PHASEgaming

Jason Pook's Games Design Blog


Leave a comment

CATS Log Book Entry 4.5- Session 4 revisit (1/11/13)

This log book is actually lesson 5 of our CATS work but because we started the lesson by recapping and making additions to logbook entry 4 I am going to do this as a separate logbook to session 5 so the topics are not confused with each other.

After a quick recap: We started with a few key terms about Modernism:

•Modernity: The experience of modern life
•Modernisation: The process of change that causes ‘modernity’
•Modernism: The reaction to the experience of modernity in the cultural sphere (positive/negative)
We then talked about modernism and its defining factors which were: industrialisation, social changes, new technologies and scientific advances and finally political changes. All factors which are explained in my previous log book on why they were such defining factors. Things I learnt from this lecture: a lot really I was a bit on the confused side when it came to the idea behind modernism I knew about it as you can see the technological advancements behind it but to know in depth what its about and what things were the ignition to most of it is a thing I never took the time to involve myself in. Things like the first skyscraper, the first people captured photograph and the first shopping arcade were just things I didn’t know about or I didn’t realise the significance behind them as they are the starting points of the future as it is now e.g. for camera they are now instant capture most of them digital and how 12x optical zoom on certain models. it was interesting to after this lecture go do some individual research on top of this on industrialisation as the lecture made me realise how little I knew on the topic the websites I visited are at the bottom linked in related content. My analysis task did relate in a way as it was relevant to the political changes as when I discussed the topic of children’s intake of the violence in the video games its a topic that has been politically discussed for many years now whether it affects them mentally or not to be violent.
That’s the recap there so now we moved onto the additions to that session which began with mass communication. There have been six clear advances in areas of communication which have emerged through historical and social changes, these six are:
  • Writing
  • Printing
  • Mass Media
  • Entertainment
  • The Tool-shed (Home)
  • The Highway

Mass communication has become a vital and  seamless part of everyday human life. Today’s society is dependent on mass  communication, from morning television news to social media feeds and  blog posts; from personalized advertising messages to branded content sponsored  by a specific company. Messages sent by mass communicators help inform the  public and often help set agendas and public opinion. Mass communicators help  people develop an understanding of social problems and make informed decisions.  The general public is dependent on mass communication for information about  goods and services available for purchase or use.

The next step was what do we mean by mass? this was answered for us with a reference to ‘More than Words: A Introduction to Communication.’:

•‘The system is the organisation that does the communicating, such as the postal service or the radio broadcasting network.’
•‘The product is the object produced or carried by the system.’
•‘The audience may also number thousands or millions.’
•‘The mass-production of messages also means mass-repetition of messages.’
We then moved on to ‘the television and its effect’.
###############tvHere we have a picture of a family sitting round a television in the 1950’s, they look totally mesmerised by it lost in the world of the television, the family come together to gather round this television and enjoy it this piece of entertainment is to become one of todays most popular household appliances with most house now having more than one (my house has 5, living room, kitchen, 3bedrooms not to mention the old ones not plugged in when we have upgraded a prime example of modernism upgrading to newer television from old e.g. plasma to led.)
the slide shown to us listed the television and its effects with a useful quote from a Raymond Williams:
Raymond Williams: ‘Television was invented as the result of scientific and technical research.’ 1990
this quote sums up modernism as the progress to be better and create new things made technicians and scientists research into this particular area to bring us the television which then was a series of slits and rotating wheels to make an image appear in 1925 as a receiver and now is Ultra High definition 3D border lining what looks like you are just looking through your house window and its all happening outside.
Effects:
• Altering all preceding media of news and entertainment.
• Altering our institutions and forms of social relationships.
• Altering our basic perception of reality and our relationships with each other.
• Altering the scale and form of our society (mobility).
• Change to central processes of family, culture and society.
• Creates centralised opinions and behaviours.
• Promotes domestic consumer economy.
• Effect on viewer- greater passivity.
• Produces a new kind of large-scale and complex but ‘atomised’ society.
We then moved onto a book called ‘Theorising Mass Communication: Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage, 1968’ which sums up Raymond Williams words in much more detail on the effects of mass communication and the modernism process with the effects and alterations it brings to our lives. Society is shaped more by the media it uses to communicate than the content of its communications was a mini extract from the book. It turns out the title containing the word Massage was a typo as it was supposed to be Message but Marshall wanted to keep it to emphasise the effect that the media has on us.
We rounded up the lecture with a man called Sigmund Freud. Freud was an Austrian psychiatrist who revolutionised psychology and invented the therapy of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a theory of the human mind, a therapy for mental distress, an instrument of research and a profession. A complex intellectual, medical and sociological phenomenon’ his theories can be linked with modernism.


