In her article, Understanding Visual Rhetoric, Mary Hocks examines three key elements of visual design in digital environments. These elements, audience stance, transparency, and hybridity, were designed to help make rhetorical meaning in digital spaces like the internet while maintaining visual rhetorical principles.
I have chosen a website for analysis that won an Awwward for its creative use of 1980’s digital gaming visuals. This website, called Blast Galaxy, is actually a website promoting a physical arcade in Amsterdam and offers information about that space.
When the reader first interacts with the website, it is to answer a question about the level of interaction the reader wants to have—a clear signal to audience stance within the website. The reader is required to select YES or NO in order to proceed to the website.
Clicking yes launches arcade music and is the only difference between the “experiences” offered. Simulating an arcade game, a pixelated transition graphic then takes the reader into a low-def “light speed.” Readers are then greeted with a description of the arcade and single menu button. All fonts are reminiscent of video game fonts—a blocky sans serif throughout. The menu button is the only clickable link on the page, and invites the audience to interact with it to proceed.
After clicking, the button morphs from “MENU” into “LOADING…” and then loads the next page, which provides a main menu to explore the different aspects of the arcade, once again encouraging the audience to participate.
Overall, the ethos of the website relies heavily on the design crossover from 80’s arcade games. Not only do the pixelated graphics and the sans serif font communicate credibility about arcade games, they also play to the pathos and nostalgia of the reader, which in turn influences audience stance.