Being Cranky and Criticising Clicktavism

If you know me, dear reader, you’d know I’ve got an opinion about pretty much everything and I love the chance to voice that opinion. Take this, cyber activism.

First, to answer the question of the lecture, I do not prescribe to any social/political cause group on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. The closest that I come to anything similar is a couple of different mailing lists from social cause groups and political parties, but this is mainly for the sake of keeping informed about the different opinions and policies offered by these groups.

I should be honest, though, I don’t have a Facebook or Tumblr. I had one once but it slowly drove me crazy, in no small part due to the political and social and those that follow or endorse them on social media. I would be confronted on the odd occasion that I logged onto my computer by someone I knew touting a party or movement they had no idea about. People felt they had to prescribe to a movement simply because it was becoming popular and, through this almost self imposed peer pressure, groups would snowball into a seething mass of, what at least would appear to be support. What originates simply as a passing thought and a hit of the ‘like’ button manifests en mass and appears as a great swell of public opinion when, in reality, that opinion is apathy and the great swell is 30 seconds of reading and liking occurring between a bad meme and a quiz to find out which Game of Thrones character you would be (apparently I’d be Tywin Lannister).

The often referenced example of this is the Kony campaign. An ill-planned and researched  (if we are to believe it was not merely designed for fiscal gain) movement propagated on social media that appeared well supported but ultimately, though the lack of research and commitment from its organisers and it’s supposed supporters, became nothing more than an embarrassment for those that originally endorsed it. That said, the Arab Spring exemplified the potential for social media in politics and I can hardly ignore that. Suggestible is that the two cases differ because Kony 2012 attempted to bring change, in a large part, through movements on social media. During the various movements of the latter example, social media was simply used to coordinate, organise and spread ideology for a physical revolution (Meuleman, Boushel 2013).

I think that’s just about all the rant I can fit in this word count.

References

  • Harding, L. 2012, “Kony 2012 in review”, Journal of Human Rights Practice, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 461-462.
  • Meuleman, B. & Boushel, C. 2014, “Hashtags, ruling relations and the everyday: institutional ethnography insights on social movements”, Contemporary Social Science, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 49-62
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All Your Bass Are Belong To Us

 

This is one of my favourite remixes of all time. Why? Beyond the fact that it’s an Hip-Hop remix of a Dubstep song called Rock and Roll, the original track, which is comprised of numerous samples from various viral videos and songs, is remixed and mashed in with even more samples from pop culture. It’s not exactly related, just some posts need a soundtrack.

The dialogic nature of modern media means that, obviously, write follows read. Remix, rewrite, is unavoidable. As fans of a text, in this case a song, gain access to the building blocks of it they are able to re contextualise or remix a song in order to lend it a greater depth or enhance it’s longevity. With this, the control of the song quickly flees the original creators. In fact, once it is available for distribution and available for download by anyone, it becomes nigh impossible for anyone at all to control it. For all intents and purposes, a text, a piece of media, belongs to everyone and no one.

With this it is easy to conclude that the emerging remix culture is a product of the internet, when in reality the internet only acted as a catalyst and allowed the process to re-emerge and move faster than ever before. Culture and media had been remixed to varying degrees throughout history, from the Brothers Grimm to Mozart to Mario Cart. It has only been since the emergence of copyright laws that the remix has been frowned upon. With access at incredible speeds internationally through the internet, a large part of the population has had the ability for their culture to become participatory again.

When these two processes are viewed in tandem, it’s possible to theorise that the rise of remix culture is a return to a status quo. The return of culture to the public at large (through the internet) and the ability to mash, remash, mix, remix and publish being the way that humans interact and connect through common culture.

Sorry, got a touch philosophical.

 

References

  • Lessig, L. 2008, Remix: making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy, Bloomsbury, London. pp 23 – 31
  • Jenkins, H. 2008. “What Is Remix Culture?”: An Interview with Total Recut’s Owen Gallagher (Part Two), Confessions of an Aca-Fan, Posted 4/6/2008, Accessed 11/5/2014  http://henryjenkins.org/2008/06/interview_with_total_recuts_ow.html

 

 

This Is Not The Narrative You Are Looking For

Mods are generally separate to the offical games industry and, therefore, any IP involved; be it solely that of a video game or that of a trans-media narrative expressed in part by a commercial video game. That being, official endorsement of a mod by the creators and holders of tran-media narratives is rare, regardless of how detailed and congruous with the lore of a text that mod might be.

