By David Wiszniowski
I’d like to preface this entry by stating that this is the first of a three part blog discussing the changes of the Xbox, Xbox 360 and now the Xbox One. I would like to thank Dr. Charles Leech (Ph.D. Semiotics), Partner at ABM Research Ltd, for his aiding in a semiotic analysis. While these entries don’t specifically touch on ResearchGames™, I hope you will still find them interesting.
Part One: The Xbox
The first generation Xbox was introduced November 15th, 2001. And while I could take the time to type out its lengthy history, I don’t want this blog to come off as a Wikipedia entry. Instead, I’d like to start off with an idea that was presented to me when I was still attending my research analyst courses. During a presentation given to my class, Charles proposed to us that the Xbox was inherently feminine.Not a girly or sweet type of feminine, but instead a strong, fiercely independent picture of femininity.This is an important distinction to make for gamers, particularly teenage males, who are looking to engage with anthropomorphism
I first thought this was a stretch, being that at the time the gaming industry was even more male-oriented than it is now. But upon hearing the ideas proposed, I quickly became a believer. Charles began to vivisect the Xbox (as it is alive, more on that later) by examining the first gen Xbox logo. It displays a green “X” either sliced in, or breaking through the black outer layer of the logo. Here we can see the feminine in, at least, two different aspects. The first come from the “gash” nature of the logo, which I’m not going to put into words, but if you connect the ideas of gash and femininity than I’m pretty sure you’ll get the reference. From this opening in the logo, it is clear that something green is bursting through. Being that green is the colour of new life; we can infer that something is “hatching” from the Xbox. But what is it?
I’d like to now compare two different pictures; the first is the Xbox logo, and the second is a promotional poster for the 1979 film Alien.
Right away here, we can see a connection. We are presented with the idea that, whatever is hatching from the Xbox is living, and terrible in nature. Therein lies the femininity of the Xbox, not a typical view mind you, but one much more horrifying and sinister. We are presented with basic ideas that whatever alien, primal force is breaking through the opening here is both seductive and horrifying. The logo embodies a feminine wrath that draws us in, even though we know it is intrinsically dangerous. The feminine nature also presents itself in the most female of analogies, the egg. We can see that something is hatching from the Xbox. The Xbox’s sense of life comes from the imagery of something being broken open, or pushed through, reaffirming the feminine symbolism inherent throughout. Even the name Xbox has feminine associations when viewed through slang vernacular.
The font of the Xbox logo also ties back to that idea of something which is technologically advanced, but hungrily primitive. The font suggests the same foreign sense of life as the main logo with its violent green color.
So, to give a brief summary of the Xbox logo and its inherent femininity; we can see that the logo is feminine via its references to the symbolism of the egg, as well as its opening nature. When we examine the name and the font, we can again see feminine traits. We can assert that although it it’s feminine, it also embodies terror. We can infer that whatever comes forth from the Xbox will use its seductive nature in an attempt to destroy us.
We can see that the console is imprinted with a “X”, which we can now attribute to a more primal sense of femininity. We can also see that bursting through the center of the “X” is a raised green circle. Again, here we are subconsciously drawn to the symbolism of the egg. As the circle is green, we also remember the idea of a powerful, other-worldly creature breaking through the machine and consuming us. Even the controller has the logo on it, bringing us closer to the machine as it is, in a sense, connected to its mother via a cybernetic umbilical cord.
So, there you have it. Hopefully you will find the ideas I’ve reiterated above interesting. Part two of this trilogy will focus on the Xbox 360. Has it maintained its alien feminism? Changes were made to the logo for the 360 and the shape of the console was also physically different. What does this mean for the brand? What are they trying to convey? These are the ideas we will be examining in my next entry.