Media language-revision essay

Apply the concept of media language to one of your coursework productions

Media language is used by directors and producers to create certain codes within their texts, which can then be decoded by audiences. By showing texts to different audiences, the decoding can be interpreted into many different meanings and forms. We hoped to give this influence in our AS coursework production entitled ‘The Midnight Siren’. This was a one and a half minute short film, centred on the genre of film noir, as a local detective is lured into the ‘femme fatale’s’ house as he looks for clues regarding a crime gang operating in the area.

Various different camerawork techniques were employed throughout the making of the opening credits to portray different representations. On average, each shot displaying the credits lasted around 6 seconds; this length allowed the audience not only to read the credits, but they also created a sense of unease and tension. The progression of shots switches between the femme fatale and the detective getting ready before their paths cross. This allows the audience to feel a certain curiosity regarding the motives of these two characters, particularly as their faces cannot be seen. We aimed to create these feelings to imitate professional noir films as tension is a key feature of this dark, crime genre.

Throughout the majority of the film the non-diegetic score is slow yet it subtly builds in tone and volume, until the dialogue between the characters is spoken. Again, this denotes a feeling of tension as there is no specific build up point to the score, leaving viewers wondering the outcomes of the characters and events. There is drawn out saxophone solo edited in to appear at the same time as the title of the film, which increases both the tone and tempo of the music. The saxophone solo denotes the official beginning of the film, consequently denoting the end of the credits which would signal to the audience that the narrative is about to begin.

A major representational aspect of mise-en-scene in the film was the costumes and the props. We aimed to adhere to stereotypical aspects of mise en scene to accurately denote the traits of the genre. This meant the femme fatale was wearing a fitted cocktail dress and dark makeup, the detective wore a black suit and trilby hat, and the props included vintage dressing tables, cigarettes, and a black and white newspaper. The femme fatale’s costume denoted her confidence in her sexuality, representing the concept of the ‘new women’ from the time period of the 1920s that we were replicating, and consequently enabling her to ‘lure in’ the male detective. The detective’s suit connotes not only his professional realm, but also his strict attitude and strong personality, and the trilby hat is used to conceal his identity and cast shadows and silhouettes over his face, as these are other major stereotypical aspects of the film noir genre.

One of the key theoretical tools that enables us to understand and deconstruct texts is semiology, or semiotics. This is the way in which producers create signs in media texts that are representative of something. Denotation is what an image shows and what is immediately apparent. Connotation is the meaning of a sign which is arrived at through the cultural experiences a reader brings to it. In films these two aspects can be seen within camera work, editing, sound design and mise-en-scene. However, not all signs mean the same thing. A sign can only mean something depending on the context. For example, in film noir, the colour red on the femme fatale may represent sexuality and lust whereas in an action movie, the colour red may represent danger. This concept can be applied to ‘The Midnight Siren’ in terms of denotation and connotation; for example after the femme fatale invites the detective into her house, she then looks outside to check for any on-lookers. The denotation of this could be that she wants to keep the fact that she has a male in her house a secret, or that she believes she’s being watched by other members of the police and doesn’t want to be caught out.

To conclude, media language allows audiences to understand the codes within films, and therefore enables them to decode the representation in the best way that they see fit. During ‘The Midnight Siren’, the signs are arguably simpler to see due to the identifiable aspects of the genre as the audience expects certain stereotypical traits of film noir to be portrayed to them.

Advertisements

January 2010 (A) essay question

How effectively can contemporary media be regulated?

Intro:

Despite recognising the attraction of a utopian society free of governmental restrictions, most of us can agree that some form of regulation is necessary (or even desirable), even in a liberal, free, democratic society. However, the regulation system involved in media classification is widely debated. It would be plausible to say that physical forms of regulation such as proof of ID in cinemas and for in-store DVD and video game purchases allows contemporary media to be regulated effectively, due to the ‘physical gatekeeper’ system which actively applies the regulatory rules. Conversely, contemporary media regulation is predominantly ineffective through distribution of media products over the internet via downloading, streaming or online purchasing, where there is, in effect, no official regulatory system as the customer cannot be seen. The regulation guidelines set up by organisations such as the BBFC and PEGI are becoming easier to bypass as online piracy sites such as putlocker and seriesonline become more popular. Moreover adult-rated video games can still be purchased online by younger members of the public as false dates of birth and methods of payment can be used by anyone.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC),  is a non-governmental organisation, founded by the film industry in 1912. It is responsible for the national classification and censorship of films within the United Kingdom. The BBFC’s age-rating-based physical gatekeeper system works well in real life; however due to constant technological advances, society has been able to access content of their choice without restriction. The availability of film on the internet means that practically anything can be viewed via downloading and streaming, regardless of age, and therefore, regardless of regulatory rules.

