The Futures of Entertainment conference was held at MIT over November 11-13 and several panels dealt with fan topics. Videos of conference panels are now available. One was of “Collaboration? Emerging Models for Audiences to Participate in Entertainment Decision-Making”. The panelists were Jamin Warren, whose interest is in video games, Seung Bak whose business streams international films, and C. Lee Harrington, a sociologist who has studied soap opera fans and is focusing on aging audiences.
- The panel began by discussing how fans are influencing corporate decision makers, starting with the case of the Hoover corporation to partner with soap fans to protest the cancellation of All My Children. They also touched on fan subbing communities, and how foreign content such as Korean dramas or telenovelas from Latin America have language barriers to their distribution. Bak said that 80% of his site’s content is subtitled through crowd sourcing. This led into a discussion of content creation tools being given to video game communities.
- There is more of a focus on international audiences for products that are flops in their home countries since they may become popular in other locations and to other audiences. Bak said that although 80% of his site’s content was Korean in origin, his audience of users is only around 30% Asian, with 15% being Hispanic, 15% African American and 30% Caucasian. Harrington mentioned that age may be a factor in content reception since older audiences do not generally see participation as part of their role as media consumers. Warren agreed, noting that games need to be marketed based on what people like to do with the games, rather than their demographics.
- Another topic broached was how credit is given to participants outside the business model. Warren cited Defense of the Ancients and the complications for games in how the copyright law applies to them, as well as their team-based authorship. There was then a discussion about fan-curation experts, and different paths for fans to follow, whether to professional work or simple play. Warren mentioned that professionals also need to be able to balance their creative work and their need to work for clients. The panel concluded by circling the issue of how valuable audience contributions can be solicited and rewarded.
- An example of solicitation and rewards to an audience can be seen in the Worldbuilder experiment announced by Angry Robot. “In January, when we publish…Empire State, we’ll be inviting fan creators everywhere to visit…and create their own works of art based in the Empire State universe. These creations can then be uploaded to a dedicated website, and distributed under a Creative Commons license. The best of these will be featured in a number of “Best of” anthologies (with most of the proceeds going to the creators).”
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