1 Comment

CATS Log Book Entry 4 (25/10/13)

This lesson was about “Contextualising Digital Culture 1: Histories”. We started with a few key terms about Modernism:

•Modernity: The experience of modern life
•Modernisation: The process of change that causes ‘modernity’
•Modernism: The reaction to the experience of modernity in the cultural sphere (positive/negative)
Modernism is the cultural renegotiation of what is new, what is modern and what is not. After learning and discussing a few things about our own Modernity like recently the man who jumped from the edge of the atmosphere using modern technology to keep him alive and become the only man to ever do it, and the theories and views behind modern climate with global climate change e.g. icecaps melting and more extreme weather etc. We then was asked what do we mean by modernism? obviously we had the definition down but that was not the question, none of us was really sure but we all thought it was something to do with the industrial revolution with the advancement of production/ technology emerging. The answer was: The period between roughly 1880 and 1960, A move away from art trying to realistically represent the subject – developments in practice and innovation. So I was wrong partially as the industrial revolution was up to 1830 but no doubt this event inspired modernism to be achieved as advancement has always been a part of the human existence.
We then proceed onto discussing what were the factors that defined modernism, these factors were:

1.....buildingIndustrialisation: A period which involved things such as, mass production, the building of more cities, emergence of different types of jobs/ work due to it, of the 3 original sector classifications industrialisation was the expansion mainly of the second sector which was manufacturing and processing. much of the processes of industrialisation was power by the new technology of coal power rather than pre industrialisation which was the likes of wood burning or water power etc. This mass production method is still clearly in existence with relevance to my area of study of games GTA V sold $1billion worth of games in the first 3weeks of launch.

the black and white image is the first skyscraper project performed in Germany due to industrialisation. (Mies van der Rohe, Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper Project, Berlin, Germany, 1919- 1921.)

2. .....arcadeSocial Changes: The changes of industrialisation affected social aspects as urbanism increased which is the development of the modern city and its population, the rise of leisure and the alternations in leisure activities such as gaming itself or computer use especially when you bring up the fact that 45% of the gaming industry is now female (http://www.theesa.com/facts/gameplayer.asp) and the planet spends 3billion hours a week playing games so that’s a huge social change from the days before video games and the impact gaming has had on the world. The second black and white picture is of Burlington arcade, the worlds first shopping arcade in 1819. The world first video game SpaceWar by Steve Russell is a prime example of modernism and its beginnings as then we had SpaceWar! now we have the likes of Killzone: Shadow Fall the most visually amazing game I have ever come across.

.............image photo3. New technologies and scientific advances: The introduction of new innovative technologies such as, photography, computers, filming, transport, electricity, travel and speed, scientific theories, art materials, communication and printing. Probably the most iconic technological breakthrough had to be Thomas Edison in 1879 with the invention of the light bulb and electricity due to it, here is a good quote about the light bulb:

‘The light bulb had to a happen due to wider changes in society.’ – Vincent Miller
This suggests that without the light bulb society and modernism would have just continued as it was nothing would have advanced, as you can see this is evident as quite a lot of today’s technology is powered by electricity e.g. TV’s, Laptops, toasters, light bulbs, digital items, chargers and so on, clearly the light bulb and electricity was a huge breakthrough resulting in modernism advancing due to it. Technology today is produced for a purpose like to advance society, personal gain in financial status, bring about a certain condition in the future or solve a problem, all things that are fundamentals in todays world. The image I entered for point number 3 is a photograph of Paris but it is considered to be the first photograph to have people in, it was done by light exposure back then so things had to be very still for a long period of time to pick them up and the 2 people involved in shoe shining was still long enough to be captured. (Louis Daguerre, View of a Paris Boulevard  1839).
4. Political Changes: events such as the World War 1 and 2, views such as communism, fascism and racism, changes in rights so suffragettes woman’s evolving rights, a evolve in public challenging traditional authority (votes, riots, movements etc.). Things such as the World Wars have lead to inspiration and conflict in games such as Call of Duty and other violence related war games being produced. In Korea there is a division in there army that teaches them how to fight inn combat to test there skills by playing computer games, also the new technologies of the likes of drones and remote controlled vehicles has allowed armies to just sit safe at base whilst completing operations on a computer screen just like a game. advancing technology was always the focus during the World Wars each side wanted to have the upper hand, invention of machine guns, tanks, jets, helicopter and so on all killing machines designed to beat the enemy.#machine gun This image on the left is a painting (Christopher Nevinson, Machine Gun,  1915) First/ Second World War – official war artists sought to depict the human relationship between the technology of war and its destruction. It wasn’t only artists who did this the TV show Blackadder did a series on the World War although it was designed to be humorous about the War it did end in a heart wrenching manner with them all being shot down by the enemy machine gun under direct orders to “go over the top” as it was called but not to shoot back just slowly walk towards the enemy, this idea was clearly mad as it lead in destruction but the TV show perfectly displayed the destruction behind the war and its technology in this scene.
Things I learn from this lecture: a lot really I was a bit on the confused side when it came to the idea behind modernism I knew about it as you can see the technological advancements behind it but to know in depth what its about and what things were the ignition to most of it is a thing I never took the time to involve myself in. Things like the first skyscraper, the first people captured photograph and the first shopping arcade were just things I didn’t know about or I didn’t realise the significance behind them as they are the starting points of the future as it is now e.g. for camera they are now instant capture most of them digital and how 12x optical zoom on certain models. it was interesting to after this lecture go do some individual research on top of this on industrialisation as the lecture made me realise how little I knew on the topic the websites I visited are at the bottom linked in related content. My analysis task did relate in a way as it was relevant to the political changes as when I discussed the topic of children’s intake of the violence in the video games its a topic that has been politically discussed for many years now whether it affects them mentally or not to be violent.
This rounded up our lecture as we each then had individual tutorials on our visual analysis task, which I felt went very well for myself my tutor said she felt I did a very good job of the work and that I covered the bullet points set in the brief for this particular analysis task well with useful backing up of my points when using my own personal opinions. Which was good as I didn’t have to repeat the task to improve or edit my work as it was evident I had understood previous lectures well to do with the analysis. Then I showed her my log book entries just as a check up on the work I have been doing and to see if I am on the right path, this also went well as she said the detail and depth of the work is of a good standard as well as my individual related posts research on each of the log books, but she did say I need to reflect more on what I learnt in the lessons.


Leave a comment

CATS Logbook Entry 3- 18/10/13

In this session of CATS we was introduced to semiotics. Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols, the official definition is “The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation”, basically how we read signs. Using semiotics there are multiple ways to read signs, for example: colour (red danger/passion, white peace/purity), body language (posture, slouched, straight, hunch), combination of colours, Text (use of font, size, colour, bold, italics, underline) and so on really.

The definitions for the keywords we learned in the session of semiotics:

  • Semiology- The study of signs, signals, symbols, gestures and messages.
  • Semiotics- The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.
  • Signifier- a sign’s physical form (such as a sound, printed word, or image) as distinct from its meaning.
  • Signified- the meaning or idea expressed by a sign, as distinct from the physical form in which it is expressed.
  • Denote- be a sign of, indicate. simile.
  • Connote- imply or suggest (an idea or feeling) in addition to the literal or primary meaning. metaphor.
  • Arbitrary- based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.
  • Polysemy- the ambiguity of an individual word or phrase that can be used (in different contexts) to express two or more different meanings.

Semiotics give you a range of meanings to just a basic picture, you are basically deconstructing or decoding the works to find out through semiotics what the meanings or purpose of that particular part in an image could be.