PEGI (Pan European Game Information) is an organisation which runs a content rating system, established to help European consumers make informed decisions on buying computer games using age rating classification logos. PEGI took over the regulation of video games from the BBFC due to the rise in technology and popularity of video games, when the board realised the two needed to be separated.

In short, regulation is utilised for many reasons; to protect the vulnerable, to prevent anti-social behaviour caused by viewing or partaking in video games or films, and to contain portrayals of harmful messages. Today, the BBFC is less strict as societal values have changed over time, for example the past taboos of sex and nudity are now, to an extent, more widely accepted in the media due to desensitisation. However, PEGI has become more intense with their regulation of video games, as they are constantly becoming more advanced and realistic. By looking at specific examples of films and video games that have caused controversy over the past five years, we can understand more about how effectively the BBFC and PEGI deal with contemporary regulation regarding their more extreme media submissions.

Case studies:

Human Centipede II, Tom Six, 2011-required 3 minutes of cuts, highest classification band, classified not censored, right to entertainment, effective with physical gatekeeper, however difficult to control via VOD/internet streaming

Hate Crime, James Cullen Bressack, 2012-banned by the BBFC, completely effective at reducing potential harm to vulnerable audiences, however denies entertainment unlike PEGI who don’t ban games, banning means it lacks popularity/denies potential audiences so couldn’t find it on the internet unless you were specifically looking for it

GTA V, Rockstar Games, 2013-18 rating by PEGI, however 40% of its players are under this age rating, physical gatekeeper system works in order to purchase it however parents often buy the game for children, unaware of the reasons for its high age rating, don’t believe that a ‘video game’ could be so realistic/contain harmful messages therefore physical gatekeeper system remains redundant

Hatred, Destructive Creations, 2015-temporarily removed from Steam due to the controversial themes such as massacres, lack of moral considerations and realistic gameplay, PEGI do not ban games as they believe every adult has a right to play them so could only issue highest certification of 18, created a ‘moral panic’, adults probably unwilling to buy for younger players, however availability online means it can reach out to the young and vulnerable

Media effects theory:

Hypodermic needle theory-Albert Bandura-Bobo doll experiment, 1964-media injects information/messages into passive audiences, presents imitable and even desirable behaviour to young/vulnerable audiences, means contemporary media needs to be effectively regulated even more than ever, avoid corruption of contemporary society

Conclusion:

Future-BBFC to become less strict as social taboos weaken, society becomes more accepting of previously less talked about situations, PEGI to possibly become more strict because games are becoming more realistic, pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable as games producers know that PEGI don’t ban games

Media effects theory

Early media studies focused on the use of mass media in propaganda and persuasion. However, journalists and researchers soon looked to behavioral sciences to help figure out the effect of mass media and communications on society. Scholars have developed many different approaches and theories to figure this out.

Widespread fear that mass-media messages could outweigh other stable cultural influences, such as family and community, led to what is known as the direct effects model of media studies. This model assumed that audiences passively accepted media messages and would exhibit predictable reactions in response to those messages. For example, following the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds in 1938 (which was a fictional news report of an alien invasion), some people panicked and believed the story to be true.

Uses & gratification models:

This theory states that consumers use the media to satisfy specific needs or desires. For example, you may enjoy watching a show like Eastenders while simultaneously tweeting about it on Twitter with your friends. Many people use the Internet to seek out entertainment, to find information, to communicate with like-minded individuals, or to pursue self-expression. Each of these uses gratifies a particular need, and the needs determine the way in which media is used.

A typical uses and gratifications study explores the motives for media consumption and the consequences associated with use of that media. In the case of Eastenders and Twitter, you are using the Internet as a way to be entertained and to connect with your friends. Researchers have identified a number of common motives for media consumption. These include relaxation, social interaction, entertainment, arousal, escape, and a host of interpersonal and social needs.

