03. The relationship between producers and their audience

Unit 6 Assignment one – The relationship between producers and their audiences.

————————————————- Introduction —————————————————

Audiences are individuals or a collective group of people who interact and consume with any type of new media product such as video games. The types of media that audiences consume can be anything from a YouTube video to reading an online article.

Without these strong types of audiences media products such as magazines and online articles would have no purpose on the digital and physical market today. A developer would not be able to consume a regular profit if the audience was not watching, reading or playing on their product on a regular basis as they do today. For example a video game developer wouldn’t make any profit without the consumers (us) purchasing and playing their video game and thus they make profit but without us this would cease to exist.

Another example would be YouTube videos, without the viewers watching the content that someone has made they’re not going to be earning a profit like to do today because there content they’ve created isn’t being watched. 

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Today ‘media’ is growing much more larger as a whole industry with gaming, and mobile gaming becoming more prominent on the market because audiences such as gamers and casual gamers have easy access to apps and video games on their phones. To add another point this market is becoming more competitive which results in the developers trying to find different and new ways in which they can interact with their audiences.

This is the main reason why companies such as Nintendo and Google now categorize audiences in different types of categories such as Gender and Sexual orientation. The main purpose for this categorization is to determine what types of content and what types of people are going to be receiving the content that developers are creating, whether that be for a mobile app, a game or even a television programme.

The Twilight saga is targeted towards more of a female audience because of it’s certain storylines compared to Top gear that is targeted to a more male audience because cars and motor vehicles are seen to be more of a “Male” oriented interest.  

————————————————- Mainstream/Niche ——————————————

To begin game developers in particular categorize a product as hitting a niche or a mainstream audience this is because it determines what kind of players do play the video game for example not everyone is going to be playing Zoo Tycoon whereas there are quite a lot of “gamers” that do play games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield because the previous two are mainstream games compared to Zoo tycoon which is targeted to more of a niche audience because of the certain gameplay mechanics the game has to offer.

In addition this is because the gameplay mechanics in games such as Call of Duty and Zoo tycoon are very different in scale and in seriousness, it’s the same with other media categorizations a niche audience is a smaller population that has a very unique set of interests like Zoo tycoon where as a mainstream audience has the same interests as a lot of other individuals which is regarded as the most typical interests in media.

A niche audience watch things such as Downton Abbey whereas the mainstream audience watch things such as sport and reality programmes because they’re the most typically liked programmes on television or else where.

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Furthermore when talking about a mainstream audience we expect them to be interested in something that someone standing next to them would be interested in or something distinctively similar. For example a mainstream audience within gaming would be the Call of Duty audience which as a franchise the game has a mainstream audience because most of all the Call of Duty players are interested in shooting different things in a multiplayer aspect or a story mode first person shooter full of story.

To add another point a mainstream audience would be the overall audience in a certain market, an example of this would be gamers. There is now 50% of ‘gamers’ that play mobile app video games on their smart phones such as Temple Run and Minion Rush and console gamers that play big games like Call of Duty and Shadows of Mordor. In addition there are gamers that play video games on the 3DS which would be seen as a niche audience because they are specifically interested in something that typically not everyone is interested in, some would say that the WiiU is for a niche market because it’s not typically seen as a popular console in the gaming market to some gamers.

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Clearly most of the gaming market is directed at a mainstream audience this is obviously because most gamers are going to enjoy the gameplay aspects or story because it’s typically seen as something everyone else will enjoy. Whereas something like Starcraft is directed at a niche audience because not everyone will enjoy the play style and top down gameplay that Starcraft has to offer. It’s played by a different gamer and not just the typical gamer that will be playing games like the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises.

Finally directing a video game or any type of media at a certain audience will benefit both sides whether that’s a mainstream or niche audience this is because both sides have their disadvantages and advantages because not everyone is going to enjoy everything and it’s nice to be able to split the audiences into two categories like niche and mainstream.

