Zeitgeist

Definition: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.

My initial thoughts when being told about this project was that the most clear example of how this period of time is drastically different from the last is in internet culture and how it has affected how we perceive world events. My initial thought was towards the use of memes to trivialise news events such as what happened to the gorilla Harambe who quickly became a meme himself, even though there was nothing intrinsically funny about the event the meme has made it funny. Another meme that has made headlines lately is the Pepe meme of a sad looking frog. This was in the news as Donald Trump had used the meme in a twitter post followed by the democrats claiming that he was a white supremesist as they had also been using the meme a lot lately.

Another initial thought I had about Zeitgeist was about the current US election an how it has become such a global event. Between the idiocy of trump and the mistrust of Hilary the faith in the next presidency is at an all time low. To make it even more entertaining to us foreigners the majority of the campaign isn’t fought over policies but over social media, where they takes shots at each other for the whole world to see. Between all of Trump’s crazy claims and Hilary’s untrustworthiness it should be easy to come up with some interesting designs.

I found a site advertising a presentation talking about the Zeitgeist of 2015 (http://www.fluxtrends.com/zeitgeist-2016/) which helped me get lots of useful ideas for how they have developed and progressed 2016. The main points that were mentioned were these:

  • The impact of living in a hyper visual world: emoji as a language and the emergence of the social capital traveller. (1)
  • The evolution of wearable tech: from pet wearables to the unusual marriage of fitness and finance. (2)
  • The tussle between privacy and meta data, and the (now real) concept of being held cyber hostage by your Smartphone. (3)
  • The new (virtual) world of eSports and augmented reality entertainment. (4)
  • On-demand food trends, and the robots that are making it possible. (5)
  • Shifting demographics and social norms, and the new wave of brand ambassadors that reflect these changes. (6)
  • Generation Z: Why Flux Trends believes that this is the real game-changing generation. #trendevolution

1) With the emergence of emojis and the idea that you can have conversations entirely pictorially, i could do some illustrations comparing emoji to pictographs from ancient civilisations such as hieroglyphs.

2) As these points were from 2015 I doubt they had any idea about how much impact pokemon go would have on the world. Even several months after its launch it has over 32 million daily users. encouraging people to go outside and exercise which they likely would not have without it. i could maybe do some interesting designs based on this idea however I don’t know how far I could take it. Additionally I could look into the advances in VR are developing and getting much more realistic.

3) I feel that between Wikileaks, Edward Snowden and hacker groups we know more about whats going on behind the scenes of governments than we ever have before, as such we now know lots of details which some people may have preferred to live in ignorance of. especially with the issue of government surveillance and how we are always being watched and having our phones and internet searches monitored according to the most paranoid in society. I could do some illustrations in an orwellian way, comparing the world to that of a distopian future.

4) Esports is an area that i am very treated and somewhat involved in being a fighting game player. However even though fighting games have been getting bigger and bigger with street fighter v at EVO receiving just under 2 million unique viewers, the biggest Esports by far are those such as the MOBAS such as Dota 2 and League of Legends as well as the FPS games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The highest viewership for league of Legends is 27 million viewers, only a quarter that of the Super Bowl and much more than the finals of many other sporting events such as the Masters. Additionally the prize pool for 2016’s biggest Dota 2 tournament was just below $21,000,000 showing how it has become a lot more than the stereotype of nerds playing games in a basement. Similarly to typical sports there has been recent movements from the organisers of events to cut back on performance enhancing drugs such as Adderol which players were abusing to get an edge over other competitors. Similarly some people have complained about the use of caffein from energy drinks, who are often also the companies who sponsor the events. Additionally many players are starting to be sponsored by well known brands, originally it used to just be tech companies sponsoring players however it has begun to diversify much more within the past few years with big brands such as RedBull sponsoring top Esports players as RedBull athletes. Another trend has been more players being able to get access to athletes visas to travel and play abroad, as in the past many players have had issues travelling to events to compete as it i very likely that they could be making money on their travel. As such the line between sports and Esports is beginning to get closer. An interesting design idea that comes to mind would be to take stereotypical posters and images of athletes and appropriate them for Esports. For instance I could use the same sort of compositions but include controllers and screens for instance. I could even use adverts such as from Nike who use athletes showing off there sports so I could do something on the same lines. However I need to make sure that I don’t show it in a way that looks like I’m making fun of Esports but rather that they should be seen equally as a competitive game that is starting to make a similar amount of money.

I love this image so much. It is of the two professional wrestlers Xavier Woods and Kenny Omega recreating the predator handshake after playing in a street fighting exhibition. They are most passionate about fighting games and have bodies that would compare to regular athletes rather than the common perception of gamers.

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5) I imagine that this point firstly refers to how now most big supermarket chains will deliver food directly to your door, making it much easier for the elderly who might struggle to go to the shops on their own. The second point i believe refers to how drones are starting to be used for transportation by companies such as Amazon and the security concerns some people are fearing over this concept. I feel like I could make some interesting designs from these ideas however I feel that the scope might be somewhat limited.

6) I believe that what this point refers to is how within the past few years the LGBT community has become much more accepted, especially the trans community who i feel have been much more accepted as of late due to more exposure in the media. A sign of this is how much backlash anti-trans companies such as Target got regarding the ‘correct’ bathroom they use. This is similar to all of the anti gay stories from the last few years which, although they still happen, I feel are less frequent. Although there are a number of interesting designs I could do on this subject i feel that as I don’t fully understand the community that I wouldn’t be able to do it justice and would worry about causing insult.