Symbolic interactionism: 

This means the way you act toward someone or something is based on the meaning you have for a person or thing. To effectively communicate, people use symbols with shared cultural meanings. Symbols can be constructed from just about anything, including material goods, education, or even the way people talk.

  • One of the ways the media creates and uses cultural symbols to affect an individual’s sense of self is advertising. Advertisers work to give certain products a shared cultural meaning to make them desirable. For example, when you see someone driving a BMW, you may assume the person is successful or powerful because of the car he or she is driving. Ownership of luxury cars signifies membership in a certain socioeconomic class. Equally, technology company Apple has used advertising and public relations to attempt to become a symbol of innovation and nonconformity. Use of an Apple product, therefore, may have a symbolic meaning and may send a particular message about the product’s owner.

Spiral of silence: 

The spiral of silence theory states that those who hold a minority opinion silence themselves to prevent social isolation. As minority opinions are silenced, the illusion of consensus grows, and so does social pressure to adopt the dominant position. This creates a self-propagating loop in which minority voices are reduced to a minimum and perceived popular opinion sides wholly with the majority opinion.

  • For example, prior to and during World War II, many Germans opposed Adolf Hitler and his policies; however, they kept their opposition silent out of fear of isolation and stigma.

Media logic:

The media logic theory states that common media formats and styles serve as a means of perceiving the world. Today, the deep rooting of media in the cultural consciousness means that media consumers only need to engage for a few moments with a particular television program to understand that it is a news show, a comedy, or a reality show. The pervasiveness of these formats means that our culture uses the style and content of these shows as ways to interpret reality.

  • For example, imagine a TV news program that frequently shows heated debates between opposing sides on public policy issues. This style of debate has become a template for handling disagreement to those who consistently watch this type of program.

Cultivation theory (analysis):

The cultivation analysis theory states that heavy exposure to media causes individuals to develop an illusory perception of reality based on the most repetitive and consistent messages of a particular medium. This theory mostly applies to analyses of television and video games because of their pervasive, repetitive nature. Under this theory, someone who watches a great deal of television may form a picture of reality that does not correspond to actual life. Televised violent acts, whether those reported on news programs or portrayed on television dramas, for example, greatly outnumber violent acts that most people encounter in their daily lives. Thus, an individual who watches a great deal of television may come to view the world as more violent and dangerous than it actually is.

Key points:

  • The direct effects model of media studies assumes that media audiences passively accept media messages and exhibit predictable reactions in response to those messages.
  • Credible media theories generally do not give as much power to the media, such as the agenda-setting theory, or give a more active role to the media consumer, such as the uses and gratifications theory.
  • Other theories focus on specific aspects of media influence, such as the spiral of silence theory’s focus on the power of the majority opinion or the symbolic interactionism theory’s exploration of shared cultural symbolism.
  • Media logic and cultivation analysis theories deal with how media consumers’ perceptions of reality can be influenced by media messages.

Exam section B: essay plan

Explain which forms of media regulation are the most effective, which are not so, and your reasons for both. (50)

Intro/past:

  • Despite recognising the attraction of a utopian society free of governmental restrictions, most of us can agree that some form of regulation is necessary (or even desirable), even in a liberal, free, democratic society
  • How effective: the classification system involved in media regulation and physical forms of distribution such as proof of ID in cinemas (physical gatekeeper) and in-store film/DVD purchases are the most effective. Media regulation is predominantly ineffective through distribution of media products over the internet via downloading, streaming or online purchasing, where there is in effect no official regulatory system
  • The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC),  is a non-governmental organisation, founded by the film industry in 1912 and is responsible for the national classification and censorship of films within the United Kingdom.
  • The BBFC’s regulation system worked well in real life; however due to technological advances and since the ‘video nasties’ of the 80s, society has been able to access content of their choice without restriction; the availability of film on the internet means that practically anything can be viewed via downloading/ streaming
  • PEGI (Pan European Game Information) runs a content rating system established to help European consumers make informed decisions on buying computer games using classification logos
  • PEGI took over the regulation of video games from the BBFC due to the rise in popularity of video games
  • Why regulate: protecting the vulnerable, prevention of anti-social behaviour caused by viewing or partaking in video games/films, to contain positive portrayals of harmful messages
  • BBFC has become less strict as societal values change e.g. the taboos of sex/nudity, PEGI has become more strict as video games have become more realistic
  • By looking at specific examples of films and video games that have caused controversy over the past five years, we can understand more about how the BBFC and PEGI deal with regulation regarding their more extreme media submissions

