Introducing topic. How do scholars in fan & media studies articulate their discipline? How do these disciplines interact? When don’t they?
Shares current book project: discussing labor & affordances on Steam. Last Nov Steam launched Steam Playtest, a way for indie developers to test games early. How does this impact the labor market for games?
Steam Playtest has been called “Beta testing for beta testing.” Steam also has Early Access, which lets indie developers charge for in-development games.
All of this involves relying on Steam users to perform labor, to do QA work for free or pay for the opportunity to participate in the development process.
These features displace pro playtesters & QA reps.
This reliance on fan affective labor isn’t unique to games, but Steam playtest/Early Access provides a rich area for case study.
How do we define the type of interaction at play in licensed tabletop (esp card) games? Are the people best understood as fans or players?
Describing experience of going to tournament for the Game of Thrones Living Card Game.
Now talking about writing tournament report to post to Fantasy Flight (game publisher) forums.
Licensed games matter and in many ways. Bestor describes needing another outlet for GoT fandom beyond books & shows.
Story worlds vs/as game worlds.
Do Bestor’s experiences make him a fan? A player?
Who/what counts as a gamer? A game?
How does a fan identity get drawn out differently in fan-created product places like Etsy for example, Stardew Valley blanket yes, but it’s hard to find fiber crafts for FPSs like Call of Duty.
When we consider game fandom, we should “remember the cozy fandoms and that digital leisure is not one-size-fits-all.”
Discussing “Netflix Anime Festival” & how Netflix often creates “anime” that doesn’t even have an anime studio/creative team.
Netflix is redefining what “anime fan” means by describing anyone who has watched any “anime” on Netflix as a fan, when Vidolova sees this as a tension between defining fan & user.
Gamers come into play considering “Netflix Geeked,” a subbrand that includes sci fi, fantasy, superheroes, & more (with video games & anime as part of that “more”)
Generalizing what anime means - animated adaptation of video game property = “anime”
Netflix branding defines fan according to engaging with these at all rather than a coherent community.
Netflix & Crunchyroll have both created animated Youtubers do promote anime & video games.
e-girls on TikTok create a mise-en-scene of playing video games; identity of player or fan is secondary to creating aesthetic image.
Fan studies “is attuned to affective attachment to particular story worlds and relationships” while the TikTok egirls are more about putting together pieces and fragments.
Game studies looks at these kinds of “fan fragments” and how they come together in a different way than fan studies does. e.g. how do people choose an avatar?
Discussing crunch time in the game industry and the relationship players have with it. Industry pros sometimes try to rally fans around crunch practices.
Method - analyzing player reactions to articles about crunch practices; study is ongoing, but so far more fans seem to support crunch practices.
Gamer identity is forefronted both among supporters & critics.
Consumer identity and fan identity are also present. Value judgments justified by identity all around: if you’re a fan, wouldn’t you object to crunch time bc you care about the people making the game?
Gamer/consumer/fan identites have been examined more in fan studies than in game studies.
First, the state of fan studies in Brazil: research focused on digital settings but still working on integrating digital methods with other methods. Transcultural fan studies scholarship does focus on music fandom.
8 themes identified in lit review of Brazilian fan studies research - 1) The fan condition and identities; 2) Fandom consumption practices; 3) Digital Media fan practices and dynamics; 4) Fandom as community;
5) Fan activism; 6) Politics and Fandom; 7) Nostalgia and fans; 8) Fan production and works
Currently building Brazilian fan studies digital archive at https://www.estudosdefas.com.br/ and next step is interviewing authors.Dr Lies Lanckman 🏳️🌈:
Dr. Lies Lanckman is looking at Yiddish-language Hollywood fan magazines, esp. from the 30s & analyzing fan letters in the magazines.Allegra Rosenberg:
“Affordances & Paradigms in Platformed Fandom”
Fandom has moved from self-contained/self-managed spaces to platforms controlled by others/corporations.
Examples of commercial + cultural tension in fandom use of platforms: Tumblr’s porn ban • YA NFT scandal • TikTok Omegaverse LARP • Hannibal Twitter Wars • Censorship of AO3 in China
Considerations: Algorithmic fandom, boundary-enforcing norms, encounters with the fourth wall, platform-native emergent fan practices, AO3 as anti-platform
Important to keep in mind that while platform affordances shape fan behavior, “fans find a way”
Future RQs: Where can resistance & creativity be found in platformed fan practices? How does digital literacy/understanding of the nature of a given platform affect norms and values of the fan communities that use it?
How does the “first fandom experiences” of teenagers materially differ when it occurs via algorithm, and how does it continue to affect their journey through fandom?Christina Reichts:
“From tool to lens - A case study of applying digital methods in fan studies”
Research project - “Marveling at Darcy Lewis”
Scraped information & texts from AO3 and ended up with about 2,419 fics
Using a tool called tag refinery alongside the process of topic model analysis for text selection
Are we using digital methods as tools or as lenses for engaging with theoretical frameworks: queer studies, feminist studies, intersectional feminism?Another Alex:
“Mushroom for improvement: Theorizing a new model for the circulation of fan objects”
Mycelium model focuses on movement of fan objects, agency of fans, flexible & agile model that is based off the radiating organism of fungi with genre as scaffolding
Multimodal methodology: autoethnography, desk research using thursdaysfallenangel’s survey on fanfiction consumption & sharing habits, case studies
Mad at Your Dad/Craiglist Thanksgiving trope. Based off Craigslist ad where poster offered self as deliberately bad Thanksgiving date
Used manual data collection to look at post with 562K+ notes at time of writing, and then GEPHI as network visualization tool
Alex is sharing super cool visualization with posts indicated by dots, reblogs by lines, and fandom by color of dot & line
Multifandom blogs provided most notes, then small clusters of particular fandom blogsAdriana Amaral:
asks @alexanthoudakis about using a mushroom model which reflects a broader trend in cultural studies of using biological metaphors. What are the implications for theoretical considerations?Another Alex:
Considered metaphors for things that happened organically, references other scholars who use virality as a metaphor. Important not to forget the PEOPLE in the process.