Smaller examples: 

A niche audience is a small selected group of people that have a very unique interest for example collectors of trading cards that are not produced anymore.

Niche: CBBC  Mainstream: BBC ONE

A mainstream audience is a group of people, activities or ideas that are regarded as the most typical option because others have the same interests as them.

———————————————– Sexual Orientation ——————————————–

Sexual orientation within media and gaming is becoming more of a popular topic within the industry because of the amount of gamers that want characters that are not just your typical male character that has a muscular body that is interested in women or a female that is weak and the only thing in her storyline is for her to fall in love with a male hero.

Sexual orientation in the gaming industry means that game developers and media producers are developing their products to suit all sexual orientations such as a non-heterosexual audience that wants to choose to be a female character and to be in love with a female character within the virtual world. Game developers and media producers are giving that option for users that are non-heterosexual to allow them to feel like the game or product suits their needs as a player or a customer.

Examples of where sexual orientation has been used affectively would be in video games where you are able to pick what sex you want to portray as in the virtual world, this is mainly seen in MMO’s and video games like Mass Effect and now the Call of Duty franchise which allows you to be either a male or female character depending on what your preference is at that time of creating that certain character.

Viewer discretion is advised:

As shown the developers of Mass Effect three allowed their players to explore different routes in which there characters could take, whether they were a female or male character they had the option to be non-heterosexual character or a heterosexual character which gives the players the freedom that appeals to a non-heterosexual audience that plays video games like Mass Effect three.

Finally sexual orientation has been driven by television soaps as well such as EastEnders because it appeals to a part of their target audience because of a certain storyline within the show that allows their target audience too feel like they are covering everyone’s personal needs by showing different sexual orientations in a storyline.

————————————————– Regional Identity ——————————————-

Regional identity is used in all kinds of different things but is also used in gaming if the developers want to aim the video game at a certain religion or country or region for example a game that is prominently known for this would sport games such as Fifa and NCAA Football because it allows the player access to play as different countries and regions such as Liverpool and Spain which creates a sense of regional identity to the player playing as their home town/city or country because they can relate to things such as their footballs kits and players that are in their national/local team.

A developer/producer will sell their video game or piece of media to everyone within the chosen area for example a game that is targeted for regional identity in Liverpool will be targeted to people from and around the Liverpool area for common reason that they will buy the product because of that sense of regional pride for the city of Liverpool.

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Furthermore when talking about regional identity that also includes religion as a common factor. A good example of the use of regional identity for this would in the television sitcom Citizen Khan set in Birmingham. This follows the trials and tribulations of the Khan family which is ran by appointed Muslim community leader Mr Khan. This gives a sense of regional identity because they’re using a religion to be a part within the comedy series itself this then gives it a niche and mainstream audience as well because it links between audiences that are interested in sitcoms as well as appealing to the Muslim audience.

There are advantages and disadvantages of Regional Identity. An advantage would be that many people will be able to play as or watch someone from or in their region. A disadvantage would be not all regions or religions in the world can be included in a game so those who don’t have their region or religion within the game or television programme may feel left out by the producers which could result in them not buying the game or eventually stop watching a television sitcom like Citizen Khan.

—————————————————— Age ——————————————————–

Age is used to determine all kinds of different things within media products such as gaming and television this is seen within television. For example BBC three is targeted towards a much more older audience because it has programmes such as Family guy and Bluestone 42 which has more of a serious sense of humor compared to a television channel such as CBBC which is targeted to more of a younger audience because of the audiences that will be watching an animation programme such as Scooby doo compared to family guy which has a dramatic different in sense of humor and style.

In addition not all things that are produced in media are suitable for a younger audience because they have been categorized towards an older audience such as family guy would have been with the sense of humor that they produce compared to something such as a CBBC programme that will be catered to that audience age group.