Present:

Hatred

  • an isometric shoot ’em up video game developed and published by Destructive Creations, Released: June 1, 2015- rated 18
  • controversy:
    • Shoot innocent people
    • Realistic violence
    • No diluting agent- just relentless killing
    • Slaughter of innocent people
    • Massacre themes
    • No moral considerations
  • characterised as “controversial” by multiple video game journalists. The game was shortly removed by Valve Corporation from their Steam Greenlight service due to its extremely violent content but was later brought back with a personal apology from Gabe Newell
  • Communications Manager of PEGI Dirk Bosman said that “no mater what the content would be  we would always give it an 18 certificate”- PEGI does not ban films, different to BBFC guidelines, thinks that everything has a right for an adult to play
  • Available for digital download, hard to see who was buying it-easy to lie about age
  • Similar to film Hate Crime, appeals to right wing activists, radicals, racists-presents imitable behaviour
  • Developer description: a reaction to video game aesthetic trends such as political correctness, politeness, vivid colour, and games as art- could be argued as effective, in that PEGI and the BBFC are not supposed to be methods of censorship, making people respect authority, however, it could be argued that respecting authority is part of our society- PEGI is a European organisation not focused on societal values on Britain-will not be regulating to uphold the same societal values

The Human Centipede 2

  • Directed by Tom Six-rated 18, uncut version originally banned
  • Controversy: Contains very strong bloody violence and gore, and sexual violence but also promotes the idea of replicating violent plots from films as the character watches the first film and decides to create the human centipede (imitable behaviour)
  • Cuts to the film included: a man masturbating with sandpaper; graphic sight of a man’s teeth being removed with a hammer; graphic sight of lips being stapled to naked buttocks; graphic sight of forced defecation into and around other people’s mouths; a man with barbed wire wrapped around his penis raping a woman; a new-born baby being killed; graphic sight of injury as staples are torn away from individuals’ mouth and buttocks – the cuts required in accordance with BBFC Guidelines, policy and the Video Recordings Act 1984
  • Versions of the film were rejected and required cuts, but many complaints have been made over the 18 certificate due to the overall concept of the film
  • On the whole the BBFC considers a film in its entirety e.g. the film Hate Crime was deemed too unacceptable in its concept and “would risk potential harm, and would be unacceptable to broad public opinion” due to its focus on terrorisation, mutilation, physical and sexual abuse and murder of the members of a Jewish family shot from the sole perspective of the Neo Nazi thugs who invade the family’s home- this was rejected by the BBFC for the overall concept of the film and how it was portrayed
  • However, some have argued that the overall concept of The Human Centipede II should also have lead to a BBFC rejection, highlighting the ineffectivness of some aspects of the classification process of films for adults
  • Also the film suggests a progression of violence from the first film and therefore it could be argued that regulation needs to get stricter to support the development in violence within films-physical gatekeeping system would work due to proof of ID but it’s difficult to determine which age range would watch it online when regulation is less effective

The Woman in Black

  • 12A classification, 6 seconds of cuts required to bring it from a 15 classification to a 12A to reduce moments of strong violence/ horror
  • Arguably not very much cut, whereas there could be a massive difference in the effect on  a 15 year old and on a 12 year old
  • However, the A aspect (with adult) suggests that parents can ascertain what their child can handle, not always the case
  • The face-to-face regulation of this however is effective as children will have to prove their age for viewing the film in a cinema
  • Daniel Radcliffe attracted a younger ‘Harry Potter’ audience for which the oldest age rating was a 12
  • The Guardian named The Woman in Black the most complained about film of 2012 as there were 134 letters of complaint to the BBFC about 12A certificate
  • However, the BBFC recorded 89% of people supporting the 12A rating for the fact that it was a literary classic and only 11% disagreed
  • Therefore suggesting that regulation of film is in the majority well-done in the UK as if this is the most complained about, then there are not many complaints- the classification system therefore is mostly effective
  • It could be argued that since the rise of the internet, children are inevitably subjected to more violence on non-regulation sites than in the past, therefore some parents think that it is okay for their children to watch 18 rated films, whereupon BBFC and PEGI regulation systems are seen by society as more of guidelines, thus as a regulatory system, their continuing saturation in status could be making them more ineffective if society is not valuing or maintaining their classifications

