Unit 6: Critical Approaches to Creative Media Products-Tasks

The audience is arguably the most important part of the media industry after all; the audience are the ones that are the recipients of the media. Creators of the media go through the process of finding of the demographic that is most interested in the media product, this then allows the creators to tailor-make the marketing campaign reaches this group the easiest and gives them the biggest chance of relating to and wanted to buy/watch the media product. I had an idea of what my target audience due my pre-production work and target market audience research I have undertaken before I began production of my game. In order to gather more information on my target audience for my game, I created a survey that I sent out to people to find out-

 

  • People’s Age and Gender.
  • Whether and if so, which, video games they play.
  • What consoles they play video games using.
  • What genres of game they like.
  • Would they be interested in my game?

 

This survey was created using google docs, in order to get my 758 responses, I asked people I knew, and I posted the survey on reddit for anonymous internet users from across the world to give a more random and less bias group of results. However, the argument could be made that there is still a slight biased as only people who use the website, and this could equate to more “gamers” replying to the survey, as in order to access the website they must have a device that can play games-such as a smartphone or laptop.

 

In order to define my audience, I had to sort my data into who would have an interest in my game, I sorted this data and 54.4% of my respondents are interested in my game concept. From this, I needed to manipulate the data into the people interested in the game, and then use that data to find my demographic.  I found that the majority of males were interested in my game concept, as well as just under half of females [1]. While I did have a greater male response, I feel like I have an appropriate amount of data to justify that I have a greater male audience.

 

I then calculated the age group with the most interest in my game. I counted the amount of people in each age group that clicked the “Yes” box, as well as the other boxes. I discovered that the 20-30 age group has the most interested, marginally having more “Yes” votes than the 12-19 group (20-30 has 193, while 12-19 has 182) [2]. However, I did acquire more responses from this age group than any other-again only marginally beating the 12-19 age group (20-30 got 375 responses, while 12-19 got 320).

 

This would make my target audience males between the ages of 20-30 years old. However, according to my data, I have 152 “Yes” responses from 12-19 year old males, while only 132 “Yes” responses from 20-30 year old males. While this does not exactly match the overall results I acquired, it could be due to the imbalance of the amount of responses I received.

 

I then gathered some sales, demographic and usage data from theesa.com, the official website for the “Entertainment Software Association”. This data from 2015 shows a lot of statistics and data gathered from America. This data showed that the majority of game player are up to 35 years old matching the age that has the most interest in my game according to my research. The gender pie chart shows the majority of game players are males (albeit only be a small margin). This matches my data, as the majority of responses I got that played video games and that were interested in my concept a

 

While doing the research into sales of audience, I decided to look at sales figures of games I took inspiration from and that of a similar genre to see if realistically there is a market for these kind of games. I took inspiration from DOOM, which was remade and released in May 2016-this game surpassed one million copies in its first three months of being on sale on the PC platform Steam alone. Halo 5: Guardians, another inspiration for me, sold 5 million copies in its first three months of sale (October 2015-January 2016). This proves that there is a huge market for sci-fi first person shooter games on all platforms.

 

In conclusion, I have profiled my audience to be predominately male, between the teenage years and the relatively early adulthood. While there is still a relatively large audience of older ages and of female (and other), genders that responded positively 50% of people who ticked the “other” gender box are interested in my game concept. Overall, I have profiled my audience to be Male, between teenagers and young adults.

 

Theesa Data-

 

Click to access ESA-Essential-Facts-2015.pdf

 

DOOM Sales Figures-

 

http://techdrake.com/2016/08/doom-sells-1-million-copies-steam/

 

Halo 5 sales figures

 

http://wccftech.com/halo-5-sold-5-million-copies-within-3-months/

 

 

 

Task 2, Part A-

Stardew Valley is a farming simulation game with role-playing game aspects. The player takes control of a character who inherits their grandfathers dilapidated and ruined farm, after leaving your office job, you start exploring the valley, and bringing your grandfather’s farm to its former glory. Stardew Valley was inspired by games like Terraria, Minecraft and most notably Harvest Moon, in which it is a spiritual successor. This does occasionally results in arguments that the game has been too heavily inspired by the Harvest Moon series, however Barone’s original intention was to make a game incorporating all the best elements from the series in addition to adding his own, and he has been commended by Yasuhiro Wada-creator of the Harvest Moon series, and was “very happy” with Stardew Valley, seeing that Stardew continues Harvest Moon’s legacy and freedom-something lost with the later additions to the series. Overall Barone developed the game for fans of games such as himself, who wanted a game like the early Harvest Moons but for modern ways of playing and extra features.

 

The narrative is simultaneously bare bones and in extremely detailed as the game is no-linear. You as the player chooses what does and does not happen every time you play, whether it’s to talk to people, to farm, to mine etc. Of course, there are end goals (for example filling the museum) but it is up to the player whether they fulfill these jobs. While this is extremely appealing to some people, especially the audience who enjoy the games Barone used for inspiration, some people may not have an interest in the game as it doesn’t necessarily have a “point”, while a lot of games you have to complete levels or missions, or try to win, Stardew is about making your choices and just playing how you see fit.

