Rhys Jones

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Research Title
Videogame Spectatorship and Secondary Fandom Value

Keywords

Videogame, spectatorship, fandom, playbour, esports, livestreaming

About the Research

This doctoral research will investigate online videogame spectatorship fandom and commercial practices within these fandoms and their benefit to videogame design as well as player communities. The main objective of the study is to map the links between videogames what I call secondary fandom and the value flow between their fan works and the original videogame developer. Further aims are to find the ways in which these links can help developers cherish fan contributions via gameplay design, and finally to see if there are differences between secondary fandom value creation on various platforms. Secondary Fandom here refers to a fandom that has arisen one step removed from an intellectual property. A game developer releases a game, people become fans of the game and start making content out of it using the game’s IP. These fans then develop their own videogame spectator fans who may or may not be fans of the game itself. It is these fans one step removed from the game developer’s IP to which I refer to as secondary fans. 

The Primary research question is: What is the relationship between videogame developers/publishers and value creation of secondary fandom? With the following sub-questions;

a)      what constitutes the value creation of secondary fandom?

b)      what are the effects of secondary fandom value flow on their respective fandoms?

c)      how can a theoretical framework of this relationship help videogame designers, developers and publishers cherish these fan contributions to improve their design?

Research Methodology:

 In researching the fan communities alongside the videogame developers, I will be able to complete a stakeholder analysis (Mitroff 1983, Brugha 2000) of this value creating process. Within each case study, I will engage in qualitative research in the form of in-depth interviews of fan content creators to gather their insights on value creation aspects of fandoms. I will engage in virtual ethnography (Hine, 2000, Pink, Horst et al, 2016) in order to experience these fan works from within the community. 

I propose recruiting participants from various game spectatorship fandoms to participate in a videogame spectatorship journal. Participants will need to fill in a daily journal of their game spectatorship activities along with reflections and their honest feelings and opinions about the reasons for watching them for a time of seven consecutive days. This method is adapted and inspired by the Game Journal method used by Games and Transgressive Aesthetics project led by Kristine Jørgensen in the University of Bergen, Norway in 2016. Adapting from a pre-existing method means I am able to read up on the existing reflections on the data collection via gameplay journals that has already been published. I also found that Journaling has been used as an ethnographic tool by several other researchers (Pandey 2013, Hallet & Barber 2014 and Davies et al 2014) which gives me confidence in it as a tool. Furthermore, the idea of getting participants to write journals and then interviewing them using the journal as a stimulus reminded me of Jori Pitkänen’s chapter (2015) on stimulated recall as a game research method. In addition to the journaling process I intend to do a stakeholder analysis of associated members within the ecosystem. 

Results / outcomes:

  1. A link between monetized fan labour and effect on parent companies.
  2. Framework to help game designers cherish fan contributions.
  3. Map of player-developer ecosystem to benefit efficient community management.

 

Key Publications:

Wirman, H., & Jones, R. (2018). Voice & Sound: Player Contributions to Speech. In Avatar, Assembled: The Social and Technical Anatomy of Digital Bodies (pp. 61-69). New York: Peter Lang.

Wirman, H., & Jones, R. (2018). Let's Play Performance as Transgressive Play. In Transgression in Games and Play (pp. 99-113). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Wirman, H., & Jones, R. (2020). “Block the Spawn Point”: Play and Games in the Hong Kong 2019 Pro-democracy Protests. DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere. Retrieved from http://www.digra.org/digital-library/publications/block-the-spawn-point-play-and-games-in-the-hong-kong-2019-pro-democracy-protests/

Supervisors

Dr Huaxin Wei (Chief Supervisor)
Dr Kenny Chow (Co-supervisor)
Dr Hanna Wirman (External Co-Supervisor)

Qualifications
BA, University of Warwick
MSc, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Distinction)

Specialization/Interests

Game studies, Fandom studies, Videogame Spectatorship, Esports, Hong Kong in videogames

Date of Completion

August 2021

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