Grand Theft Auto V 

  • Rated 18, content escalation, based on reality
  • Controversy: Extreme violence, killing without motive, violence towards defenseless people, realistic graphics, strong language, strong depictions of torture and the weapons used e.g electricity and pliers, misogynistic views of women
  • Approximately 40% of the people who play GTA are under 18
  • Setting of game in the fictional Los Santos is based on Los Angeles, tries to create an immersive game that looks and feels realistic when playing- increased realism of video games is undermining PEGI as a regulatory system as it is pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable further and further with very new game- becoming more realistic, and more violent
  • Newspapers report children as young as 4 playing the game revealing the ultimate reason for media regulation being ineffectual- there is no enforcement of who is playing the game after it has been bought or in fact how they choose to play the game
  • This shows a flaw in the regulation system as children are easily able to get hold of 18 rated video games
  • Video games rated 18, bought by parents who don’t understand the content of the game, predominantly as the philosophy behind gaming has evolved from the first video game Tennis-For-Two in 1958 when games were made for the entertainment of children. They have now evolved to become highly complex, realistic role play games for adults to play

Conclusion:

There is always potential for parents to buy high certificated films for children; more parents are buying video games for children, it is harder to make cuts for video games, and video games are becoming more realistic. This means that in the future, PEGI may be likely to become stricter regarding their regulation, whereas the BBFC is likely to become more relaxed as public opinion becomes more liberal; the distribution of both films and video games is likely to become more regulated against in the future, as the advances in technology have made it possible to undermine regulation authorities and the boundaries they set.


ESSAY:

Despite recognising the attraction of a utopian society free of governmental restrictions, most of us can agree that some form of regulation is necessary (or even desirable), even in a liberal, free, democratic society. However, the regulation system involved in media classification is widely debated. It would be plausible to say that physical forms of distribution such as proof of ID in cinemas and in-store DVD purchases are the most effective, due to the ‘physical gatekeeper’ system which actively applies the regulatory rules. Conversely, media regulation is predominantly ineffective through distribution of media products over the internet via downloading, streaming or online purchasing, where there is, in effect, no official regulatory system as the customer cannot be seen.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC),  is a non-governmental organisation, founded by the film industry in 1912. It is responsible for the national classification and censorship of films within the United Kingdom. In 1984, the BBFC changed the word “censorship” in their title to “classification”, highlighting a subtle shift in the attitudes of the authorities and society, as the board aimed to inform viewers rather than prevent their viewing of certain entertainment. The BBFC’s physical gatekeeper regulation system worked well in real life; however due to technological advances and since the moral panic of the ‘video nasties’ of the 80s, society has been able to access content of their choice without restriction. The availability of film on the internet means that practically anything can be viewed via downloading and streaming, regardless of age.

PEGI (Pan European Game Information) is an organisation which runs a content rating system, established to help European consumers make informed decisions on buying computer games using age rating classification logos. PEGI took over the regulation of video games from the BBFC due to the rise in technology and popularity of video games, when the board realised the two needed to be separated.

In short, regulation is utilised for many reasons; to protect the vulnerable, to prevent anti-social behaviour caused by viewing or partaking in video games or films, and to contain portrayals of harmful messages. Today, the BBFC is less strict as societal values have changed over time, for example the past taboos of sex and nudity are now, to an extent, more widely accepted in the media. However, PEGI has become more intense with their regulation of video games, as they are constantly becoming more advanced and realistic. By looking at specific examples of films and video games that have caused controversy over the past five years, we can understand more about how the BBFC and PEGI deal with regulation regarding their more extreme media submissions.