Another aspect of this point which I just realised could be how it relates to the black lives matter movement and how a disproportionately large number of black men were being shot by police. However like with LGBT issues I don’t feel qualified or knowledgeable enough to try and attempt this project.

The idea that I have decided to develop further is my idea about Esports and the comparison to traditional athletics. After doing a little experimentation I feel like doing a comparison to Nike ads could be very good as the format of Nike ads, the black background and swoosh, are very recognisable so my thought is that the association would make people more quickly realise that although they are talented in different ways, they are still at the top of their games like how no random person on the street would be. As such my idea would be to portray Esports in a similar way to how athletes are shown, at work doing what they are best at or just standing with their tools of the trade. For instance in one sketch I did I took an image of a footballer holding his helmet and appropriated it so that the Professional gamer was holding his controller or fight stick.

Another idea that I could show in its own right or in the same way as the Nike ads is the concept of having the Professional gamers ‘controlling’ avatars. For instance my first idea was to have a gamer controlling a boxer, held up by puppet strings. My idea here is that the viewer in seeing this may draw parallels between the sports and realise that instead of focusing on the athletics or musculature of the competitors that they realise a different set of skills are in place that aren’t comparable but are still commendable. For instance instead of fitness they show astounding reactions and decision making, as well as technical execution that require years or decades of practice.

Another idea I just had is that I can show the advantages that Esports can provide by showing people who can compete in this environment with everyone else, whereas in traditional sports they would be in their own categories for the sake of ‘fairness’. By this I mean children, women, trans-women and disabled people. Many of which are icons and accepted in the community for showing that they can compete as well as anyone else. Examples of this are Brolylegs, Ricki Ortiz, Gilty, Chocoblanka and TaeJa, who are disabled, trans-women, a woman and a 15 year old gamer.

Another concept that I could try and show is how multicultural some scenes are whereas others are very white. For instance the FGC, fighting game community, has an extremely diverse mix of race and cultures and everyone gets along happily simply relating with the love of the game. With being in the scene for around three years I haven’t yet seen a single issue of racism or prejudice and made a tonne of new friends. Similarly commentary teams are extremely varied in ethnicity as they come from the community naturally. On the other hand if you look at any other Esports such as FPS games or MOBAS, when you look at both who play the games and who commentates it is almost exclusively white men. and after getting some pushback from the community have started to include black men as interviewers and a token woman on each commentary team. I believe this is due to how the separate scenes developed, as these scenes developed almost entirely online where the best people were friends and hired people who they liked for their team of six, possibly with a racial bias. The FGC on the other hand developed in the arcades as a one vs one game, as such there is more room for friendly competition and the lack of teams encourages everyone talking and having fun together rather than segregating the community. As such I could do some work based of these ideas, however they would be more controversial than my other ideas. It could be fun and interesting to do though, I will definitely do some sketches to see if I come up with any interesting designs.

The first 4 images are of very white Esports teams, the last image is of the crowd at a fighting game tournament, a much more diverse crowd.

After doing a number of sketches exploring my ideas, the images I liked most were those where I was making a comparison between traditional sports and eSports. I especially like using references to boxing in my sketches as I find that it is a middle ground between the real world and fighting games. The ideas I liked most in this way were those depicting gamers controlling these fighters, to show the similarities and the differences between the two sports. Initially I considered depicting the fighters as puppets being held up by strings, instead i preferred showing the players at an arcade cabinet as i fell it looks better compositionally.  I decided to look at famous old sports imagery for inspiration on composition and really liked the famous Mohammed Ali photograph and decided it would be fun to pay homage to it, through adding in arcade cabinets and players. For my second image I toyed around with the idea of using fighting game characters such as Ryu from street fighter, I even endeavored to create one of my own characters, looking at obscure martial arts that haven’t been utilized yet in any fighting game I know of. However I preferred my other ideas so I left these designs for possible use in another project. Instead for my second poster design I decided that I would use a subtle reference to rock em sock em robots. With two boxers in the center and a player with controls at each side. Additionally I decided to have one of the fighters dissolving in code to symbolise that it is a video game character. Additionally I may include the puppet strings i mentioned previously as I quite like the analogy. For my final image I decided to go with one of the earlier images I sketched out as I really enjoyed the triangular composition. This design had the player holding his fight stick behind two fighters that he would play.

For these images I have decided to continue experimenting with my new pixel style to see how well it works as a static image rather than the animations that I had been making previously. I’m enjoying working in this style so it will be an interesting exercise. Due to the more simplistic aesthetic of pixel art this will allow me to focus on my use of colour and composition instead. An inspiration for me in terms of colour is the Manga artist Hirohiko Araki, author of the JoJo’s Bizzare adventure series of manga, whose colour pallets keep evolving throughout the seasons yet always remained super interesting and abstract.

Evaluation

I feel like these images turned out super well in terms of composition and colour. I feel like they may be some of the best work I have produced thus far. I feel like the pastel tones I have opted to go for harmonises really well and makes the image pleasing to look at. However I feel there is room for improvement. With the puppet/computery fighters I feel like the player in the foreground should be further to the left and maybe in less saturated colours as I feel like it draws the eye away from the combatants. Additionally on the ‘The mind behind the fighter’ image I feel like is should have chosen a different highlight colour or perhaps line weight on the boxer’s shorts as I feel like it draws the eye more than it should.

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