Above: My two topics, Jenkins and Modding, demonstrated by that time Jenkins modded himself into a game. Please Note, that didn't actually happen. Probably.
Henry Jenkins, in his 2004 Convergent Culture, actually predicted (or prophesied if you like him that much) many of the different problems that convergence is bringing to media. Jenkins even goes so far as to address my technology, Video Game Modding, specifically. How nice of him. Unfortunately, he does not go so far as coming to my house and writing this blog post for me, so I will ask you bear with me as I give it a shot.
Tensions and conflicts, though not yet abounding, are beginning to appear in regard to both convergence and video game modding. As of 2004, there weren’t many outstanding examples of all out conflicts in modding for Jenkins to muse on and that left him the chance to predict the nature and resolution of the conflicts in broader, cross platform terms. In the 2004 article “The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence” (Published in The International journal of Cultural Studies), Jenkins lists nine areas wherein he predicted “important negotiations between producers and consumers” would occur either as a result of conflict or in order to avoid it. Not all these points are relevant to VGM but the two most relatable can be found below.
– “Redefining intellectual property rights”
Of course, this was going to be a big one. Video games are a multi-billion dollar media industry and as such, the control of IP would be hotly contested. In regard to video Games, this is reflected in the tired old example of Blizzard vs. Valve. Legal precedents are set as to who owns what after content is produced by a third party modder who then goes onto create mod-based content commercially. How very interesting.
– “Renegotiating relations between producers and consumers.”
In regard to VGM, this is vital. The Video Gaming industry never saw the modding community as any sort of threat and dodged any possible conflict by supporting and encouraging the community as a way to reinvigorate old products and extend the life of new ones (Jenkins, 2004). Though Jenkins could see this happening at the time of writing Convergence Culture, it is hard to believe that he could foresee the rapid and extreme evolution of this embrace. For example, the development company Bohemia Interactive has taken the step of putting a challenge to prosumers to produce a mod of their game ARMA III, encouraging this by offering a €200,000 reward for the best total modification and a smattering of smaller prizes for partial modifications. The challenge is called “Make ARMA, not War” and gosh darn, is it awesome. Not only is an industry encouraging modding, it is essentially paying modders to create content, possibly the most dramatic change in the Producer/Consumer relationship across the media board to date. I like to think Jenkins is as excited about this as I am.
There are countless other ways that the tensions and conflicts predicted by Jenkins in 2004 regarding VGM have changed the Video Gaming industry, but Jenkins two points above are the most relevant. I would like to keep going on this but, well, word counts are a bitch.
- Jenkins, H (2004) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, NYU Press, New York
- Jenkins, H (2004) “The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence”, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Sage Publications. Vol 7, http://eng1131adaptations.pbworks.com/f/Jenkins,+Henry++-+The+Cultural+Logic+of+Media+Convergence.pdf
- Image sourced from here, http://www.dieponderzoek.nl/het-boek-dat-iedere-media-onderzoeker-gelezen-moet-hebben-wordt-20/