Meaningful Play 2010

Designing for the Moral Economy of Co-Creation in GamesThis poster was created using Adobe In-Design and Photoshop.

Here is the abstract for my poster session at Meaningful Play 2010:

One of the discussions of games emerging from Cultural Studies corners centers on “co-creation,” or instances in which players within the game community take on roles of designing, developing, and testing game content. Players often receive little in return for their work, while also signing over any rights for much of the intellectual property they help create. One perspective situates co-creation as a system of unfair labor practices in which developers exploit players’ affinities and expertise with media experiences (Terranova, 2000 & 2004; Kuchlick, 2005). Others view co-creation as a “co-evolution” of “economic and cultural factors” situated in a “dynamic open relationship” that is “based on extrinsically-motivated exchange relations and culturally-shaped intrinsically-motivated production relations” (Banks & Potts, 2010, p. 260). Green and Jenkins (2009) inject the notion of a “moral economy” that assembles media corporations, content creators, audiences, and technologies into mutually constructed, if fragile, creative relationships that “require trust” (p. 218) amidst “the social expectations, emotional investments, and cultural transactions that create a shared understanding between all participants within an economic exchange” (p. 214).

Using actor-network theory as presented in Latour (1999), Law (1999), and Potts (2009), I propose a method for first tracing the co-creative networks assembled from the game developers, players, and technologies linked together in co- creative ecosystem surrounding Little Big Planet (Media Molecule, 2008). After mapping the network, I use the concepts of operations actions from activity theory (Kaptelinen and Nardi, 2006; Spinuzzi, 2008) to conceptualize methods of designing for the moral economy of Little Big Planet’s actor-network.