 

Stardew valley is heavily stylised, the entire game is made through pixel art, a graphical method that is created through a raster graphics software-where the images are created and edited on the pixel level. The game is stylised with bright colours to represent the different seasons-spring is full of bright greens and pinks, summer has dark greens, autumn (fall) has browns and reds, and winter whites. This helps give an upbeat feel to the game, also giving symbolism to the game. However, in the caves in which the player goes mining and fighting, it’s dark and full of blacks, representing the danger and darkness of the caves.

The music (also all composed by Barone) represents the upbeat feeling of the game, helping immerse the player in whatever situation they are in. The game is comprised of 70 music tracks, as well as a variety of cartoon-like sound effects-such as twinkling sounds when something rare is found.

The game is renowned for its representation and handling of issues and themes. The main theme is of course going against industrialisation and retaining a sense of character-as the main antagonist in the game is Joja Co-a large corporation that does not care for anyone and only looks to make a profit. Other issues that are touched on are alcoholism, depression, suicide, post-traumatic-stress-disorder, abusive relationships, homelessness and multiple others-these issues are found by befriending people living in the valley.

Industry wise, Stardew Valley has had a strange lifespan. A single developer “Eric Barone” created the game over the course of four years, doing everything to produce the game, including the music, the writing, and the coding, developed the game. Barone (who tends to go under his alias “Concerned Ape”) began work on Stardew Valley in 2011, after being unable to get a job in the industry after he graduated university. His original plan involved releasing the game on the Xbox Live Arcade; however, this eventually changed to a release on the PC platform “Steam”, due to the size of the project and Steam’s “greenlight” system, which allows developers to gauge interest in the game through audience feedback-something that Barone took extremely importantly, routinely asking fans what their opinions and ideas were for the game during development.

Released exclusively for Windows on 28th February 2016, Stardew Valley has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and sold 400000 copies in its first two weeks of sale. Barone announced in May 2016 that Chucklefish Games (who helped publish Stardew Valley) that they would be taking over non-development roles in the games production, such as language localisations while Barone focused on the development. It was announced at E3 2016 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) that the game would be ported to Xbox One, for release by the end of the year. Barone later clarified that the game would be coming to PlayStation 4 and Wii U in addition. While announcing the release dates for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One editions, Barone announced the cancellation of the Wii U edition due to the Wii U’s commercial failure, but an edition for the upcoming Nintendo Switch was in development.

 

 

 

Task 2, Part B-

There are a few different theories that can be applied to media products; however, it can be argued that some of these theories are not as accurate as others.

The hypodermic model (The effects model) isn’t overly relevant to Stardew Valley, as the game isn’t exactly violent or “negative” like a lot of other games-especially games such as Grand Theft Auto, which the hypodermic model is used to try to convince people that it makes people violent as well as other games. The argument however, could be made that this game has themes to rebel against society-as your character running away from their job and moving to a town far away partially due to the company they work for. This company then appears in the game, and the option is there to shut down the company-thereby rebelling against society and normality. In addition to this, you can choose to join this company again and help them take over the town-thereby destroying uniqueness and industrialising the rural and rustic valley. Overall the effects model isn’t overly good to apply to Stardew Valley, or any “positive” video game, however it has been known to be used with video games in a negative way.

The uses and gratifications model is the theory that can be applied best to Stardew Valley, as it shows that the audience is active in the way that they choose what kinds of media they use, what they believe and how they see and absorb what is going on in the media product in their own way. As Stardew Valley is widely regarded as being useful for relaxation and escapism from the issues of the modern world (this is also a prevalent theme in the game, with your character escaping from a busy lifeless job to freedom). This theory can also then be attributed to people consuming this media product to help depression, stress and emotional satisfaction-crafting a digital life for themselves in a small town and going through at their pace and doing what they see fit, socialising, working or whatever they chose to do. The game also addresses these issues and accepts the harsh reality of life and how to overcome these issues-another reason why the game gratifies the audience’s needs. Since Stardew Valley has a blend of realism and fictitious content it provides a good amount of relatability and escapism at the same time, comforting the audience as they play the game. However, it could be argued that this theory isn’t fully accurate, as this theory means the audience is active, however, one of the biggest points of Stardew Valley is the escapism, and the façade of a new life.

Reception theory is easily applied to Stardew Valley, the single developer (Barone) made this game as a labour of love, and it assumed that he has put everything into the game for a specific reason. It is widely agreed among the community that the game does represent uniqueness and freedom and striking away from being forced to do something you don’t want to (which is of course evident in both the gameplay’s freedom and the plot of the game).  Of course a large negative with the reception theory is that the creator may have not encoded anything into the game, and everything is exactly as it seems and doesn’t have any secret meanings or hidden messages for the audience to find and decode. Another issue could be that Barone encoded messages into the game, but the audience have decoded them incorrectly-or haven’t found or decoded them at all. As there are three kinds of decoding, it can be argued which one the audience have used. I believe that the majority of the encoded messages (if they were Barone’s intentions) are widely agreed upon- making them dominant, or at the least negotiated readings, while none (or very few) are oppositional.

References:

 

Stardew Valley Sales:

 

https://steamdb.info/app/413150/graphs/

 

http://steamspy.com/app/413150

 

www.polygon.com/2016/4/13/11423844/stardew-valley-sales-one-million-copies

 

Stardew Valley Information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stardew_Valley

 

http://stardewvalley.net

 

 

 

Games Making People Violent:

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2013/09/18/do-games-like-grand-theft-auto-v-cause-real-world-violence/#592f84bf3241

 

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/598376/violent-video-games-players-aggressive

 

 

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