For this assignment, we needed to create a production piece in the format of our choice based on an area relating to one of the module topics: gender, nationality, class or religion. Each student was instructed to work individually and independently on their production piece using skills already learnt.
I decided to focus on gender because I am interested in feminism and passionate about gender equality. I wanted to create a production piece that empowers women and shows that they are allowed the same rights as men.
Having read Chess’ research: ‘What Does a Gamer Look Like?’ (Chess, Evans, & Baines, 2016) which was about differences between men and women in regards to gaming, I decided that this was a topic that I wanted to explore further for my production.
I decided that my production piece would be in the format of a magazine feature spread regarding the perception of female gamers. The production piece would include two pages of copy with a suitable layout, incorporating photographs and text.
After researching gender stereotypes, inequalities between female and male gamers and the gaming industry, I decided that I would start my production by conducting a survey so that I could use the results to see how female gamers and gender in the gaming industry are perceived.
I decided I would create my spread using Microsoft Publisher since this is a platform I am familiar with.
I started making my magazine spread with Survey Monkey, a website that allows people to create surveys for free. I created a questionnaire on ‘The Perception of ‘Gamers’ Relating to Gender Identities’ (appendix 1). This can be accessed by clicking the link here.
Thirty-six people answered my survey and I used the results in the magazine article. I also used one of the images from the survey results directly within my production.
When writing the article, I concentrated on the survey (statistics and results) to describe the perception of female gamers before going on to empower girls to fight against negative stereotypes and the negative ‘stigma’ that many people acknowledged while answering the survey.
After the article was written, I concentrated on the photography for the spread. I asked some of my colleagues to act as models for the photographs and I took them in my flat. I wanted to show females gaming, but without any male models in the photographs. Chess, in his research found that in advertising women were always accompanied by men when they were gaming (Chess, Evans, & Baines, 2016, p. 15). I wanted to make sure that women’s own ability to game was the dominate meaning taken from the images.
My course mates used props such as a Nintendo 3DS, a Gameboy Advance and a laptop, which I provided for them. I also took a photograph of the two portable gaming consoles and their cartridges to embellish the spread.
I edited the photographs on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom in the library. Below you can see screenshots of an image before (above) and after (below) editing.
WHO IS THE PRODUCTION AIMED AT?
The production was aimed at readers of SHOUT magazine because I wanted to empower a young female audience. I felt that targeting young people would be better to impact change compared to targeting older audiences who may be less susceptible to change. This is an idea backed up by research conducted by Krosnik:
‘[P]eople are most susceptible to… …attitude change during their early… ….years’ (Krosnik & Alwin, 1989).
I want the magazine feature spread to empower young women to game, regardless of, or fighting against, the negative stereotypes that currently circulate the media regarding the term ‘girl gamers’.
WHICH MEDIA TEXTS INSPIRED YOUR PRODUCTION AND HOW.
In formatting the feature, I was conscious to design it to fit into SHOUT magazine and to be appealing to teenage girls. I bought an issue of SHOUT magazine itself, firstly, to see how they wrote articles as part of a campaign or on serious topics and, secondly, to see how they used text, colour and photographs in these pages. SHOUT magazine inspired much of my production in this way.
I decided to use pale blues, hot pinks and pastel lilac colours. The background was originally white, like a spread I saw in SHOUT magazine (above), but changed this to a ‘gamer’ themed background which was largely black. I felt that this made the content more eye-catching and interesting to see. I also chose to format certain pieces of text in a bold pink (compared to the black of the rest of the text) to highlight key quotes and statistics to readers.
Lastly, I added a campaign box in the bottom right-hand corner to encourage readers to continue discussion and react online via YouTube and Twitter. I created my own hashtags and came up with a YouTube challenge asking readers to upload a video of themselves explaining why they are a #proudgamer as I believed that this would continue the ideas suggested in the article and empower women to be proud gamers.
Other than formatting, there were many articles that I found throughout the media which showcased research on gender and gaming. These largely inspired my work and are explored below.
MY RESEARCH ON GAMING
As media is growing, so is the gaming industry; ‘video games are now more popular than television’ (Stargel, n.d.). Traditionally regarded as a male pastime, gaming, in recent years, has grown within female audiences (Jayanth, n.d.).
