Month: May 2016

Ethical & legal constraints in the Media Sector

Introduction

If you work in the creative media industry, it is your responsibility to be aware of the various legal/ethical constraints surrounding your practice. If not, you face either angering a lot of people or getting yourself in trouble with the law, or possibly both.

Legal constraints are laws that govern the media sector and it’s of the up-most importance that you abide by these polices or you could be investigated by law enforcement.

Ethical Constraints aren’t things directly punishable by law, but can hold similarly dire consequences if not taken into strict consideration. These constraints dictate that you are working and/or producing work within accepted norms of your respective society, and you have to represent what is considered the ‘right’ thing to do, i.e. not offending anyone.

The upholders of these certain legal constraints are PEGI and ESRB.

PEGI (Pan European Game Information) and ESRB  (Entertainment Software Rating Board) are the two main players in the legal/ethical constraints in the interactive media sector. They are there to ensure that games available on the market are rated correctly to protect minors from being desensitized or wrongly influenced by any of the content with the game, and to ensure that content will not offend, discriminate or insult any group of people.

Codes of practice 

The VSC (Video Standards Council) govern the codes of practice regarding the video game industry. They are a non-profit organisation designed to ensure that a particular industry shows a certain amount of care in their dealings with customers and the public generally. The VSC also provides retailer staff with a staff training course dealing with age restrictions related to media titles. The VSC also acts as an administrator of the PEGI system of age rating for video games.

Copyright

Copyright is a law designed to protect your idea or product from being duplicated by another company. Copyright laws protect how an idea is presented (in the form of a film or game), but not the idea itself. An example of this being the plethora of modern shooter games currently on the market; they are all similar in ideas and concepts, and have no legal quarrels with one-another. However, if one of these shooters were to present itself in a similar fashion to another (i.e., the designs, music etc.) then there would be grounds for copyright infringement and other legal action.

Patents

A patent does what copyright does not, and protects the idea of something rather than to protect how it’s presented. A patent is more commonly used alongside inventions and other similar products, but is just as important in the creative media industry.

Constraints relative to my own work 

So far, my work within the college has been extremely safe regarding legal and ethical constraints. My two main projects, Upgrade and JAWS are mostly devoid of human characters.

Upgrade features robotic characters only, thus removing any kind of ethical or racial discrimination against people. Upgrade is also an entirely original concept, so that removes any copyright issues that might arise if I choose to publish the game. The game does involve tearing robots apart, which might be considered “violent” in some cases, but the lack of blood or gore means its still suitable for a wider range of audiences.

JAWS, does feature one human character, but she is completely anonymous, allowing the player to more easily project themselves onto the character. Similarly to Upgrade, the lack of human characters removes any sort of ethical issues. The only issue I foresee with JAWS is copyright, due to it being named (and loosely based) after the famous film.

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Understanding Web Coding Protocols

Construction

The underlying code of a website is almost always HTML, CSS and Java. These languages known as “front-end” languages, and control the aesthetic and lauout of the website.

These technologies are always being updated and improved, and have seen dramatic overhauls that now boast some amazing features, allowing you to do things that previously would have been impossible without using a complicated “back-end” technologies like PHP, Perl or ROR. This update

HTML and XHTML

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the language of the internet browser, and is used to describe web documents in a language the browser can interoperate into a website. HTML refers to the code that structures all the elements in a web page. It doesn’t style the page, pr add any sort of interactivity, so websites use HTML in conjunciton other technoligies like CSS and Javascript.

Hypertext is how you move around a website. By clicking on hyperlinks, websites can direct you different parts/pages of the site, and even different websites entirely. Hyper means that it non-linear and can take you to almost anywhere on the internet with the correct address.

Markup is what is contained within HTML tags, and what they do inside them. They can mark certain text to be bold, or italic for example. Tags are keywords that appear in pairs used by HTML to identify certain attributes, and are surrounded by <angle brackets>

HTML mostly consists of short lines of code created by a web author, saves as a .html file and then viewed through a browser. The browser then reads the file and translates it into a visible form, rendering the page as dictated by the HTML. HTML can be typed manually, or generated using graphical editors.

XHTML  (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language) mirrors and extends HTML’s capabilities. XHTML was developed by W3C

W3C

The W3C was created in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee, the original designer of the World Wide Web. The organization’s key purpose is to develop and maintain international standards for web design, so that the web evolves in a single direction rather than being splintered among competing factions.W3C standards ensure that common protocols/practices are used that promote usability and cross-compaitbility.

Tags and Attributes

The first tag in a pair is the “start tag”, <tag> the second tag is the “end tag” </tag>

<strong>content</strong>

The “strong” tag within the brackets is the keyword used to create bold text. As a result, when displayed in a browser “content” will appear as content.

Images in HTML are defined with the <img> tag.

<img src=”w3schools.jpg” alt=”W3Schools.com” width=”104″ height=”142″>

The source file “src”, alternative text “alt”, and size “width and height” are provided as attributes. Attributes provide additional information about an element, and are always specified in the start tag.

