1. How does your product use or challenge conventions and how does it represent social groups or issues?
My magazine is included in the vast category of video game magazines but it has its particular features. It uses conventions when it comes to layout: the masthead, the website, background image, cover lines, barcode, date, issues number, puff and plugs. On the other hand, the design of the magazine is way more minimalistic/ futuristic than the mainstream version of a gaming magazine, like Xbox360 or PcGamer. I also broke the conventions when it comes to content: the majority of video game magazines are focused on one main topic like game development, character design, review, cosplay and so on. “For the win” covers a wide range of topics - this is my unique selling point- which include illustrations, character design, reviews, new tech, debates, q&a, fan art, e-sports and cosplay. I have a bit of everything. People may like a certain topic, for example cosplay, but they wouldn’t buy a magazine fully based on this unless they are truly passionate about it. I didn’t focus on only one topic because there are popular magazines which do that and it would have been harder to enter that market segment. I chose to be multifunctional and to cover the relevant subjects from each field, in order to attract my audience. “For the win”, like other magazines from this section, is targeting teenagers who are seeking for mainstream. Boys play more video games than girls so I decided to target my magazine towards them. My target audience questionnaire showed me that the age group is between 16-20 years old - gamers who play video games mostly with friends and unknown people from around the world. When it comes to representation, I wanted to touch a sensitive part involving gender equality in video games industry. In order to do this, I had an interview with a famous female character designer, I chose a female on the cover of the magazine and I also included "strong female characters" as an article. Females can play video games too and they can make money out of it. They are as able as men to create games and characters. Men have to stop seeing women as objects or as hopeless, needy creatures, like they did. In the past, in video games, females were portrayed as helpless and they always died or were in danger - needed to be saved by the main (male) character. Nowadays, more and more video games have strong independent women as main characters, for example Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), Elizabeth (BioShock Infinite), Lightning (Final Fantasy), Nariko (Heavenly Sword) and many more. These are females who don’t need to be protected or rescued. They can do everything on their own. They use their intelligence and sensuality to charm and to seduce instead of torturing - this intrigues men. I tried to encourage the idea that people aren't defined by their bodies in video games. Because at the end of the day, people aren't the flesh suits they wear, regardless of which dimples, curves, and protrusions they might have. They're people - a complex amalgam of wants, needs, and dreams. Both genders are amazing and some may use games to try on other gender identities. Anyone can be anything, and games can help.
2. How does your product engage with audiences and how would it be distributed as a real media text?
The audience is kept up to date with their favourite games in terms of character design, game development, reviews and debates. Furthermore, the audience has a special spot in the magazine, called “fanzone”, which creates a special bond between the customer and the magazine. The fans get more attached to my magazine when they see their artworks or cosplays made my them in “fanzone”. By posting the target audience questionnaire on Facebook and Reddit, I obtained the following information: my target audience are 75% boys between 16-20 who play games more than 9 hours per week and only 31% of them would buy the printed version of the magazine. They prefer League of Legends and other MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games. Living a sedentary life and lacking social skills, they are absorbed by the online world where they can be appreciated as whatever they desire to be. I will attract my audience with my unique magazine, which covers so many fields from he video game industry and with promotions and freebies with their favourite games: small objects or vouchers for buying skins, champions or different items in the online world. I would promote my magazine through Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat - having these 3 logos on the right side corner of the cover. I will also promote the magazine through other games ex. League of Legends’ log in page, famous youtubers ex. Pewdiepie’s videos, or through famous girls who do cosplay ex. Jessica Nigri’s Facebook page. I will also sponsor different championships, giving prizes in the name of the magazine. I will hold conferences, creating a readers community ex. forum and I will have an app specially created for “For The Win magazine” in which every reader can personalise his/her profile- for example he/she can choose what to see first, his/her interests and hobbies from a large variety of topics my magazine contains. I would distribute my magazine mainly online because I want to protect the environment, but I will also try to find a middle-way for hikikomori and for the authentic gamers who read magazines and who want to feel their pages and maybe to add it up to their collection. Hikikomori - acute social withdrawal - is the Japanese term describing teens or adult who seek an extreme degree of isolation from society. They spend their days in their bedrooms, playing video games, living from their parent’s income. Their degree of laziness may rise above the reading-a-magazine level and they might want the read-out-loud version of the magazine, which will be online. By distributing it online, I will post it on myfavouritemagazines.co.uk , a very popular magazine subscription store which also ships to over 100 countries worldwide. I can add external links to it, to different interviews or videos, to attract the audience to the articles they are interested in - they don’t have to read them, they can only listen while playing games (supposing the “”lazy-gamers stereotype is accurate”). The subscribers will also receive bonuses and news via email if they want to. By printing it, I would try to use a different type of paper or maybe I will print it in a slightly different format in order to reduce the amount of paper printed but not to change it’s shape too much. I was thinking of green printing using Eco Friendly Recycled Paper in order to help sustain our local and global environment. The printed version will be distributed in video games stores and big libraries around the Europe first, and then, I may extend the distribution worldwide. The online subscription will cost 10 lei/month (around 2,23€/month) and the printed version will cost 23 lei/month (around 5,15€/month).
