Is this still participation? A case study of the disempowerment of player labourers

Prax Patrick
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Critical research into games and player labour has shown that player creators remain disempowered despite the impact of their work. On the other hand, player-creators enjoy their work, they freely and in an informed manner consent to working without pay, and they can use their unpaid labour as experience and CV-entries. This paper aims to critically discuss these arguments in the light of a specifically chosen case study. The analysis is informed by expert interviews of player creators and it uses Carpentier’s (2016) analytic framework for participatory processes. This analysis of the power relationship between player creators and game developer is elemental for the discussion around unpaid player labour. In this case the company has enough power to purposefully keep the involvement of players secret which supports the notion of exploitation of free labour. The discussion suggests possible ways forward and connects to the ongoing unionization movement in the industry.


Co-Creative Game Design in MMORPGs

Prax Patrick
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

This paper proposes a model for co-creation of games as alternative media. The model uses actual play practices to understand the political and cultural influence co-creation might have in the relationship between the owner of the game and the players. The model requires for player creation of a text or communication infrastructure that changes the properties of the game from which play emerges not only for the player herself but for a considerable group of players who share a particular practice of play. This change has to be accomplished not only by playing the game but through changing how others play it in a distinct creative activity. It needs to have the potential to subvert or contest the original design of the game. This model is useful for understanding different kinds of player co-creation as well as the extend of co-creative game design and can be a tool for political work towards participatory cultural production in games.


‘Can’t Stop The Signal?’ The Design of the Dutch Firefly LARP

Lamerichs Nicolle
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

In this paper, I analyze the design of a Dutch live-action role-playing game (LARP), based on the television series Firefly. I discuss it as part of the recent participatory culture in which fans mediate existing fiction into other products such as games. Game studies have often bypassed types of gaming that are initiated by players themselves by taking professional and digital games as their starting points. By focussing on a local example of a fan game, I hope to provide new insights in game design and play. After disseminating between fan and game practices, and sketching some of the previous research thereof, I shall elaborate upon the design of the game in four ways by focussing on the designer, the context, the participants and its construction of meaningful play. I argue that the fan LARP displays a particular design perspective based on the co-creative ethos of role-playing and fandom itself. Whereas existing research isolates the actors that are relevant in game practices, designer, player and fan modes clearly interrelate here.