Categorizing age for marketing is a good thing for game developed and media producers though, this will allow them to see which part of the market in age group is most popular and how to market their product or video game towards depending on the research they obtain because of the different age groups that do play video games. To add this is clearly seen in video games like Call of Duty and Shadows of Mordor because it contains violence and language not suitable for a younger audience.

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Furthermore age is very diversifying just like Gender. Babies, children, toddlers, teenagers and young adults are all different categories that you can use to create media and video games. For example a child or a toddler would be categorized to something such as CBBC rather than a young adult would be targeted to BBC one rather than a younger targeted audience that would be watching CBBC.

In addition to targeting television channels to the correct age group like CBBC and other television channels are tuned for this also makes an appearance within the gaming industry for example the Lord of the Rings video games. Developers have created different video games for the Middle-earth saga which would consist of the Lego games compared to the more serious Lord of the Rings games War in the North and Shadows of Mordor. All of these products have been targeted to different age groups because of the different art styles and seriousness within the different games.

Age categorization is a massive part to play within video game development because of one clear consistent reason, the developers need to know who the game is being targeted at because then they can understand what type of game they are creating and developing whether it’s a Lego game that’s going to be targeted towards a younger audience because of it’s less serious graphics and storyline compared to a game such as Shadows of Mordor. These two examples are good to use because they show clear differences between the two age groups they are trying to counter with these types of video games.

Rating Categories for movies, video games etc.

ratings

—————————————————- Gender —————————————————–

Gender is used in all kinds of different media types including gaming and magazines. Developers use gender as a categorization because they may want to concentrate on one subject matter or create a male/female leading character within a video game or film. In addition gender categorization is used in things such as magazines like heat and Men’s health because each of these magazines have been categorized to suit either a male or female audience because of the topics that they cover within the magazine itself.

For example a magazine like Men’s health is targeted and categorized towards a male audience because of it’s content about male fitness and other areas of interests that only mainly appeal to men whereas the heat magazine is clearly targeted towards the more female audience because of it’s content within the heat magazine is more of a thing that women would typically read because it’s the latest fashion trends, relationship gossip that all make the heat magazine more of a female orientated magazine.

Compared to magazines and different television shows, gender categorization is used in a few different things as well such as whether a game developer would want to make their main character within their game a female or male to appeal to more of a female or male audience because the selected gender type of the character is representing a portion of their targeted audience. A character that springs to mind when talking about gender categorization within media products would be the female lead in Tomb Raider.

Lara Croft (female character) is the leading role within all Tomb Raider and Lara Croft products this is for a distinguished reason to be able to appeal to more of a female audience because she is taking back the fight against other men which shows of a different side to a female character that is not much as seen in the entertainment industry today because of the big hulking male characters that seem to always get the spotlight.

In addition Lara Croft/Tomb Raider is going to be appealing to not just a female audience but a male audience as well because of the way she as a character is portrayed. This is appealing to a female audience because they can relate to something that the main character is doing because they are of that gender type.

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Female typical media types:

  • Loose women, Sex in the City, Lara Croft, Next top model.

Male typical media types:

  • Top Gear, Sky Sports, The expendables, Fast and Furious.

—————————————– Psychographics and lifestyle ————————————

Psychographics and lifestyles are categorized within all media products whether that’s in a video game or even a newspaper article psychographics and the audiences lifestyle are all categorized for one specific reason, so that they are reading what they want to read.

To elaborate more an explorer may not want to read about the housing market in the daily mail whereas a succeeder or mainstreamer may want to know what the newest hot prices are on the housing market because they are of a different mind frame to one another.

Psychographics are mainstreamers, aspirer’s, succeeder’s, reformers and explorers. Within the media categories mainstreamers take up at least 40% of the market which is not likely to do different things from their normal day to day schedule, whereas aspirer’s wish to be succeeder’s and have expensive items and care about how they’re presented.

