Sunday, September 30, 2007

Recreation and Entertainment

The debate as to whether the chicken came before the egg or the egg before the chicken, is one that has been discussed and argued about for years, and in all likelihood will continue to be discussed and argued about for many years to come, there has been a similar debate about entertainment and recreation. Take a minute to consider the word ‘recreation’ think of it as re-creation as in re-making or re-constructing. Recreation is the process by which the mind and / or body can be rejuvinated through participation in pursuits that are considered by the individual as being satisfying or gratifying to self. These activities may include leisure pursuits, sports, hobbies, pastimes, and entertainment. Recreation is often participated in by individuals to rejuviante self outside of work and ‘life’s daily routine’, the benefit of recreational participation is often positive mental and / or physical well being.

The Oxford English (OED) Dictionary online defines recreation as being: ‘refreshment or comfort produced by something affecting the senses or body’, (first used in 1390); ‘comfort or consolation of the mind; that which comforts or consoles’ (first used in 1410); ‘the action of recreating (oneself or another), or fact of being recreated, by some pleasant occupation, pastime or amusement (first used in 1400) and ‘a pleasurable exercise or employment (first used in 1430).

Entertainment did not appear until almost 200 years later in 1610 where it was originally defined as being ‘the action of upholding or maintaining’, in 1612 this became ‘the action of occupying (a person's) attention agreeably’. Despite the fact that these definitions have changed through the centuries, the dates of usage clearly demonstrate that recreation as a recognised concept certainly came before entertainment, at least in the English language.

Entertainment is something that has the primary purpose of engaging or captivating an audience through sensory stimulation and / or emotion. It is participated in by people in their own time to satisfy a number of needs that are recreational in nature, for example adult entertainment may satisfy sexual urges, edutainment may satisfy the desire to learn, and music may satisfy the need to relax. All forms of entertainment may satisfy the need to alleviate boredom as a ‘time-filler’ which is why the industry as a whole is growing exponentially as the world in which we live becomes increasingley industrialised, with those seeking recreation having increased amounts of both time and disposable income.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Tourism & Entertainment Industries

Entertainment is the driver of many tourist journeys, however both the tourism and entertainment industries are separate, albeit sharing some commonalities. According to Mathieson and Wall (1982, p.1) tourism is the ‘temporary movement to destinations outside the normal home and workplace, the activities undertaken during the stay and the facilities created to cater for the need of tourists’, therefore the tourism industry includes (amongst other things): travel agents; tour operators; modes of transport; the transport infrastructure; support services; accommodation; and attractions.

Attractions are an extremely important part of the tourism industry and are the driver for much tourism having taken place. According to Swarbrooke (1995, p.3) tourist attractions are ‘the most important component in the tourism system. They are the main motivators for tourist trips and are the core of the tourism product. Without attractions there would be no need for other tourism services. Indeed tourism as such would not exist if it were not for attractions’. A great deal of tourist attractions have strong entertainment connections, being areas that are used primarily for an audience to be engaged or captivated, through sensory stimulation and / or emotion, i.e. entertainment venues. These include sports stadia, theatres, and museums, all of which could be considered to be tourist attractions, indeed a great many (but not all) entertainment venues are tourist attractions.

The entertainment industry is a vast entity featuring numerous categories of entertainment (see post below), which includes much more than merely venue based entertainment, indeed broadcast media, the internet and computer games, are just some aspects of the entertainment industry that do not take place in entertainment venues, and are therefore not a part of the tourism industry. However it cannot be denied that there is a strong relationship between the two industries.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Typology for the Entertainment Industry

Entertainment is recreational by nature, meaning that it is part of a process undertaken by people who wish to rejuvenate their body and / or mind. Not all recreational activity is entertainment, indeed recreation also encompasses leisure, hobbies, pastimes, and sports. People seeking entertainment form part of a recreational audience who are searching for something that has the primary purpose of engaging or captivating them through sensory stimulation and / or emotion. An audience can be as large as infinite, and as few as one. It is important to remember that entertainment does not have to be jovial, or created with any form of humour or light relief in mind (traditionally referred to as ‘light entertainment’). The Oscar winning movie ‘Schindler’s List’ is both engaging and captivating and certainly stirs emotion in many who watch it, however few people would consider it light relief.

The global entertainment industry is massive with numerous entities that are worth over half a trillion $US annually (Vogel, 2004). These entities fall within a wide variety of sectors. In an attempt to try and categorise all of these sectors, the following entertainment typology is offered:

Adult Entertainment
Broadcast Media
Cinema and film
Computer Gaming
Online Entertainment
Published Printed Media
Spectator Sports
Staged Shows

A definition for each and some examples now follow:

Adult Entertainment

‘Entertainment that arouses sexual desire by displays of eroticism.’

Peep shows
Staged sex shows
Lap dancing
Pole dancing
Erotic massage

Broadcast Media

‘Entertainment that is produced for mass audiences and broadcast / transmitted / distributed from a distant source.’

Digital Cable / Satellite / Freeview / other
Pay per view


Cinema and film

‘The entire spectrum of organisations that are concerned with the production, distribution, and showing of big-screen movie entertainment.’

