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Fallout fans analyzed. Conclusion: Not so evil?
Community - posted by DarkUnderlord on Fri 27 June 2008, 06:10:48Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3
Fallout fans, those evil and hatred filled zealots who need to catch a disease and die, have been analyzed in-depth by some guy for his masters thesis. He wanted to look at the relationship between developers and fans and how company's deal with their audience. Here's a snip from part 1:
So how do producers and fans of media texts relate in this era of sudden interactivity?
That was what I wanted to understand as I began to examine how a specific group of digital-game fans engaged with producers and each other during a period of tension over the next installment of the game series. Fans of the digital-game series Fallout were active in voicing concern for the upcoming title Fallout 3 (set to release this fall), and did so on the forums of the game’s production studio, Bethesda Softworks. The heart of the tension was that Bethesda wasn’t the developer of Fallout 1 & 2, and was making drastic gameplay and narrative changes to Fallout 3. Analyzing forum interactions made for great study, since I had never seen research document regular producer/fan interaction so deeply, never mind the bombastic beauty of the forum’s confrontations. I’ve never seen such eloquent flames.
A few things impressed me. One of the first things I noticed was that even in a marketplace where geek is in, the producers still seemed to hold all the cards. It was Bethesda’s game. It was Bethesda’s site. It was their vision of Fallout that, whether valid or invalid, would hit the shelves. Fans, recognizing a lack of official ownership or control, acted as lobbyists and watchdogs, attempting to indirectly influence the integrity of Fallout 3 through pleas and petitions spread across thousands of forum posts. Bethesda employees, fittingly, treated fans like outsiders in their responses. Whether cordial or hostile (and different producers interacted in different ways at different times), the undertone was clear: we are the organization, you are the public. We’ll let you suggest, but we will decide. The text is ours.
... and here's a snip from part 2:
So there’s another counter-intuitive truth of the era. The interaction I found on the Fallout 3 forum was not too drastically different than the interaction I find in my fantasy football league — communities built on information and interpretation. These two categories of knowledge were first proposed by Nancy Baym in 2000. They fit in snug with Lévy’s propositions about knowledge communities and were all over the Fallout 3 forum. Most of the intense debates over the quality of Fallout 3 centered on the offer of information (such as a link to a screenshot or a quote from a producer) and the interpretation of that information. And in cases where there was no credible information to be proposed, speculation was a sufficient replacement. Even in the most heated moments of confrontation, information was a cardinal value. With very few exceptions, all the debates on the Fallout 3 forum were about knowledge.
Well, look on the bright side. At least it's not another study of BioShock.
Spotted @ No Mutants Allowed