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Furthermore this types of categorization is used in video game development one game that stands out the most in letting the player choose how their character lives and where they live would be the Sims game because it allows the player to immerse themselves within a world just like their own but they haven’t got the struggles of life as they may or may not within the real world. This is the disadvantage to having a game like this because some players may not be able to afford something that is within the game which could result in them quitting or not even buying the game at all.

An advantage to someone that likes to play the Sims games would be that if they had a certain hobby within their life they are allowed to make their Sims have that same hobby which will make players feel more connected with the game because they can see that their certain or chosen sim is doing the same thing they would do in the real world.

Another game that is interesting to talk about would be the recently released game featuring Bear Grills ‘Man VS Wild‘ this would appeal to a niche audience like explores because the aim of the game is to play as Bear Grylls and survive within the wilderness, fighting snakes, crocodiles and finding food to make sure you can survive the night can appeal to a niche audience like explores because they may want to be in the same position as he is in so this game gives them a window into that sort of situation.

Finally video games and all media products are going to appeal to a niche and a mainstream audience for different reasons, they may want to get to a hardest goal within a video game that only achievers can think off whereas a succeeder or a mainstreamer may want to build a large house within a game like Sims to replicate their real life.

————————————————- Social class ————————————————–

Social class is used within all media types from news articles to video game design for significant reasons for example a newsletter like ‘The Guardian’ wouldn’t appeal to a lower class audience because they typically wouldn’t be interested into politics and world conflicts whereas someone in a higher class region (Doctor or a judge) may want to be up to date on world conflicts and politics because of their high class position.

A game developer may take social class into consideration when thinking about how much they are going to price their games for to hit a certain class of audience. The gaming community is largely populated by B to D grade social class members because they all can some what afford to buy video games and they all have some what of a good amount of time to invest themselves into different video games that they are going to purchase whereas someone in the A and E categorization may not have the funds or the time to purchase a video game like Sims because of their lifestyle that they lead.

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Something else to note within the gaming industry things such as skin packs, patches and DLC’s are something else a video game developer or company has to consider when developer a game such as League of Legends because not everyone is going to be able to purchase different skin and customization packs because they may be to expense for someone in a lower class to afford. So other companies such as Sledgehammer games allow the players to purchase the game and then a season pass if they so choose to keep the cost down to players that may not be able to pay for a season pass but they are still able to enjoy the video game content either way.

Finally this segment is split into different small groups which are individually graded from A through to E. Grade A is also known as the ‘upper middle-class’ as well this audience type have high influence within the working zone this is usually people with well paid job roles. (Judges and Dentists are examples of A rated jobs) Grade B is also know as the middle-class this segment usually represents audiences with well paid roles with management such as doctors, grade C1 is the lower middle-class, these people have jobs that are refereed to as average jobs based on individual skill sets such as nurses and plumbers.

—————————————————- Ethnicity —————————————————-

Ethnicity is heavily used within video games this is seen more prominently in multiplayer games like World of Warcraft because it allows the player to customize their character however they so choose to depending on what race or skin colour they may have or may want to have within the world of Azeroth. Other games allow you to customize your characters gender or skin tone to appeal to a much more broader audience because the player is allowed choice within the game of what ethnicity they want which appeals to every type of gamer because there is no racism shown towards different skin tones etc.

This is good marketing within a media product such as a video game because it’s going to be able to appeal to a wide audience rather than a niche audience because they can only have one certain race or skin colour a video game that is also allows players to choose their own ethnicity within a game would be Sims which allows the players to choose what types of characters they would like within their gaming world.

There are advantages and disadvantages of having different races and skin tones available to players because not only can others be discriminate with that power given to them by the developers sometimes certain ethnicities can be offended by how their skin colour is portrayed within a video game like sims. An advantage to having different ethnicities within a game like sims is that is opens the game up to a wider audience.

 

One thought on “03. The relationship between producers and their audience

  1. Pingback: The relationship between producers and their audience (PMD1) | Euwin John Theoabald's game dev blog

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