Hatred is an isometric ‘shoot ’em up’ video game, developed and published by Destructive Creations, and was released on June 1st, 2015. It was eventually given the rating of 18 by PEGI, after some controversies. These included: the shooting of innocent people coupled with realistic violence, the lack of diluting agent or context for the killings, massacre themes, and lack of moral considerations. The game was characterised as “controversial” by multiple video game journalists. Consequently, it was shortly removed by Valve Corporation from their Steam Greenlight service due to its extremely violent content but was later brought back due to popular demand. The communications manager of PEGI Dirk Bosman said that “No mater what the content would be  we would always give it an 18 certificate”, arguably due to the lack of context which presents mindless killing as a simple past time. This may present imitable behaviour to the young or vulnerable, meaning that a higher certification would disable these people from accessing it in a ‘physical gatekeeper’ situation. However, unlike the BBFC, PEGI does not ban media content as they believe that every game has a right to be played by an adult, which furthers the statement by the communication manager as the strongest form of regulation that Hatred could receive would be a 18 certificate. Contrastingly, as it has been brought back on Steam, an online game downloading platform, the digital purchase of the game would be harder to regulate as true ages of customers can be easily changed.

The effectiveness of the physical gatekeeper system was beneficial in the case of The Human Centipede 2, an exploitation horror film directed by Tom Six that was eventually rated 18 by the BBFC; however, the uncut version was originally banned. The BBFC deemed it unacceptable on the grounds that it contained very strong bloody violence, gore, and sexual violence but most importantly, it promotes the idea of negative imitable behaviour as the main character in the sequel watches the first film and decides to replicate and create his own human centipede. The cuts to the film included: a man masturbating with sandpaper; graphic sight of a man’s teeth being removed with a hammer; graphic sight of lips being stapled to naked buttocks; graphic sight of forced defecation into and around other people’s mouths; a man with barbed wire wrapped around his penis raping a woman; a new-born baby being killed; and graphic sight of injury as staples are torn away from individuals’ mouth and buttocks. Collectively, the 3 minutes worth of cuts were required in accordance with BBFC’s policy guidelines, alongside those of the 1984 Video Recordings Act. The film still received many complaints regardless of the 18 certificate due to the overall concept of the film. On the whole the BBFC considers a film in its entirety. For example, the film Hate Crime (James Cullen Bressack, 2012) was deemed too unacceptable in its concept and “would risk potential harm, and would be unacceptable to broad public opinion” due to its focus on terrorisation, mutilation, physical and sexual abuse and murder of the members of a Jewish family shot from the sole perspective of the neo-Nazi thugs who invade the family’s home. Because of this, the film was rejected by the BBFC for the overall concept of the narrative, the lack of context, and the brutality in which it was portrayed. Conversely, some have argued that the overall concept of The Human Centipede II should also have lead to a BBFC rejection, highlighting the ineffectiveness of some aspects of the classification process of films for adults. Moreover, the film also suggests a progression of violence from the first film and therefore it could be argued that regulation needs to become stricter in accordance with this, to support the development in violence within films. Again, the physical gatekeeping system would work due to proof of ID but it is difficult to determine which age range would watch it online where regulation is less effective due to piracy sites and online options to choose your age at the point of purchase.

However, the effectiveness of the physical gatekeeper system in the case of the video game Grand Theft Auto V is widely debated. Released by Rockstar Games in 2013, the realistic action-adventure game was rated 18 by PEGI. The high certificate was issued due to: extreme violence, killing without motive, violence towards defenceless people, realistic graphics, strong language, strong depictions of torture and the weapons used e.g electricity and pliers, and its misogynistic views of women.  A 2015 study showed that regardless of the 18 classification, approximately 40% of the players are actually younger. One of the main issues is how realistic the game is. It is set in the fictional city of Los Santos (based on Los Angeles), and therefore creates an immersive game that looks and feels realistic when playing. The increased realism of video games is seen to be undermining PEGI as a regulatory system, as it is consistently pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable with every new game. Consequently, the realism means that younger and more vulnerable audiences may immerse the game’s reality with their own, bringing negative on-screen actions into contemporary society.  Newspapers report children as young as 4 playing the game, revealing the ultimate reason for media regulation being ineffectual- there is no enforcement of who is playing the game after it has been bought or in fact how they choose to play the game.

