Participatory culture; the WORLD of Warcraft

Media content provides the audience an alternative world, which the audience often want to see expanded. The audience engage in participatory media culture where consumers become prosumers (producers and consumers), content creators are of course aware of this culture. Thus, often creators will generate their media content to allow the audience to easily expand on this content. Creators have been doing this since 1932 where Bertolt Breecht and Walter Benjamin wanted to transform radio from a mere analogue device into a device that listeners would not only consume but also be a producer of information (Rassens 2005 p.24). Similarly today with game producers allowing the expansion of MODs.

Rassen (2005 p.24) argues that computer games are re-mediating the participatory culture, which as Rassen (2005 p.24) states was originally formed around television and films. Gaming culture has a strong history of fan communities whom have been active in creating new content (Humphreys, Fitzgerald, Banks et al. 2005 p.17). A perfect example of a participatory gaming culture is World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft is an extensive community that engages in content creation such as Machinima. Firstly what is Machinima?

Berkeley (2006 p.66) defines Machinima as a 3D computer animation gameplay video that has been recorded in real time and then used to produce original video narratives.

Though Machinima was not a planned outcome, Berkeley (2006 p.70) states that Machinima emerged as an unplanned result of user interaction. Nevertheless, whether it was a planned outcome or not Machinima is a popular user generated content.

World of Warcraft users also engage in Mod creation, comic creation as well as streaming on sites such as Twitch. Though there is also a large participatory culture offline, with fans engaging in cosplay of World of Warcraft characters, collecting Pop vinyls and collecting general merchandise of the franchise.

The participatory game culture is a new creative industry that has taken participatory culture to a new level. The audience are now able to expand their favourite games and therefore; expanding characters stories. This allows the creators and consumers of this user generated content to become fully emerged in the world the game provides them removing the games traditional barriers.

References:

Berkeley, Leo (2006), ‘Situating Machinima in the New Mediascape’, International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society. Vol 4. no. 2, pp.65-80.

Humphreys, Sal, Fitzgerald Brian, Banks John, Suzor Nic (2005), ‘Fan-based production for computer games: user-led innovation, the ‘drift of value’ and intellectual property rights’, Media International Australia, no 114, pp.16- 29.

Raessens, J. (2005). Computer games as participatory media culture. In J. Raessens & J. Goldstein (Eds.), Handbook of computer game studies (pp. 373-388). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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