CATS – An Introduction to Semiotics

During our CATS session on Semiotics, I was asked to complete a “worksheet” on Semiotics.

NOTE: This may be completely wrong. If you find any errors, let me know in the comments. I am also awaiting this piece of work being marked by my CATS tutor. Edits to this post are pending!

1) Definitions – Note down the definitions of key terms from today’s session in your logbook.

Semiotics: The study of signs, symbols, signification and communication.

Signifier: The form of the sign.

Signified: The sign’s meaning.

Denote: Literal meaning of a signifier.

Connote: Secondary meaning of a signifier.

2) Key Thinkers – Note down a short biography and key ideas associated with Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce.

Ferdinand de Saussure was born in 1857 in Geneva, Switzerland. Saussure is most famous for his lectures in general linguistics at the University of Geneva and also as one of the founding fathers of semiotics. Saussure penned the original concepts of the Sign, Signifier, Signified and Referent.

Charles Sanders-Peirce was born in 1839 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Sanders-Peirce is most famous for logic, mathematics, semiotics and also the founding of pragmatism. In terms of semiotics, at around the 1860s, Sanders-Peirce studied logic as formal semiotic. He held the belief that all thought is in signs. He said the following on the subject:

“To say, therefore, that thought cannot happen in an instant, but requires a time, is but another way of saying that every thought must be interpreted in another, or that all thought is in signs.”

—Peirce 1868

3) Find one example of an icon, a symbol and an index.

Icon: Internet Explorer “E” Icon

Symbol: Crucifix – Christianity

Index: Steam – Boiling Water

4) Find an example of games and web design and undertake a semiotic reading:

Streets of Rage

a) What signs can you identify?

Arrows – Pointing to the direction that the player should go.

Health Bar – To show how “healthy” the player is.

Foods (Apples, Chicken, Cake) – Once picked up, give the player more health in case of an apple or a chicken and an extra life in case of the cake.

b) What do they denote/represent?

The arrows show a player elements of gameplay involved in the game. A flashing arrow denotes the direction the player should go. The health bar symbolises how healthy the player is. This game also uses food in order to replenish health and also to gain extra lives.

c) What are the connotations of the signs you have identified?

The implementation of food to restore health and grant extra lives is interesting in terms of connotations because as human beings, we view food as a way of obtaining energy and this has been implemented into the game first hand.

d) Who is the audience?

When the game was initially released, it was aimed at teenagers.

e) How do you read the meanings being communicated to the viewer?

Because the signs used in this game are all in place to aid the player, they are read as intended very easily. I personally do not believe that the meanings in place here could be misunderstood as they have been implemented very clearly.

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5 Responses to CATS – An Introduction to Semiotics

  1. Dazz Man Maggee says:

    If you ever have the time, I reccomend the Streets of Rage Remake. It should still be available to download as it was a freeware project by independent developers. I just think SEGA demanded they cease and desist on the count of them making them look bad.

    • davidjesmith says:

      I have that bad boy downloaded already! Such a great remake. Shame Sega had to rain on that parade!

      • Dazz Man Maggee says:

        I shoulda known you’d have beaten me to it. You’re like, some kind of… gaming genie. If there is something to know about, you know about it before the developers do

  2. Pingback: CATS Logbook – Session 3 – Semiotics | Sanctuary Games

  3. Pingback: Semiotics Task- CATS | PHASEgaming

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