This semester in Game Media Industries I explored an all time favourite game of mine, Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF). Through the critical analysis of my analytical framework, which looked at media archaeology, cultural capital, and paratexts, I was able to produce a series of works for my digital artefact.
My DA consists of my own Redbubble store which features a collection of 3 of my digital illustrations of some of the game’s main characters in the form of pillow cases, pins, masks, stickers and more.
To display my works across multiple platforms, I have also posted 3 reels and 1 post to my instagram page. Here I showcase the creative process behind designing these illustrations throughout time lapsed screen recordings accompanied by associated fandom music, as well as promote my final designs available in my store.
After deciding to explore Five Nights at Freddy’s for the BCM215 DA challenge, I had a few ideas on what I could do for my digital artefact. Some of these included physically making toy plushies and producing merch in the form of shirts and hoodies based on my designs of the game’s characters. However this alone would not fulfil the requirements of the digital part of the artefact so I had planned to document the process of producing these ideas on my instagram page.
When it came down to it I figured that I didn’t have the time and skill to sew or the money for materials and sought a more FIST (fast, inexpensive, simple, tiny) approach. This is when I had to iterate my DA idea based on feedback. Redbubble was a site suggested to me to ensure my DA would contain the digital aspect and in response to this feedback this is the platform I went with. As mentioned in my pitch, I wanted my DA to provide a service in producing content to contribute to the fandom. I believe the digital artefact I have created, via the digital platforms i have chosen has allowed for my project to be most accessible and engaging for the targeted audience.
Through the use of hashtags on my reels, I have been able to largely connect my works with fellow FNAF fans on instagram. Studies show that using at least one hashtag gets 12.6% more engagement than a post without a hashtag. Both the explicit and implicit feedback displayed to me the usefulness of utilising this tool for exposure, engagement and visitors to my site.
The feedback from my most recent reel particularly shows the response from the wider public. Through my analytics it can be seen that my last reel, illustrating the character bonnie, blew up compared to the others, attracting over 3.5k views. This also helped with exposure of my instagram account. Before posting any Five Nights at Freddy’s content I had attracted around 1.6k accounts, whereas now my account has almost 5k in reach. Although the explicit feedback has not been nearly as much as the implicit, this post remains the highest liked and interacted with content on my page. A lot of the accounts that did engage with this post were either fan accounts of the FNAF games or other gaming accounts, again displaying to me the response and involvement from the community.
My methodology that I pitched in week 4 had remained the same however I had not realised that the framework shapes the DA and how interconnected the report and project are. Therefore my schedule of events has been altered. In my schedule I planned to have the report complete before starting on my DA, which upon reflection would be extremely hard, highlighting my confusion of the task. I have had to make iterations based on deadlines and further iterations to my DA’s initial structure and idea based on the rate that the project was due. Although I did not end up producing physical works in weeks 11-13, like I pitched, I did stick to my structure of using weeks 9-10 to produce my own designs.
The FIST strategy was developed by Lt. Col. Dan Ward, 2006 which looks at a framework of potential for projects. Based on generating simplicity the FIST framework comprises of; time-bound (fast), using accessible, existing techniques (inexpensive), aims away from fragility (simple), and small-scale (tiny). This was a factor, as mentioned before, which greatly shaped the direction of my DA, allowing me to sort through which ideas were realistic and which weren’t over the final few weeks.
In producing my DA I stuck to my analytical model, discussed in both my pitch and previous blog posts, to help me construct content. Here I explored 3 concepts; media archaeology, cultural capital, and paratext which allowed me to engage in analysis of my game text, Five Nights at Freddy’s.
Media Archeology is defined as interested in excavating the past in order to understand the present and the future, according to the theorist Jussi Parikka. It looks at any cultural situation from its background material in order to help discover how things came to be what they are. Within my digital artefact, researching into FNAF’s media archaeology helped my understanding of design aspects that shape the game. Turns out there was a past major project that came to shape the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. Scott Cawthon had released a family-friendly game just the year before FNAF was released called Chipper & Sons Lumber Co but received major backlash in critique. Here viewers commented on the ghastly looks of the characters, comparing them to creepy animatronics. From this it was important that I maintained this scary look throughout my works accompanying them with eerie music, providing the same feeling the game would. Another thing I had to consider was the history and order of the games to understand where the games are today as I haven’t played them in years. The character designs and alterations over the past 8 years influenced the way in which I produced my own FNAF works.
Pierre Bourdieu coined the term cultural capital stating it to be a familiarity with the legitimate culture within a society. It looks at the involvement and attitudes we put into our specific social groups which can range from a coffee group to an online fandom. Personally I have shown cultural capital throughout the production of my DA. I did this by showcasing the processes, time and efforts I have taken to develop a positive attitude to the games through my own paratext. However, I have also considered the cultural capital of the games both positive and negative. First I looked at Cawthon’s biggest and earliest critique of the games, Jim Stephanie Sterling (The Jimquisition) As discussed before Sterling was the original commenter to critique Cawthon for the appearance of his characters. Since then he has produced a large contribution of his negative attitudes towards Scott Cawthon and his games on Youtube contributing to the cultural capital of the game. After this I looked at the fandom and the types of works they were producing as paratext, on both pinterest and redbubble, which mostly consisted of more animated looking, cute illustrations and considered this style in the production of my works as well.
Paratexts look at the practices, discourses and texts that extend from an original text to enhance the audience’s understanding. They are basically texts about texts and exist around every text. For my DA I have created paratexts contributing to the game and its fandom by producing my digital illustrations. This has allowed fans to interact, engage, purchase and further understand Five Nights at Freddy’s as a game media. Within my works I have also included other paratexts that fans have created which are popular within the FNAF fandom. The ontological framework looks at the concept of construction through something called machinima. It is a technique where animated films are produced through the usage and manipulation of video game graphics, aka machine cinema. Popular forms of these paratexts within the FNAF franchise take form in music video clips featuring newly created songs by users. And within my project, I used a few of these songs to accompany my reels. Some of the most popular songs have blown up on tiktok where users will now produce their own paratexts such as FNAF cosplays, animations and illustrations to it.