3. How did your production skills develop throughout this project?
Through this experience, I gained knowledge about Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. I never used them before because I didn’t need to. By choosing Media Studies as one of my four AS level subjects, I decided to learn more about media in general but also about the making-of process: how a product is created from an idea to the final product which is sold to customers. I envisage that the production process involves a lot of work and every detail matters. I learn how to edit images in photoshop, to play with many tools, to smudge, blur, burn and to edit different layers. Vectorising images in Illustrator was one of my greatest accomplishments because I learned to create anchor points and to shape the logos as I desired. I could modify and adjust details in order to personalise some standard labels, for example the “subscribe now” logo. I spent most of my time in InDesign because it was the hardest part. Not because I didn’t know how to use it, I learned how, but because there is always something to improve. I tried many different arrangements until I got to the final version of the magazine, the one of which I am proud of. I also learned that I always have to start with an idea in mind and to try various different arrangements because I cannot obtain something delightful without seeing the whole picture, from different perspectives. From the preliminary design tasks to the final version I changed my perspective because I tried many different things and because I did a lot of research during the process. My initial ideas were the same from the beginning to the end but the way I presented the information have changed a lot as a result of an in-depth research in video games industry and gaming magazines. When it comes to time management, I planned my time in such way to finish the magazine fast enough in oder to have time to triple-check it at the end. As I mentioned before, I spent most of the time in InDesign and I wasn’t expecting to spend so much time retouching and rearranging the elements in page. I finished the magazine later but I was still in time. I also realised the importance of a professional camera and the good aspect of images. High quality images are a must, being an added value to a magazine. They are easily edited and digitally retouched, giving the magazine a professional look. For the first photo shooting session, I used myself as a model and I could schedule it according to my schedule. I struggled a bit with the tripod but overall I managed to get exactly what I wanted. For the second one, I had 5 of my colleagues as models. It was pretty hard to schedule a date in which everyone was available and I had some issues with their punctuality. I had to reschedule the photo shooting session for the next week. I didn’t payed them so they weren’t motivated to be on time but somehow we managed to take the photo. It didn’t take long for them to get the we-won-the-championship attitude and I am proud because they really tried and we did a great job together. Another important factor was the target audience questionnaire - it gave me a clear idea of what gamers are looking for in a gaming magazine and it helped me knowing better my audience. The results from the questionnaire basically shaped the magazine’s content. At the end I presented my magazine to my media studies colleagues because I was involved in the process for too long and I couldn’t see the “whole picture” from a detached perspective. I realised the importance of feedback from peers.
4. How did you integrate technologies – software, hardware and online – in this project?
I presented the data on my blog, using Weebly as a platform. I used google for my research and issuu for publishing my magazine and for collecting information about other gaming magazines like Control500 and EyeForGames. I also used google for searching fonts, wikipedia and nowgamer.com for information about the latest games and google images for League of Legends cup, social media logos and inspiration. In order to find my target audience, I used google forms to establish a standardised questionnaire and afterwards, with Piktochart, I presented the results collected after the questionnaire was posted on Facebook and Reddit. For the “White ninja”’s photo I used a green screen from my school and the Nikon d5100, also from my school. “Princess Leia” cosplay was made using my Canon 700d, a tripod and a cream wall from my house as hardware and for building the character I used the 3D software Daz Studio 4.8. I edited the photos on my Macbook air, using Photoshop CC as a main software. For the subscription sign and for vectorising images I used Illustrator CC and for constructing the magazine I used InDesign with all its fonts and some extra ones downloaded from 1001fonts.com.