xXx_G4M1NG_H3ADS3Tz_xXx: Color Connotation, Black Space, and Meaningful Connections

The Audience

Gaming headsets may seem an irrelevant accessory (and a pricey one too), but they are often an integral part of professional gaming, or eSports, and a sought after product for those that play online multiplayer video games.  And while these headsets may not compare in audio quality by price to other brands of headphones, their aforementioned status remains.  As such, companies like Turtle Beach SteelSeries that make gaming headsets and other accessories often target those who participate in competitive online gaming to some extent.  ESports is a key part of this demographic, and gaming teams like FaZe and Ninja Pyjamas (seen in Figure 2) are utilized in advertisements akin to a sports drink company’s use of famous athletes.  It is perhaps no surprise, then, that gaming headset advertisements often bear strikingly similar resemblances to advertisements from companies like Powerade, Gatorade, or G Fuel.  Advertisements for gaming headsets often create a competitive, high-intensity tone, with high-resolution depictions of the product lit prominently against a minimalist backdrop.  The use of color, white space, and type, are all effective and cater to their somewhat niche audience (certainly niche in comparison to major sport drink companies).


Black Space and Position

A noticeable feature of most of these advertisements is joint


Figure 1: This ad for an Astro headset, eSports team FaZe edition (logo seen at bottom right-hand corner), is seen representing purposeful use of color and white space. 

use of an abundance white space with artificial lighting effects surrounding the product.  Almost every print advertisement displaying a gaming headset that was analyzed in this project uses a black background, with a single color which highlights the headset. If any color or design exists in the background, it is usually given a transparent quality as seen in the above image.  The headset is also usually aligned right or left, but almost never center.  Opposite the headset is usually the title, logo, and a list of notable features.  Such features, often addressing concerns of audio quality, functionality, and comfort, seem to be an integral part of the advertisement, so much so that the readers attention is equally drawn to the text and the image of the headset.  In every advertisement used in this project, sans-serif type was exclusively used.  This is likely connected directly with the competitive tone and nature of the advertisements, as this more minimal font emphasizes boldness and simplicity.  Additionally, the type is usually white or the dominating color as seen in the picture above, and easily stands out against the background.  A final point to note is the angle at which the headset is displayed.  The product always seems to be shown at an angle that showcases both the inside and outside of the earpieces.  In the sample of advertisements studied there was one exception to several of these described trends: an advertisement which portrayed a center aligned headset, directly facing the reader.  The usual angling of the headset in these advertisements seems to be used to showcase the unique and recognizable logo, while also showing the inside of the earpieces.  This exception may not suffer any advantage however.  It may be the case that this brand, which did not feature a logo (other than their name) on the advertisement, has no need in displaying the side of the headset because there is no such logo on it.




As stated before, these advertisements often utilize a dominating color.  This minimalist color use functions to create an intense and competitive mood, while maximizing simplicity.  Almost every one of the advertisements for gaming headsets examined in this project creates a distinct focus on a color, usually red, blue, or green.  Moreover, different companies are strongly associated with a particular color.  For example, Turtle Beach headsets are often green and black, which is usually reflected in advertisements in which they are displayed.  There is also similar color continuity between product advertisement and sponsored parties.  Many professional gaming, or eSports, teams are sponsored by companies that produce gaming accessories, which can be seen in Figure 1’s advertisement.  In this image, eSports team Faze’s red logo  match perfectly with the


Figure 2: This advertisement by graphic designer Nikolaj Holm, showcases another example of the connection between eSports and the headset product.  

Astro headset, against a background composed almost entirely of whitespace, save for the red aura around the headset.  These companies demonstrate an excellent and purposeful use of color continuity between their products, advertisements, and eSports figures and logos, which their target audience will likely identify.  Further, these companies also utilize connotative color meanings.  In two advertisements which featured blue and black headphones, ice and other cold imagery were used.  In Figure 2, a white and light blue headset in the foreground is encased in a block of ice, with a background of snowy mountains.  Thus, advertisements for gaming headsets use color sparingly and effectively, often with a single color as a the focal point of the advertisement, invoking conscious and unconscious linkages to familiar ideas, and helping to create a competitive and serious tone.



Summation and Problems

Advertisements for gaming headsets are extremely effective in terms of their ability to address their target audience in meaningful ways, all while maximizing simplicity. Although most featured a similar, minimalist presentation of the gaming headset, there were some by SteelSeries which addressed their target audience in very meaningful ways, while not showing their product.  The picture below is a clever way of addressing the main purpose of buying and using gaming headphones.  The image depicts a video game setting and mech that are generic enough for the audience to make connections to a


Figure 3: This advertisement by SteelSeries features a witty illustration of their product’s functionality

variety of video games such as the more recent and well-known Titanfall.  What’s more important here is that the mech’s weaponry is replaced with party blowers.  At the bottom right-hand corner is an explanation that highlights the headset’s purpose in providing the user with superb audio quality.  In this research,there seems to be a lack of advertisements that merge such clever depictions of purpose and functionality, with effective images of the product itself.  Utilizing both, while perhaps favoring one, would provide an extremely effective product representation. Other, minor problems that were found in this study include the lack of contrast between the foreground and background.  Headsets, usually black, are only separated from their background with artificial lighting, glow, or color.  Figure 2 shows the same with a white and light blue headset encased in a block of ice, against a backdrop dominated by similar colors.







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