‘A study published… …by the Internet Advertising Bureau reveals that 52% of the gaming audience is made up of women. That’s right – the majority of people playing games are women’ (Jayanth, n.d.).
The industry however does not represent this with a ‘shockingly low’ ‘number of women working in the games industry’ (Jayanth, n.d.). This could account for the representation of women in video games, which are often portrayed as ‘damsels in distress’ (Kondrat, 2015) or;
‘stereotyped by being dressed in tight and provocative clothing, which showed their large breasts and long legs’ (Kondrat, 2015).
‘Gender representation in video games is a current sensitive topic in entertainment media.’ (Kondrat, 2015, p. 171)
Female characters in games are often not very ‘playable’ (Zorrilla, n.d.). It was not until 1996, that the first female protagonist was seen in the guise of Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) (Kondrat, 2015). Despite the popularity of this game, there is still a lack of strong and independent representations of women in video games (Kondrat, 2015).
‘Early video game advertising rarely featured women’ (Chess, Evans, & Baines, 2016, p. 4) which is important because adverts have the ‘ability to convey culturally enforced codes into popular media’ (Chess, Evans, & Baines, 2016, p. 3). In their research, Chess et al found that 43.9% of commercials featured both men and women but women were not always depicted as players (Chess, Evans, & Baines, 2016, p. 14).
‘Only 22 percent featured women playing the game, and 14 percent featured women talking about playing’ (Chess, Evans, & Baines, 2016, p. 15).
Female gamers are often stereotyped as being ‘incompetent players who aren’t genuinely interested in the games’ (Shen, 2016). ‘Men are simply better gamers than women’ (Shen, 2016) is a widely-held opinion. Many female gamers receive abuse because of these perceptions (BBC Newsbeat, 2016).
In my production, I tried to sum up the answers I found in the above research. I added a list of what the readers should do now (see an image of the ‘What do we do now?’ text box above) after my article. Losing the girl in girl gamer is important so that we lose the distinction between male and female gamers. Fighting against negative stereotypes is important as the research has proved that there are many, both of female gamers, and of females in general in regards to female characters. Empowering women is a large part of this so that they continue playing especially since they now make up most of the players consuming these products. It is also important to empower the readers of my magazine feature so that more women get involved in the gaming industry. By being in the industry women can work to change the negative representations. All of this will eventually and ultimately change the negative perception of females when it comes to video games.
Uses and gratifications theory is a theoretical approach that allows us ‘insight on the uses and impact of new communication technologies’ (Sherry, Lucas, Greenberg, & Lachlan, n.d., p. 231). This is a theory that makes sure not to assume that users are passive (Gill Branston 2010, p388).
USES AND GRATIFICATIONS IN GAMING
I decided to research the uses and gratifications of video gaming. Research started with Arcade gaming. Selnow, who conducted exploratory factor analysis, found five play factors:
‘(a) game play is preferable to human companions, (b) game play teaches about people, (c) game play provides companionship, (d) game play provides activity/action, and (e) game play provides solitude/escape. These five factors were significantly correlated with amount of game play.’ (Sherry, Lucas, Greenberg, & Lachlan, n.d., p. 216)
Later research conducted on modern gaming came up with the following list:
‘“to pass time,” “to avoid doing other things,” “to cheer oneself up,” and “just for enjoyment.”’ (Sherry, Lucas, Greenberg, & Lachlan, n.d., p. 216)
‘Vorderer, Hartmann, and Klimmt (2003) have argued that competition is the chief gratification obtained by playing video games.’ (Sherry, Lucas, Greenberg, & Lachlan, n.d., p. 216)
In studies about gender-based uses and gratifications, it was found that:
‘[F]emale players were less likely to be video game players, played for fewer hours, and did not seek out game-play situations for social interaction as much as male players did. Furthermore, female players also were less likely to enjoy game-play situations that involved three-dimensional rotation or games played for competition because they gained a lesser sense of control than they did in other interpersonal or play activities.’ (Lucas & Sherry, 2004, p. 517)
CONNECTING MY WORK TO THEORIES AND RESEARCH FROM THE MODULE
In this module, we have been reminded of feminist theory. This is a theory within sociology that takes ‘away from the male viewpoint’ (Crossman, 2016) and can shine ‘light on social problems [and] trends… that are otherwise overlooked’ (Crossman, 2016).