“!Doctype html” defines the document as an HTML document, as is present at the top of the html document. For example:

A Div Element <div> is nothing a way to contain other page elements and divides the HTML document into sections. For example, a web author can contain a paragraph within a <div> element, and then take advantage of CSS styles and apply a font to all paragraphs at once by applying a font style to the <div> tag instead of coding the same style for each paragraph.

Metadata 

Metadata finds basic information about other data, which is useful for locating specific files/data. An example would be data attached to file, such as authordate created and and file size are examples of very basic file metadata.  Having the abilty to filter through that metadata makes it much easier for someone to locate a specific document.

Metadata for web pages contain  certain keywords linked to the content. These are usually expressed in the form of metatags. The metadata containing the web page’s description and summary is often displayed in search results by search engines, as to aid people in finding the site that best fits their search criteria.

Declarations

<!Doctype html>
<html>
<head>
<title>Page Title</title>
</head>
<body>

<h1>My First Heading</h1>
<p>My first paragraph.</p>

</body>
</html>

The <html> tags are present at the top and the bottom of the document, and describes the document as HTML.

CSS

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)  gives more control over the appearance of a Web page to the page creator than to the browser designer or the viewer. It’s a style language that defines layout of HTML documents. For example, CSS covers fonts, colours, margins, lines, height, width, background images, and advanced positions of data. This, in conjunction with Java or Flash, can add more interactive and animated elements to a website.

body {
background-color: #d0e4fe;
}

h1 {
color: orange;
text-align: center;
}

p {
font-family: “Times New Roman”;
font-size: 20px;
}

Colors are within CSS are represented/created by combining RED, GREEN, and BLUE colours (or RGB) They can be specified by a colour name (such as simply “orange” for an unspecific colour), an RGB value “(255,0,0)”, or a HEX value “#ff0000” for a more specific shade/hue.

Text within CSS belong to 2 familes, a “Genernic Family” and a “Font Family”

  • The “Generic Family” is a group of font families with a similar look, like “Serif” or “Sans”
  • The “Font Family” is a group of font families with a similar look, like “New Times Roman” or “Arial”

HTML Tables 

The HTML tables allow web authors to arrange data into rows and columns of cells. The HTML tables are created using the <table> tag.

 

Company Ownership – BUNGIE

Bungie-logo

Introduction/History

Bungie are a private game development studio based in Washington, United States. It was founded in 1991 by university students Alex Serbian and Jason Jones. The studio became what one employee termed “your stereotypical vision of a small computer-game company—eating a lot of pizza, drinking a lot of Coke” This was not to remain the case however, as in 2000 Bungie was acquired by Microsoft Studios. When Microsoft acquired Bungie, the project they were working on was re-purposed into a launch title for Microsoft’s new console, the Xbox. The game was called Halo: Combat Evolved and became the Xbox’s biggest seller, selling millions of copies and spawning a billion dollar franchise.

2004ghof1
Halo: Combat Evolved (2000)

Throughout it’s lifetime, Bungie has gone through some major organisational changes. The first being in June 19, 2000, after Halos preview at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2000. Microsoft announced that it had acquired Bungie Software and that Bungie would become a part of the “Microsoft Game Division” under the name Bungie Studios. Halo would be developed as an exclusive title for the Xbox. The reasons for Bungie accepting Microsoft’s offer were varied. Jason Jones stated that “I don’t remember the details exactly, it was all a blur. We’d been talking to people for years and years.

Competition 

Since the Advent of their first person shooter (FPS) game Halo, Bungie have been in constant competition with other similar developers who also produce FPS games. Studios like Infinity Ward, DICE, and Activison.

Audience/Cross-Media Productions

Bungie’s audience are gamers, specifically Xbox/Xbox 360 gamers who enjoy first-person shooters. This might seem like a niche market, but together Bungie’s Halo franchise has sold over 65 million copies to players across the globe. Bungie’s influence spans far beyond the games however, as the Halo universe has been expanded into books, comics and short films. In reality, Bungie’s (indirect) total audience count may be significantly high number.

halo-books-and-novels-banner
A small collection of the Halo novels

As Bungie produce video games, a side-product of that is often original soundtracks. Halo’s soundtrack in particular has received critical acclaim, and contains tracks featuring many famous artists such Steve Vai, Breaking Benjamin, Incubus and Hoobastank. As a result, Bungie (or more accurately the soundtrack composer, Martin O’Donnell) publish and release the score albums alongside their games.

2723055-halomusic3
The production the Halo 2 Soundtrack at Skywalker Sound

Bungie have created a wide variety of cross-media products, including (but not limited to) books, comics, music soundtracks and film. Though Bungie has not been directly responsible for producing any of these works, they are always involved as creative directors and consultants for the projects.

halo-legends-babysitter-poster
Halo Legends, an animation produced in Japan using Bungie’s intellectual property.

