game modding, intermediality and participatory culture

Hell, am I backward! And—concerning everything connected to ICTs—Scandinavia has its nose way up front, as usual. 2R just hinted me via e-mail—tnx a lot, man—to a paper by Olli Sotamaa:

SOTAMAA, OLLI. 2003. Computer game modding, intermediality and participatory culture [.pdf | 146KB]. Paper presented at the PhD course New Media? New Theories? New Methods? organised by: The Nordic network “Innovating Media and Communication Research”, 1-5 December 2003, The Sandbjerg Estate—Aarhus University Conference Centre.

Here are the last three paragraphs of the introduction:

My intention in this article is to analyze the forms and meanings of gamer-made designs and
especially mods, user-created modifications of popular game titles. In short, mods are gamermade
custom contents for official game titles. Today, popular mods can significantly extend the
life span of a game title and particularly successful works of mod community can make the jump
from mod to a retail title. Probably the most well known example of this is Counterstrike, a
team play modification for the game Half-Life (↵Valve Software, 1998). In many cases mods
introduce new features and perspectives that later find their way to official game titles. On the
other hand, the marketing of games like BioWare’s Neverwinter Nights (2002) already relies
heavily on gamer-created content.

One starting point is to treat mods as a form of community-based creative design and
contemplate their relation to other forms of gamer-based production. On the other hand mods
have become an integrated part of game development and marketing practices and therefore I
attempt at least briefly to grasp the corporate culture side view on mods. Close reading of some
particular examples of modder production helps to clarify their relation to “official” corporate
media texts. I also elaborate the question game modifications pose of the blurring boundaries
between gamers and game designers. Finally, I hope my article can produce some general
understanding, what mods are all about.

I believe that a detailed analysis of practices among gaming culture is able to uncover some
interesting questions related to general transitions in media environment. As Manovich (2002)
suggests, by acting as the avant-garde of the culture industry new media industries and cultures
can pioneer new types of authorship, new distribution models and new relationships between
producers and consumers.

And then there’s yet another great piece by him:

SOTAMAA, OLLI. 2005. “Have fun working with our product!”: Critical perspectives on computer game mod competitions [.doc | 73KB]. Proceedings of DiGRA 2005 Conference: Changing Views: World in Play (June 16th-20th). Vancouver: University of Vancouver. Abstract

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