter game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare resulted in teenage audience being able to be enjoy being a soldier in war situations and being able to kill other players
  • Rise in level of violent video games- Red Dead Redemption focus on western violence
  • Teenage boys affected by violence, related to societal ideologies on knife and gun crime which is replicated from video games such as Grand Theft Auto

Media Theories:-

Hypodermic Needle theory- Casual violence made to seem more adventurous, as seen in
Grand Theft Auto, where you can play as Niko Bellic and kill civilians and cause reckless violence.

Uses and Gratifications theory- How audiences play video games as a means of escapism, let out their angers, qualms as a player in video games.

Anderson and Dill theory- Looks at how playing video games has an effect on children

Audience Reception theory- How audiences such as adults receive violent video games and how they cause moral panic, through the references of violence, drug abuse and sex.

Moral Panic- This theory is related within my investigation, as violent video games are blamed fro causing violence, with children's behaviour being more violent, as a result of playing these games