The film / movie making industry
The film / movie distribution industry

Independent and specialist

Computer Gaming

‘Entertainment that involves the use of any electronically operated system whereby challenges are presented and an input device is used to manipulate images (and usually sounds) produced by a computer or micro-processor on some kind of display’

Console Games e.g. Nintendo Wii, Playstation, X-Box
Online gaming including massively multiplayer online games
Games for personal computers and Apple Macs
Arcade games


‘Entertainment that involves the celebration or commemoration of the values or beliefs of a particular segment of society.’

Cultural shows and displays such as poetry recitals and bull fights


‘Entertainment that involves the watching of rhythmic movement (often to music) with pre-determined or improvised steps.’

Live dance shows and displays, includes:
Line dancing
Break dancing
Any other kind of dance display.


‘Entertainment that is designed to promote knowledge, awareness and learning.’

Art galleries
Guided tours
Adult education classes
Art and craft demonstrations
Historic re-enactments
Stately homes
Shows and displays with an educational component, such as transport shows e.g. airshows and animal displays e.g. falconry


‘Entertainment that centres around risking the loss of money for a possible gain.’



'Entertainment where soft body tissues are manipulated for physical or mental rejuvination.'
Includes all types of massage.


‘Entertainment that is predominantly auditory and incorporates instrumental and / or vocal tones that are structured and continuous for a period of time.’

All recorded music:
All music genres whether mainstream ‘popular’, or niche / specialist

All live music:
Music ‘festivals’
Brass Bands


Online Entertainment

‘Entertainment that is accessed via web browsers or other software on computers or other devices that are connected to the internet. These often take the form of interlinked documents on the world wide web’

Web pages
Social networking
DHTML & ‘Flash’ documents
Online streaming video
Online gaming including massively multiplayer online games
Other downloads

Published Printed Media

‘Entertainment that is typically paper based, involving the use of printed text and graphics’



‘Entertainment that is designed to sell a product, belief or ideal with the specific intention of increasing take-up amongst the audience.’

Themed bars and restaurants
Trade shows such as fashion shows and the motor show
Product demonstrations
Pub quizzes
Sponsored competitions
Political rallies

Spectator Sports

‘Entertainment where an audience watches an activity that involves physical exertion and fair competition.’

Pitch sports
Water sports
Motor sports
Court sports
Country pursuits
Track and field
Winter sports
Extreme sports


‘Entertainment which utilises and / or celebrates the belief that supernatural powers can have a control over destiny and fate.’

Religious festivals
Palm readers

Staged Shows

‘Entertainment that is predominantly set on (or within) a purpose-built area where a pre-determined story is acted or performed.’

Dance shows
Wrestling entertainment
Stand up comedy
Sketch shows
Magic shows
Puppet shows
Multi-performance shows


‘Entertainment that is intended to thrill, excite, stimulate the senses – and sometimes cause fright.’

Theme parks
Multi-leisure parks
Water parks
Ghost tours / walks / hunts
Murder mysteries

The complexity of the entertainment industry is such that many entertainment entities would fit within one or more of the above categories, for example a television advert could be considered to be both broadcast media and sellertainment, and ballet could be considered to be dance, and a staged show, having elements of music could also partially include it within this category. Therefore it needs to be recognised that this is an industry where few entities are homogenous in nature, and that many can include characteristics from a number of sectors. What is more certain is that mostly anything that has been created with the primary purpose of engaging or captivating an audience through sensory stimulation and / or emotion should fit into at least one of the above sectors. This is work in progress so I would be happy to hear from anybody that disagrees with this or can think of anything that doesn’t.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Novelty of Entertainment

Imagine the scene, you look out of your window every day at a particular time, and you see a man walking a dog, the man is average height, average weight, wearing normal clothes, walking unremarkably. His dog is a brown mongrel, about 50 centimetres tall, and 80 centimetres long, it is on a brown leather lead and does not stand out in any way as being different. The sight of the man walking the dog is typical, and to most people in England and in many other parts of the world this would not be considered as being special.

One day you look out of your window at the same time, and you see the same man walking again with the same dog, except this time the dog is not on a lead, instead it walks upright besides the man on it’s two hind legs. You momentarily stop what you are doing and are transfixed by the spectacle of the upright walking dog as you watch it walk with the man into the distance. When somebody else comes into the room you immediately tell her about the dog that is walking into the distance with the man, she looks at you unremarkably and says that she sees this every day outside of her house, and does not seem as excited or enthusiastic about the site as what you do.

This scenario is used to demonstrate the importance of novelty in entertainment. According to the Apple online dictionary (2007) novelty is the quality of being new, original or unusual. When you looked out of the window and saw the dog walking on two hind legs, you saw something new, this captivated you and you were entertained by it. To the other person this was not a novel sight, and therefore not entertaining. In real life there are actually dogs who are trained to walk on their hind legs for entertainment purposes, and to many audiences this is a novel sight.

A great deal of entertainment is novel, sword swallowers and stilt walkers are not every day sites to most people and therefore would prove to be an entertaining spectacle, however to somebody who worked in a circus this may not be the case. Novelty is one measure by which the quality of entertainment may be measured by an audience. The challenge is to present something that the audience will find novel so that they are entertained by it. The now defunct ‘National Centre for Popular Music’ in Sheffield was praised for it’s novel building design, but slated for it’s unremarkable and often ‘boring’ exhibits, this lead to low visitor numbers and eventually the Centre’s closure. The buildings are now used by Sheffield Hallam University’s Students Union, as an entertainment venue and the base of a radio station.

Update 27th March 2008: See this -