That doesn’t stop fans trying, though. Examples of mods that tie into or expand upon transmedia texts abound. For example, the mod Star Wars: Ascendancy (based on a game called Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion) is set in the star wars universe just prior to the battles on the ice planet hoth, which featured heavily in the 1980 Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back. The mod is incredibly detailed and beautifully reworked to depict the star wars universe, but lacks the official endorsement that would make the mod a permanent part of the Star Wars trans-media narrative. As one of it’s defining characteristics, Modding is non-commercial. The commercial powers that controll the Star Wars IP and narrative would not endorse a mod because it would be delivering it’s IP to another company (in this case the original developers/publishers of Sins of a Solar Empire).

Fighter Update: Cover All Angles

Stills from the upcoming ‘Star Wars: Ascendancy’ Mod

Making a completely seperate video game that ties into a trans-media narrative is wholly easier, cheaper and less legally confusing. Star Wars, to use the example again, is a text that has taken advantage of this perfectly. Beyond the branded games such as Star Wars: Battlefront, which for the most part lack narrative tie in, games like the proposed 1313 (now cancelled in the Disney aquisition of LucasArts) would feature a transnarrative backstory for one of the universes’ most famous characters, Boba Fet.

Video Games have an increasing and diversifying role in transmedia narratives (Paul,  2010), but Video Game Mods, due to their core principles as non-commercial and fan-produced , can never achieve the same role. Regardless of how well a mod works into or expands upon a trans-media narrative, it can never be apart of that narrative.

 

 

References

  • Schreier, J, 2014, ‘Before it was cancelled Star Wars 1313 was Going to Be about Boba Fet’, Kokatu Australia, published 5/4/14, viewed 7/5/2014
  •  Paul, J. 2010, “The path to transmedia”, Strategy,  pp. 32.

     

Bruns’ Four Key Characteristics of Produsage… with Zombies.

As modding became more popular and the internet more accessible, web based communities sprung up to support the production of mods and to distribute content. Each site and community became a ‘hive’ and a hub for production, consumption and prosumption of mod-based content.  Video Game modding perfectly correlates to Bruns’ “4 key characteristics of produsage” and, in my humble opinion, is one of the ultimate examples of such. On top of that, I get to talk about one of my favourite mods which perfectly serves as case study; DayZ.

In his 2007 paper, Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation, Bruns the four key characteristics of produsage, which are as follows.

“Organisational Shift”

This term is used to describe the “shift from dedicated individuals and teams as  producers to a broader-based, distributed  generation of content by a wide community of participants” (Bruns, 2007). Essentially, the transition from production/consumption to  prosuming on a wide scale. DayZ demonstrates this by being a mod, produced by a group of independent developers but based off the original ARMA 2 game. Going one step further, the “Organisational Shift’ shifts even further with modding communities creating mods of DayZ (mods of the mod). Check this list out for more info.

Fluid Movement”

This is used to describe the ease of individuals to switch between production and consumption, leading and following, as well as the ease with which data, skills and knowledge are exchanged by prosumers. Modding supports this by the diversification of user/producer roles and the constant play that produced by and necessary to mod. DayZ, is particular, facilitates this by being completely moddable and openly encouraging communities of modders.

“Unfinished”

For content to be unfinished implies it means that it is constantly being tweaked and edited by prosumers, by the ‘hive’. In regard to the DayZ case, scores of sub-mods have been produced from the vanilla (original) mod. From slight tweaks to the UI, hud or inventory systems to the the complete revamp of Dayz Origins”; an almost complete game that was built of ARMA II, DayZ and a DayZ modded map. Confused? Me too. It’s a sub-sub-mod, of sorts, and comes to exemplify the state of flux that mods are always in.

“Permissive”

In regard to modding original games, most developers are encouraging. The developers of ARMA II especially so (see previous posts) and the modder/developers of DayZ just as much. For developers that are pro-modding,  ss long as everything is kept non-commercial and credit is delivered where credit is due, modders are given almost free reign over content. This, more than anything, is what makes these networks as successful as they are.

References

– Bruns, A, 2007, “Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content
Creation”. Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Accessed frm http://eprints.qut.edu.au/6623/1/6623.pdf on 22/4/14

– Moore, C 2014, From Citizen Journalism to Collective Intelligence, ‘Prezi’ slides, BCM112, University of Wollongong, presented 8/4/2014, accessed 22/4/2014