On the whole, there is always potential for parents to buy high certificated films or games for children; more parents are buying video games for children, it is harder to make cuts for video games, and video games are becoming more realistic. This means that in the future, PEGI may be likely to become stricter regarding their regulation, whereas the BBFC is likely to become more relaxed as public opinion becomes more liberal; the distribution of both films and video games is likely to become more regulated against in the future, as the advances in technology have made it possible to undermine regulation authorities and the boundaries they set.

Case study: Hatred

  • Developed by: Destructive Creations
  • Published by: Destructive Creations
  • Released: June 1st, 2015
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows

The player-character is a misanthropic mass-killing sociopath who begins a “genocide crusade” to kill as many human beings as possible. The developer described Hatred as a reaction to video game aesthetic trends such as political correctness, politeness, vivid color, and games as artHatred is a shooter video game presented in isometric perspective in which the player-character is a mass-murdering villain who “hates this world, and the human worms feasting on its carcass” and embarks on a “genocide crusade” against the entire human race. The player can carry three weapons and an assortment of grenades, as well as drive some vehicles. Health is regenerated by performing executions on incapacitated people; the moves made to kill those victims involve cinematic switches of camera perspectives. If the player is killed, the level restarts entirely unless the player completed additional sidequests that provide a limited number of respawn points. The character’s voice acting is deliberately kept to a minimum, with his ideology and motivations largely left open to interpretation.

Controversy:

GameSpot felt that the gameplay of Hatred lacked variation, arguing that the game “fails even at being dangerous.” Similarly, Jim Sterling, while criticizing the tone, concluded that “worse than that—we got a damn boring game”. Rock, Paper, Shotgun said that “Hatred fails in every way,” claiming the game fells short in terms of entertainment, technical competence, and “to be a controversial, shocking experience”. Chris Carter of Destructoid was also critical of one-note gameplay while noting several technical issues. Richard Cobbett of The Guardian described the controversy as being “about the feuding around the game rather than the game itself”, calling the final product a “bland monochrome rehash” of Postal. 

The Guardian said that: “But really, Hatred is just a silly shooting game that seeks to tap dance between self-deprecating parody and pseudo-anarchic posturing so that it captures all sections, moods and arguing positions of its target demographic.” Metro Magazine said: “Personally we find it morally repugnant, but whatever your opinion on the game’s concept the fact is that Hatred is just too boring and repetitive to be worth any real outage. And although some online retailers are refusing to sell it we’re glad it wasn’t banned, because something this banal and unimaginative really doesn’t deserve the attention.”

gameerz-news-pic

Case study: Grand Theft Auto V

  • Developed by: Rockstar North
  • Published by: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 17th September 2013
  • Platforms: PS3 and Xbox 360
  • Moments of controversy: Violence, depiction of women, torture equipment/sequence, hostage interrogation, rape, murder

Violence:

The mission “By the Book” generated controversy from reviewers and commentators for its depiction of torture. In the mission, protagonist Trevor Philips interrogates a man, Mr K, to extract information about an Azerbaijani fugitive who poses a threat to the FIB. Trevor uses torture equipment (such as electricity and pliers) on the restrained man, which players select from a table. Once Mr K provides the FIB with the information, Trevor is asked to kill him, but instead drives him to the airport, providing him an opportunity to escape. While driving Mr K, Trevor monologues about the ineffectiveness of torture, pointing out Mr K’s readiness to supply the FIB with the information without being tortured, and expressing that torture is used as a power play “to assert ourselves”.

Reviewers echoed that while the mission served as political commentary on the use of torture by the United States government, its use of torture was in poor taste. IGN’s Keza MacDonald felt the torture sequence “pushed the boundaries of taste” and Polygons Chris Plante commented: “The script plays it for laughs. I felt nauseated”. Carolyn Petit of GameSpot felt that placing the torture scene in context with the monologue created a hypocrisy in the mission’s function as a commentary device. In an editorial, Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer discussed whether the political commentary was overshadowed by the violent content and compared the mission to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2s “No Russian” controversy. He said that the close-up camera and quick time events accentuated the sequence’s impact beyond the violence depicted in previous Grand Theft Auto games. Summarising its function as “flawed”, he considered the sequence lacking enough context to justify its violence. 

