On productivity and game fandom

Hanna Wirman

Abstract


As a result of its unique characteristics as a technology and a medium, a computer game engages its players with several novel forms of coproductivity, such as modding, the making of machinima videos, and the writing of game play walkthroughs. Depending on the game, genre, and playing style, the player is either expected or encouraged to create game content and game-related texts of her own. This essay discusses the productive practices surrounding computer games, proposing five dimensions of player productivity: (1) game play as productivity; (2) productivity for play: instrumental productivity; (3) productivity beyond play: expressive productivity; (4) games as tools; and (5) productivity as a part of game play. Such mapping reveals limitations in views that consider fandom predominantly as productivity or approach player coproductivity straightforwardly as fandom. The essay aims to illustrate that we should look for alternative manifestations of fandom among players, those not solely based on productivity. By exploring various ways in which players of computer games take part in the production of the games they play, the essay discusses games as an excellent example of a participatory culture because of the blurring of professional and hobbyist productivity in games. Since new motivations for productivity are proposed, this view informs research about fandom and productivity in current media culture in general.

Keywords


Cocreativity; Coproductivity; Computer games; Fans; Participation; Productivity; "The Sims;" "World of Warcraft"

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