We then briefly learnt about 3 people who were involved in the making of semiotics and the theories behind it,

Ferdinand de Saussure– In 1906 Saussure taught a course on General Linguistics at the University of Geneva. His teachings were so monumental his students published a document of them, using their lecture notes to guide them. He was interested in the state of language, moreover, ‘an understanding of the conditions for existence of any language’ and  the nature of the linguistic sign. From this he argued the linguistic sign or ‘unit’ was a two-sided entity. This he called a dyad (picture on the left). And this is what they define.#1Picture1

Signifier- a sign’s physical form (such as a sound, printed word, or image) as distinct from its meaning.

Signified- the meaning or idea expressed by a sign, as distinct from the physical form in which it is expressed.

The connection between the two is in fact what we call arbitrary meaning based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.
Charles Saunders Peirce– Peirce’s Sign Theory, or Semiotic was an advanced version of Saussure, is an account of signification, representation, reference and meaning. Peirce’s accounts are distinctive  for capturing the importance of interpretation to signification (signifier/signified). For Peirce, developing a theory of signs was a central focus. The importance of semiotic for Peirce is wide ranging. As he himself said,
“[…] it has never been in my power to study anything,—mathematics, ethics, metaphysics, gravitation, thermodynamics, optics, chemistry, comparative anatomy, astronomy, psychology, phonetics, economics, the history of science, whist, men and women, wine, metrology, except as a study of semiotic” (SS 1977, 85–6).
 He argued with Saussure’s work, that rather than being a dyad, the linguistic sign consists of a triple relation between the sign the object and the referent. Peirce proposed 3 categories that we could identify between signs and objects:
An Icon- ‘where the sign relates to its object in some resemblance with it, i.e. a photograph’. It physically resembles what it stands for.
A Symbol- ‘where the sign relates to its object by means of convention alone, e.g.  word, a flag’. Relates to via social convention.
An Index- ‘where the sign relates to its object in terms of causation, e.g. sundial, paw print, medical symptom’. It correlates with or points to.
So leading from this a sign can be iconic, symbolic and indexical.
Roland Barthes– Barthes was interested in the connotations of meaning in an article he published called “Mythologies” he explored the denotations of popular cultural French signs, he argued that certain signs betrayed their convention as they are myths, this is how connotations are constructed. his ideas were very similar to that of Peirce in that icon, symbol and index was changed by Barthes to Linguistic message, Coded iconic message and Non-coded iconic message so a more insightful look into semiotics with these 3 steps.
An example of an icon (Icon definition- a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.) would have to be people that inspired other and changed a generation, so musically iconic is like Elvis the king of rock and roll is iconic, scientific would be Albert Einstein with all his theories and discoveries, boxing Muhammad Ali, or political like Ghandi. And so on there are many icons in this world and some people have personal preferences to who is an icon to them.
A symbol example would be just to give one, the cross of Jesus Christ, this is probably the most symbolic symbol in the religious world of Christianity for many reasons and it is a symbol of the sacrifices he made for our race.
An index example is where the sign relates to its object in terms of causation, e.g. sundial, paw print, medical symptom or a clock, it correlates or points to something.
#1mario1We was then shown this picture of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS, In the picture we was told how semiotics works and to also put our own input in. The idea of the main character Mario is going in the right direction is a sign of good as the direction right is often symbolised with moving forward, whereas all the bad characters the Goombas and the rocket bullet are heading in the left direction which is symbolised as going backwards/ wrong way in a side scrolling game like this. The use of bright colours for Mario the reds, blues and yellows for his outfit suggest he is the good guy, with a slight powerful edge to him in the colour red. The colourful background gives us an idea of the target market which would be the younger generation but as we know Mario was so successful its an all ages played game. The enemies of the Goombas are brown which is suggesting dull, boring and not essential so they can be stomped on. This is giving you an idea of how semiotics can be used to analyse an image, it may not be intended for that purpose but using semiotics we get all this information about what’s going on relatively simply. (Here is one I did on Marlboro).
This is bringing the session to an end so here is what I personally took away from this lesson:
I learnt the basics of semiotics and what they symbolise, the purpose of semiotics, the history behind semiotics with people like Roland Barthes. Overall the most I learnt was how I can personally use semiotics in day to day situations to get hidden meaning behind e.g. a film poster or a game cover. Just by using semiotics you can get a rough idea on what it may involve like darkness or danger in a superhero film, or like previously shown in Mario multiple things just in one shot of a level. Since then we have used semiotics multiple times in other non CATS related sessions (Graphics and signs) to study semiology and maybe why the company has chosen to represent themselves that way.


