Audience theory

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Transcript of Audience theory

  • 1.Audience Theories

2. The Hypodermic Needle Model

  • 1920s attempt to explain how mass audiences might react to mass media
  • Audiences passively receive the information
  • Audiences do not process or challenge the data
  • so the information isunmediated.

The Hypodermic Needle Model 3. The Hypodermic Needle Model

  • As an audience, we are manipulated by the creators of media texts, and our behaviour can be easily changed by media-makers
  • Audience arepassiveandheterogenous
  • This model is quoted duringmoral panics

4. Two- Step Flow

  • More sophisticated as mass media became more essential
  • Information is filtered through "opinion leaders"
  • Audience then mediate the information received directly from the media with the ideas and thoughts expressed by the opinion leaders, thus being influenced not by a direct process, but by a two step flow
  • The media is not God - social factors are also
  • important
  • Also called thelimited effectsparadigm

5. Uses & Gratifications

  • 1960s generation had grown up with TV
  • audiences make choices about what they do
  • when consuming texts
  • audiences made up of individuals who
  • actively consume texts for different
  • reasons and in different ways

6. Uses & Gratifications

  • Blumer and Katz (1974) state a text might be used for the following purposes:
  • Diversion- escape from everyday problems and routine.
  • Personal Relationships- using the media for emotional and other interaction, eg) substituting soap operas for family life
  • Personal Identity- finding yourself reflected in texts, learning behaviour and values from texts
  • Surveillance- Information which could be useful for living eg) weather reports, financial news, holiday bargains

7. Reception Theory

  • Individual circumstances (gender, class, age, ethnicity) affect reading
  • The text isencodedby the producer, anddecodedby the reader, and there may be major differences between two different readings of the same code
  • Producers canpositionthe audience and thus create a certain amount of agreement on what the code means. This is known as apreferredreading

8. Moral Panic - Springhall

  • a moral panic occurs when the official or press reaction to a deviant social or cultural phenomenon is out of all proportion to the actual threat offered (1998)
  • Lots of studies have tried to identify acausal link between violent content in video games and subsequent violent behaviour in gameplayers.
  • Sceptics suggest that the approaches used were flawed and biased.


  • Can you think of any specific examples for games you have played of violent content?
  • What is the most violent content you have experienced in a game?

10. Pro- Effects TheoryAnderson and Dill

  • study into violent videogames
  • found that real-life violent video game play was related to aggressive behaviour and delinquency
  • laboratory exposure to a graphically violent videogame increased aggressive thoughts and behaviour
  • They also claimed that the unique dangers of violent videogames included:
  • - the interactive nature of games
  • - the active participation involved in videogames
  • - the addictive nature of videogames

11. Anderson and Dill

  • Videogames have a strong effect on aggression, especially in children because:
  • games are highly engaging
  • games reward violent behaviour
  • games require the same actions to be repeated

12. Sceptics of Effects Theory

  • studies like these are flawed and biased
  • these studies are merely based on correlation methods rather than those that prove causality (Goldstein, 2000)
  • Mackay also questions the validity of past research studies and calls for more complete studies of the issue including approaches that reach beyond the limits posed by laboratory experiments (2002).

13. Sceptics of Effects Theory

  • Vessey furthers this viewpoint by stating the exact contribution that videogames play in shaping children's behaviour is virtually impossible to isolate when considered from broader intra-personal and environmental contexts (2000).


  • Can we suggest any effective research methods for establishing the effects of video games on their players?

15. Effects Theory and Moral Panic

  • Overall, media effects theory has a long tradition within the cultural studies school of thought.
  • Springhall suggests that people are fearful of new technologies, such as videogames, because they challenge existing power and governmental processes. This is especially because they are embraced by the young who are a significant audience for violent and sexual images (1998: 2). This viewpoint may explain the eagerness of certain groups to understand the effects of videogames, especially if they are seen as sources of cultural subversion. Hence, effects theory has played a role in many moral panics over specific video games, censorship regimes and policy decisions.

16. Manhunt

  • Manhunt by Rockstar Games, was released at the end of 2003 and has become one of 2004 biggest selling titles. It has been described as one of the most visceral and intense videogames ever made. The objective of the game is to escape from a prison and in doing so to kill as many people as possible for the omnipresent narrators snuff film. Outrage about the games content as well as its extremely realistic images surrounded its release. In July 2004, a boy was killed in Britain by another boy who was said to be obsessed by the game, prompting further outrage and controversy. The media effects debate was also stirred up again by this event.

17. Manhunt

  • Generally speaking, when someone comes to me and blames the problems of our nations youth on video games, I tell them they are misinformed. When they bring up Grand Theft Auto and refer to it as a murder simulator, I casually explain that the game implements one of the best scripts this side of Hollywood, taking cues from such ground-breaking movies as Scarface to Menace II Society. The games are voiced by such noted actors as Ray Loitta and Samuel L. Jackson. The average gamer these days is well into their late twenties even by the worst estimates and these games are distributed explicitly for an adult audiences. Most retailers, especially retailers primarily devoted to video games, know better than to sell to children: it can cause them both financial and political problems. As such, these games are not murder simulators, but well written stories intended for adults. The fact that they include death is roughly as meaningful as mentioning that Casino includes murder, and more f-bombs than I used after falling off a three-story building.

Manhunt 18. Manhunt

  • Then comes a game like Manhunt, and suddenly defending it becomes a bit harder. Created by the same company as Grand Theft Auto, the concept behind the game is to get into the mind of someone who commits horrendous, unspeakable acts. This is not mindless killing for the sake of killing, unlike the abysmal flop State of Emergency which literally was nothing more than gunning down people in a mall. I should probably mention that Rockstar also produced State of Emergency. But, whereas State of Emergency was rather cartoony in nature and felt about as real as punching a blow-up clown, Manhunt is quite the grisly game. As the title of Manhunt might suggest, you play as a hunted man. The only way to escape your would-be killers is to kill them first. The producers like to refer to it as a work of art, to show the fall of a man trapped in a situation beyond his means and what he will do to survive. While the original Manhunt was acknowledged as not only being believable but almost sympathetic in its portrayal of its anti-hero, Mahunt 2 goes more for the blurring of reality through the eyes of a madman. This only furthers the murder simulator reference, as if it were desensitizing most people. One reviewer, as seen in the video below, makes note of the fact that this sort of mindless violence is more the area of teenagers who find this sort of gory social commentary interesting, whereas most rational adults would likely look at something like this and recoil. (Note, some foul language in this review, may not be safe for work)