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End of audience
The use of digital media by the Assassin's Creed franchise provides a great deal of evidence to support Shirky’s claim that contemporary media producers use two-way communication processes to market and distribute their products.
The beta release of Assassin's Creed Three Liberation on its fan web forum six months prior to its official launch allowed Ubisoft to test drive its new PS Vita game with established fans of the AC franchise and to also kick start its slow burn marketing campaign.
Ubisoft’s use of social media platforms also offered numerous opportunities for fans to comment on gaming content. Ubisoft, here, engages in hashtag tracking: a real time focus group that the company uses to refine the Assassin's Creed gaming experience.
Ubisoft also affects a faux personal connection with fans by highlighting and retweeting fanart, cosplay uploads and other UGC on social media networks. This two-way communication both nurtures and rewards fan activity, exploiting the digital labour of their audience to market AC products across fan networks without the need for any financial outlay.
When audiences speak back to producers through online commentary or social media. Shirky tells us that contemporary audiences expect to be able to feedback - producers who don't facilitate audience based two-way conversations won't survive.
Media terminology used
Stands for 'user generated content'. UGC is published material that has been authored by everyday audience members.
Social media hashtags are used by media producers as real time focus groups - allowing producers to check whether audiences are responding positively or negatively to products. Most product launches are accompanied by social media hashtags to help producers monitor customer reactions.