Company structure/Ownership

Martin O’Donnell described Bungie’s workplace as having “a slightly irreverent attitude, and not corporate, bureaucratic or business-focused“. An artist at Bungie noted that when he walked in for an interview, “I realized that I was the one who was over-dressed, and I knew this was the place I wanted to work.” Frank O’Connor comically noted that at a conference, the Bungie team was told to wear business casual, to which O’Connor replied “Bungie don’t do business casual.”

This informal, creative culture was one of the reasons Microsoft was interested in acquiring Bungie, although game designer Jordan Weisman said that Microsoft came close to destroying the company’s unique development culture, studio head Harold Ryan emphasized that even when Bungie was bought by Microsoft, the team was still independent.

The next radical shift in Bungie’s organisation came on October 1, 2007. Microsoft and Bungie announced that Bungie was splitting off from its parent and becoming a privately held limited liability company named Bungie, LLC. As outlined in a deal between the two, Microsoft would retain a minority stake and continue to partner with Bungie on publishing and marketing both Halo and future projects, with the Halo intellectual property belonging to Microsoft.

While Bungie was part of Microsoft, they were required to produce games according to Microsoft’s schedule. This schedule resulted in a game being produced at most every 4 years. While this schedule wasn’t particularly demanding or unreasonable for Bungie, the studio had always enjoyed producing different and varied works, and traditionally never stuck with a title for long. Microsoft however demanded that Bungie kept working with the Halo franchise, and as a result Bungie produced 5 games belonging to Halo. After the 5th Halo game Halo: Reach, Bungie subsequently split from Microsoft entirely in an effort to pursue new original ideas. This lead to Bungie horizontally integrating with Activison, and producing Destiny. 

guardians_2_destiny-media
Destiny (2014) bears many similarities to Halo.

Eventually in 2009, 343 industries (a company established by Microsoft) was created in order to oversee and continue the development of the Halo franchise.

343_Industries_logo.svg

 

Glossary

  • Horizontal Integration – The Process of a company merging/cooperating with another company of similar size and/or industry
  • limited liability company – A limited liability company is a structure whereby the members of the company cannot be held personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities.
  • Intellectual property – Refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs etc used in commerce.

 

Website Wireframe

A basic layout for an ideal website I created in Balsamic.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 12.30.02

I have designed the website to be very easy to navigate, with the homepage only presenting 3 main buttons to each of the pages. The white boxes are featured images representing each page, with a large image banner at the top with a logo. The homepage also contains quick and easy links to any relevant social media sites.

The website was designed with large images and easy navigation in mind, 2 qualities that Gail expressed she wanted for her site.

Web Authoring: Day 2

(09/05/2016)

Day 2 saw us travelling to Cockington to meet our clients. After getting a very lengthy introduction from one of the managers there, we were given a rather expensive camera and tasked to create media assets for the website. While Sunny went off to get pizza, Myself, Yasmin and Damian took a small tour around the Cocking grounds, taking pictures of the scenery, shops and studios that we can use on the site. We figured that part of the appeal of coming to these small studios is Cockington itself, and we wanted to get that across on the eventual website.

Outside 0008 (Yasmin Bradford)

Outside 0011 (Yasmin Bradford)

Outside 0003 (Yasmin Bradford)

Shortly after, Me and Yasmin visited the client with notepads in hand, aiming to obtain as much useful information as possible to make the website creation process easier. We subsequently met Gail, a ceramicist who owns a small studio there.

We introduced ourselves and Gail explained some key points that she wanted from the Website-

Notes taken by Yasmin

screen-shot-2016-05-11-at-10-31-36

 

The page should include:

  • Home Page
  • About
  • Gallery
  • Contact Page

Colour Palette/Style should be soft Blues, Greens and Whites.

The theme should be minimalistic, fresh and easy to navigate.

Requested Features:

  • Art Ceramics is what she wants her domain to be; and the tagline of her name Gail Trezise
  • She wants her products and her to be identified as individual and bespoke, and that most of them are one-offs. Included in the about page should be information about commissions
  • Should include photos of the products/ workspace/ artist
  • Attach social media links, Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram
  • Logo would be good. Imagery would be ideal if it were a boat and/or nautically themed
  • Something extra would be an animated banner of a boat bobbing up and down

Shortly afterwards, Sunny and Damian took pictures of the studio and artist, whilst Myself and Yasmin managed what pieces of work Gail wanted photographed, and set them up in a small portable photo booth.

Pictures taken by myself and Yasmin

Products 0008 (Yasmin Bradley)

Products 0001 (Yasmin Bradley)

Myself and Yasmin got designing a logo for Gail. We presented 4 different designs and she liked them all, and asked if we could incorporate features of both our designs into one.

Concepts by Yasmin Bradford

screen-shot-2016-05-11-at-10-32-34

Concept Sketches from myself

screen-shot-2016-05-11-at-10-33-23

The combined logo, designed by both me and Yasmin.

screen-shot-2016-05-11-at-10-32-23

Overall, we got at least 100 pictures of scenery, studio, and item stock, and got valuable information regarding the website.