Within this project, I am particularly aware of feminist work, especially regarding Fourth Wave Feminism that aims to gain equality for both men and women. Much of their work concentrates on the ‘gender gap’ and issues of domestic violence. However, in my production piece, which is about gaming, I am concentrating on the empowerment of women as the video gaming community is largely perceived to be the domain of male players (Sherry, Lucas, Greenberg, & Lachlan, n.d.).
In the media, the representation of and stereotypes of women can be quite negative and detrimental and in many industries, despite women making up half of the population, white heterosexual males still retain dominant in higher career positions (Abrahams, 2016). The same can be seen within the gaming industries which has filtered down to a negative perception of females involved in the gaming community.
‘A lack of industry diversity, both in terms of gender as well as ethnicity, meant that for a long time, primarily white men have dominated the American-based video game industry’ (Chess, Evans, & Baines, 2016, p. 2)
The girl gamer, a named stereotype for female gamers, is a name that many audiences are familiar with. Girl gamers are ‘a ‘tomboy’ or a… geek with no social life’ (Mollie, 2014). Girl gamers are expected to look a certain way and behave a certain way, often they are over-sexualised or simply mocked for not being as good at gaming as men.
‘[R]einforcing negative stereotypes of female gamers negatively affects the game performance of girls and women who play video games.’ (HNGN, 2016)
By suggesting that we fight stereotypes in my production piece I have created media content that sees female gamers positively and can help them gain more respect and recognition.
A huge problem with stereotypes is that they reflect ideologies that are considered common sense and are largely accepted, even if people identify that stereotypes often misrepresent groups of people. Roland Barthes’ concept of the myth is about the ‘stories’ or ‘messages’ our culture perpetuates (Barthes, 1972/2009) and by understanding this, I can validate my production as something that needs to push back against the accepted norm.
Beverly Skeggs wrote about classed femininity. Femininity was associated with middle class white women who could present themselves as respectable through their appearance. They had superiority over those who lacked femininity and those people gained less respect (Skeggs, 1997, p. 99).
WHAT WORKS AND DOESN’T WORK ABOUT THE FINISHED PIECE
Overall, I am proud of the work I conducted for my production piece, especially given the limited resources and skills I used to construct it. I used software that was free to use, such as Microsoft Publisher, however if I were to recreate this production piece I would look at using Adobe Illustrator for a more professional finished look.
I feel it is important to develop my skills using various software if I am to become a versatile media professional. While I am familiar with Microsoft Publisher, I have little knowledge of Adobe Illustrator and only a basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. If I were to develop these skills to enhance the look of my magazine feature spread overall, but also to enhance the professionality of my photographs too.
During the photography process I used the Canon G16 and it takes photographs of good quality which I was pleased with. What I would change about this part of my production, though, is the setting of the photographs. The large windows of my flat meant that the photographs were quite often either back-lit or over-exposed therefore lessening the quality of my shots. Additionally, because my flat is not a professional set or photography studio some of the backgrounds were distracting and messy. However, I thought that I positioned my models well, using the props of the bed, the sofa and even the stairs, to create interesting and aesthetically pleasing shots, while they pretended to use gaming props to make themselves appear as gamers.
WHAT YOUR ETHICAL AND HEALTH & SAFETY PROCESS WAS
With ethics, I had only to consider consent, and only in regards to the survey. My survey was not going to cause harm or distress to the individuals who answered it so I concentrated only on making sure I received consent. I made a consent form (appendix 2) in case I conducted the survey face-to-face with individuals, however, because I used Survey Monkey, I conducted the survey over the internet. This meant that individuals were made aware that when they answered the survey they granted consent to their answers being used in the research for my magazine feature spread.
Similarly, there was not much to consider in the way of health and safety as I was conducting production with a small group of colleagues in my own flat. I ensured that I conducted a risk assessment (appendix 3) which was signed off by my module leader to ensure that I was safe to go ahead with my production.
RISK ASSESSMENT FORM
TO SEE MY INITIAL IDEAS POST – Please Click Here
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