1 Comment

Log Book Entry Two: 11/10/13

In Fridays CATS lesson it was all mainly based on the word Analysis and what it means. The definition for analysis is “a detailed examination of the elements or structure of something”. Once we had discovered this we had multiple debates about gaming as it is today, the particular focus being Grand Theft Auto. The Grand Theft Auto series has spanned over 16years featuring 15games on multiple platforms the most recent being Grand Theft Auto V, it is a game which you can do everything you shouldn’t do in real life such as heavy violence, murder, gang war, drugs, robberies and much more violent related content. The discussion was one that troubles todays world as a big debate which is: Are video games related to violence? we had much debate on this with many opinions of why it is and isn’t, whether its the parents fault for buying their children these game when the game is rated 18 with one particular student being 4 when he first played Grand Theft Auto. So I decided to do some research on this and found many interesting topics on it, one being extremely shocking and not doing the game any favours a man was stabbed for collecting his pre order and had it stolen. This topic of nature versus nurture is one that will continue for many years, here’s an interesting article on the topic.

After this we was given a short clip of Space Odyssey to analyse

We w\s asked to get into groups and use our analysis skills to give feedback to the rest of the class on what we had found. My groups 3 topics to look at was Sound, Movement and Time. All of these topics linked together as the common theme was the speed which was all very slow, there was lots of tension built by this and the background sounds of a hiss which we perceived to be oxygen or a hissing pipe, the main sound of the clip was the voice of Hal 9000 and him trying to stop Dave from deactivating him, this was all very monotone and emotionless. The movement was slow as Dave had zero gravity to deal with as well as a precise operation to undertake to deactivate Hal. Then time was slow as it felt to us the time dragged due to the focus required on the clip and other elements which felt like the deactivation took longer than it did.

These analytical skills we had just used was a taster for us as to our next set of homework for CATS, which was to choose an image and write a comprehensive analysis (500 words) on it.

#gta-5-online-gameplayTo do this I have begun research on the game I have chosen which is one of my favourite games at this time and will have many opinions to it Grand Theft Auto V. I am researching it by analysing the visuals of the game and also the gameplay and why Rockstar may have chose to make the game this way.

I will also use my background research on the game to link it to social and historical context. So this is the beginning of my research.


Leave a comment

Log Book Entry One: 4/10/13 CATS

In our first lesson for CATS (Critical and Theoretical Studies) we was given an introduction to what we would be doing in CATS, this involved learning the history, theories and perspectives of Games Design to give us a “toolbox of information” about our chosen course. We will study others to give us inspiration which we will also critic.

For our first exercise we was given  multiple pictures and asked to us what they meant to our subject, for example there was a range of pictures from the Magnavox Odyssey (the first household games console) to the iPad (the all in one tablet). We decided as a group to individually discuss each picture and how it was relevant.

Then we was asked how Cultural artefact, Material culture, Media practice and Form of entertainment was relevant to Games Design, first off as a group we identified they all are in some way. Cultural artefact– The history and future of gaming shapes cultures of all ages due to the social participation and how it brings people together, for example: women’s role in gaming. Material culture– that a game has evolved into a social gathering online to speak and play co operatively. Media practice– one of the largest industries in the world with around 70% of people play video games. Form of entertainment– Goes without saying really one of the most prominent forms of entertainment around with around 3billion hours a week spent gaming as a planet.

We was then asked our opinions of what we believe the relationship is between a game and a gamer. This is not a straight forward question to answer due to it is totally reliant on both the game (emotional, shooter, adventure etc.) and the gamer (regular, occasional, rarely or hard-core) these factors both play a part in how engaged the gamer will be in the game so it totally depends on the situation.

After this we watched this TED lecture by Kevin Kelly on How technology evolves

Once we had watched this we was given our brief and some homework. The homework set was some keywords and also was to bring in a picture which to me personally meant gaming, I have chose to pick a childhood system which to this day is the reason why I am so passionate about gaming and have chosen to pursue it as a career, The PlayStation 1. This system was bought for me when I was just 2years old and I enjoyed many hours on games such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro, which are still my favourite games to this day.