Originally started with the idea of tentacles, but they only radiate out from one point, don’t capture horizontal circulation of fan objects. Same text that suggested tentacles also discussed mushrooms, so began researching mushrooms
Found philosophy paper that used mycelium as metaphor, cemented the idea that Alex was looking for.
This doesn’t include the discussion/Q&A because things started to go so fast I couldn’t keep up.Stacy Lantagne:
introducing other panelists in “The Money Question”
Copyright law is designed to incentivize creativity, “to reward authors for being creative.”
Lawyers think about financial repercussions of creativity/copyright, but fans tend to not focus on finances as reason for engaging in fanac, esp. fic.
Copyright law suggests that people require the financial incentive to be creative, but fans demonstrate there are many other motivations.
If we know people will be creative with motivations other than financial, then what is copyright law accomplishing if the incentive assumption is flawed?
Is copyright blocking creativity because it is too restrictive?
If $ enters a space where previously it wasn’t part of the motivation/incentive structure, how do copyright considerations change once $ is introduced to the space?
When fans demand compensation, it gets stickier because they are creating within the world of somebody else’s creation. Fanworks, however, are protected by fair use, “a really messy doctrine,” with market harm as one of the explicit factors evaluated to determine if it’s fair use.
We want to protect public good with copyright, not private gain. If you’re making $, you can presumably afford to license intellectual property.
Copyright exceptions for news reporting & education, for example, promote the public good.
Fair use doctrine doesn’t provide ability to exploit EVERYTHING, some things are reserved for creator.
If you aren’t making $, copyright holder has a harder time arguing you’re affecting their market/bottom line, but if you are charging, now it looks like you’re siphoning $ from copyright holder.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN EVERYTHING DONE FOR FREE IS OKAY UNDER FAIR USE DOCTRINE. Some free stuff is still copyright infringement! eg music & video piracy
But also NOT EVERYTHING DONE FOR $ IS NOT FAIR USE.
“Keeping things noncommercial is the safest way that lawyers can see for protecting fan activities.” & this is why AO3 has lots of rules about noncommercial use.
$ attracts attention, so copyright holders are more likely to sue if $ is involved.
We are seeing more ways that fans monetize their creations & Stacey is curious about non-lawyers’ thoughts.
[quick disclaimer, Kimberly Hirsh is not A lawyer and Stacey Lantagne is not YOUR lawyer.]
What about when copyright holders claim that they own rights to fan work? Platforms that are monetizing fan labor?Daria Romanova:
Let’s talk about LARPS! Daria came from fashion & media studies & is new to fan studies in the past ~6 mos.
LARP = Live-Action Role Playing.
LARPing is an event and a game, often based on/inspired by media products, appeals to fans, utilizes physical assets like props, costumes, food, accommodation. Can’t be 100% free.
Is LARP a commercial endeavor or not?
LARPs aren’t always medieval/fantasy themed. Other examples: wizarding, Downton Abbey/Upstairs-Downstairs “Fairweather Manor,” Star Wars, Westworld.
You can’t participate in a LARP without spending $ on accommodations, tickets, costumes, props.
LARPs also have merchandise.
College of Wizardry LARP originally used Harry Potter terms, but received contact from legal (at WB? JKR estate?) & subsequently changed names.
Case study - Star Wars Saberfighting - you can pay to take lightsaber fighting classes, which resulted in a market for unlicensed light sabers.
There is a relationship between embodied fanac like LARPing & $, which creates tension btwn fan creations & licensed merch.Julie Escurignan:
Studying Game of Thrones fan experiences, analyzed brand, good brand due to fan loyalty & HBO branding work, with particular visual identity & brand image.
Distinction between official merchandise, licensed (like Monopoly), and unlicensed (like fan-created). Some fan creators do it just for fan love, some for career/biz, and some creators of unlicensed merch aren’t fans.
3 types of GoT on Etsy: reuse/distory/mock HBO features, inspired by GoT, GoT for SEO purposes (not actually GoT related)
Fan-made items tend to cost 2-3x less than similar official items.
While reappropriation items often are similar to official/licensed items, “inspired by” items - for example cosplay items - are filling a gap, as this kind of thing isn’t usually offered through official/licensed channels.
Fans in places where official places don’t ship (eg HBO doesn’t ship outside of USA) must choose either to purchase resold items that will ship to them or fan-created items that will ship to them.
Surveyed fans in English, French, & Spanish. About 1/5 of fans purchase exclusively fan creation, 70-80% prefer official, 50% or so buy both.
Fan tourists & cosplayers purchase more items than other fans. Fans mention Etsy as place to purchase
Fan consumers often like to purchase fan-created artifacts in order to support other fans.
Conflict btwn fans’ stated support of fan creators and actual purchasing habits which when possible they prefer to buy official products.