Treatment of women:

Some reviewers claim that the game’s portrayal of women is misogynistic. Chris Plante of Polygon felt that the supporting female characters were constructed on stereotypes, and wrote that the game’s “treatment of women is a relic from the current generation”. Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times considered the satirical portrayals of women uncreative, and added that violent and sexist themes hurt the game experience. Edge noted that while “every female in the game exists solely to be sneered, leered or laughed at”, it treated its all-male lead characters in a similar vein through their stereotyped tendencies towards violence. Dave Cook of VG247 reinforced the sentiment that the female characters were constructed on stereotypes in an editorial: “They’re either there to be rescued, shouted at, fucked, to be seen fucking, put up with, killed, heard prattling away like dullards on their mobile phones or shopping”.

Legal actions:

  • In October 2013, hip-hop artist Daz Dillinger issued a cease and desist letter to Rockstar Games and Take Two Interactive for allegedly using two of his songs without authorisation. American television personality Karen Gravano of the reality television programme Mob Wives filed suit against Rockstar Games in February 2014 in allegation that a character in the game is based on her likeness and story and was depicted without her consent. Rockstar filed to dismiss Gravano’s lawsuit in April, and stated that the allegations are foreclosed by the First Amendment. In July, actress Lindsay Lohan also filed a lawsuit, claiming elements in the game were influenced by her image, voice and clothing line without permission.

gran-theft-auto-v-sebianoti

PEGI-video game regulation

PEGI (Pan European Game Information) is an age regulation authority that was established to allow people, particularly parents, to make informed decisions on the purchase of video games. Launched in spring 2003, it replaced a number of national age rating systems and is now used by over 30 countries across Europe.

The rating on a game confirms that it is suitable for players over a certain age. Accordingly, a PEGI 7 game is only suitable for those aged seven and above and an PEGI 18 game is only suitable for adults aged eighteen and above. The PEGI rating considers the age suitability of a game, not the level of difficulty.


PEGI 3
The content of games given this rating is considered suitable for all age groups. Some violence in a comical context (typically Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry cartoon-like forms of violence) is acceptable. The child should not be able to associate the character on the screen with real life characters, they should be totally fantasy. The game should not contain any sounds or pictures that are likely to scare or frighten young children. No bad language should be heard.
PEGI 7
Any game that would normally be rated at 3 but contains some possibly frightening scenes or sounds may be considered suitable in this category.

PEGI 12
Videogames that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy character and/or non graphic violence towards human-looking characters or recognisable animals, as well as videogames that show nudity of a slightly more graphic nature would fall in this age category. Any bad language in this category must be mild and fall short of sexual expletives.
PEGI 16
This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. More extreme bad language, the concept of the use of tobacco and drugs and the depiction of criminal activities can be content of games that are rated 16.
PEGI 18
The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence and/or includes elements of specific types of violence. Gross violence is the most difficult to define since it can be very subjective in many cases, but in general terms it can be classed as the depictions of violence that would make the viewer feel a sense of revulsion.

Bad Language
Game contains bad language
Discrimination
Game contains depictions of, or material which may encourage, discrimination
Drugs
Game refers to or depicts the use of drugs
Fear
Game may be frightening or scary for young children
Gambling
Games that encourage or teach gambling
Sex
Game depicts nudity and/or sexual behaviour or sexual references
Violence
Game contains depictions of violence
Online gameplay
Game can be played online

Case studies I will be researching:

18

Game can be played online Game contains bad language Game contains depictions of violence
Grand Theft Auto V
Take2 Interactive Software Europe ltd
The content of this game is suitable for persons aged 18 years and over only.
It contains: Extreme violence – Multiple, motiveless killing – Violence towards defenceless people – Strong language
System: PC
Genre: Action
Releasedate: 2015-03-24

18

Game contains bad language Game contains depictions of violence
Hatred
Destructive Creations J. Zieli?ski i Wspólnicy Sp.J.
The content of this game is suitable for persons aged 18 years and over only.
It contains: Extreme violence – Multiple, motiveless killing – Violence towards defenceless people – Strong language
System: PC
Genre: Action
Releasedate: 2015-05-15

16

Game contains depictions of violence Game can be played online
Sniper Elite 3 Ultimate Edition
505 Games S.p.A
The content of this game is suitable for persons aged 16 years and over only.
It contains: Realistic looking violence –
This game allows the player to interact with other players ONLINE
System: PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Releasedate: 2015-03-13