Monday, June 30, 2008

"Media Analysis in the High-Intensity Marketplace: The Three Circuits of Interactivity" Article

The reading for today was "Media Analysis in the High-Intensity Marketplace: The Three Circuits of Interactivity" by Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Witheford, and Greig de Peuter. They address multiple angles in their analysis of media that include media theory: time/space bias, political economy, and cultural studies. Then they present the three-circuits model to show how all these concepts come together.
First, they talk about media theory and Innis' theories regarding it. They adopt Innis' concepts of the "bias" of communication technologies, their role in the rise of fall of "empires", and their relation to "oligopolies of knowledge." Innis says the media effects the perception of time and space. Info can be sent over great distance and some can preserve memory. Then, they discuss Innis' idea of the oligopoly of knowledge by those who create the new media by exercising their political and economic control over it. Then they introduce the ideas of McLuhan. He states that the notion of media an extension of our senses. As it applies to games, games should be a medium of communication and games (the example of NBA Live) translate the game at the virtual level to the reality of hand/eye coordination and screen navigation. Then, the authors go on to criticize McLuhan saying the he doesn't pay attention to the relations of social power that structure media (resources to be able to afford games), and criticizing that "media is the message" overlooks content issues (gender, violence, etc).
Next, they talk about the political economy and Marxist ideals. They go into depth about Garnham's ideas, that the role of media can be seen under two aspects. Media industries are themselves businesses, selling information and entertainment to consumers, with their own interest in speeding the process by which these commodities reach the buyers. This is media saturation of innovations. And Garnham says mass media are the bearers of advertising. This is the view that the market is oversaturated with media which contributes to the "mediatized" marketplace. With the case study of video games, the authors state that political economists haven't addressed games and are ignored because of their perception as being mindless entertainment.
Next, they look at cultural studies. They talk about how media influences our culture and how video games such as Tomb Raider can convey messages about culture regarding gender, consumerism, etc. They also bring to my attention the interpretation factor, in that all consumers won't interpret the same messages from the same media. For example, I take a different message away after playing GTA than a concerned parent would. The criticize cultural studies as well saying they don't address the specific qualities of new media (what makes video games different), they underplay the commercial structuring of the video game industry, and they risk taking for granted that audiences are shaped by the media already.
Then, the authors come up with the model of the circuit of capital, then the sub circuits of technology, marketing, and culture. The circuit of capital models the production of commodities and that brings in money through purchases to start the cycle again. The three sub circuits in respect to video games are cultural (designers, gamers, players), marketing (marketers, commodities, consumers), and technology (programmers, consoles and computers, and users). Then they add the "interactivity" aspect of games that include the degrees of openness or closure, option, and limitation.
As a reader, this article was very hard for me to grasp where the authors were going and with the diagrams it just made it more confusing. I agree with the authors angles of media analysis and their connections to video games, I was just confused with where they were going with it.


Jon72585 said...

I too found that a lot of this article was confusing, especially when it came to the graphs. After leaving class, I found myself thinking of more examples of media convergence. I know that we discussed things like iphones and other hardware that was previously separate from the internet. When I got home I did some poking around on the internet, just after doing a general google search for "media convergence."

What I mainly found were articles on the way that Television program has been moving to the internet, much in the same way that music has in the past. This lead me to wonder how we plan to regulate television programing online, or how anything can really be regulated online. From the days of Napster and beyond, the powers that be seem intent on shutting down sites where a user can download copyrighted media for free. This has never seemed to work. So then I started thinking about the ways that media convergence, particularly internet convergence, has made entertainment more of a public commodity, that is if you have internet access. Than I began to think about the way that internet companies and providers are going to eventually converge with entertainment conglomerates, so that you'll eventually be paying for not only your access to the internet, but also for the media you consume while there.

From here my mind started to spiral into all kinds of fascist-techno-nightmare future scenarios...and I decided to have a glass of water and calm down.

Adrian said...

I felt like Greg's comments of this was a lot more useful than the article itself. Making models of reality in this way has some use, obviously, but I'm reminded of the difference between Comm. Science and Rhetoric - I'm far more interested in qualitative rather than quantitative styles of inquiry. Things like this I guess, just turn me off.

Nick S said...

I agree with what adrian said, the discussion in class with greg about the article was far more interesting and helpful than the article overall.

To add on to what Jon said about regulate tv online, we are seeing it happen in front of our faces. abc, nbc, fox, and others are putting full episodes of of their shows free online. But of course you have to watch 30 sec. commercials every couples minutes.

Marlon Heimerl said...

Media convergence is no stranger to the world of today, just a mere 120 or so years after the dawn of this technological frontier.

There is no doubt that today one can expect to hold that which was once only functional the size of an entire room within the palm of their hand, or even, as a microscopic chip repairing damages within the body. Who knows? Much has already happened down this same meandering river of adoption and convergence.

Though I too found this article to be rather arduous and more quantitative than may have been necessary, its assessment of convergence was fair. Indeed, the projector had to converge with the kinetoscope to create motion pictures the same as the cell phone will learn to search the internet. It's amazing sometimes how Darwinian logic can sometimes apply to the most insignificant and inanimate objects imaginable. Convergence, is, after all, a requisite of survival for inanimate objects the same as adaptation is a requisite of the survival of the animate.

Sarah. R. said...

This article did present challenges, I agree, but it also presented an interesting and polemical viewpoint - and that is to say that the authors were clearly trying to stake out some theoretical ground with their points. A lot of times, that makes taking on/taking down established scholars and better-known scholarship. Were they ultimately successful? I'm not knowledgeable (by a longshot) enough to even evaluate the various interpretations and disputations at play.

I do know that I was quite fond of the way they described interactions people might have with games (or any narrative/text, really, but I like the specifics of assigning this to the game world), especially were they described so-called "negotiated" readings, and where they put into question whether or not ironic cynicism about popular culture is really any kind of significant critique at all (it is not, they posit, and I tend to agree).

So, I guess I liked this article, even though it was tough and a good bit of it was hard to grasp at first pass, but I've liked everything so far from this trio.

Jasun said...

I agree that the graphs did little to help this article, and that the in class conversation provided alot of guidance in analyzing the arguments. But I must say, the idea of media convergence seems to me a stange contradiction at times. Even as the outlets become more intertwined, the target audiences become less so. Add this to the recent upswing in user-created content and "alternatively" delivered music and video titles and you are left with serious questions about the power of the consolidated media.

Anonymous said...

I part of the article I found most interesting was the part about video games and commercialism, but trying to make sense of the 3 circles and how they all fit together-especially the one at the end-was rough. At face value it does make sense how marketing, techonlogy, and culture all come together in the world of video games; however, the article seems to be trying to make the Grand Unification Theory of video games, which seems pretentious. It was interesting to see his take on how these three categories converge, but the article felt like it was trying to do so much.