Week 2 Question: My research interests (Ben VG)

My research question:

Luker’s challenge is somewhat interesting because she doesn’t ask for a simple statement about what we want to research. If she just asked for a quick research question to get us to think about it, the task will be done in 2 minutes and then we would probably not think about it again. Instead, we are asked to spend 15 minutes on a topic, probably to suss out all of our hidden feelings and worries about what may come from that field.

My topic of research is fairly closely connected to my undergrad, where I studied English and Communication Studies at York University. During that time I grew increasingly interested in the subject of authorship, especially when it related to new media. How can you attribute authorship to a text when it is created in an online collaborative space like a hobbyist group, or a wiki? This problem becomes even trickier for texts like fan-fiction, where original copyright holders are clearly present in the equation, yet a new text has been developed as a derivative.

Online creative communities have always interested me because I could never seem to drum up the creativity or talent that other people on the Internet are able to muster. How can people just come together in a game like Minecraft and create the entire city of King’s Landing (from the HBO version of Game of Thrones) http://www.destructoid.com/king-s-landing-recreated-in-minecraft-243553.phtml

Videogames provide some interesting ways to look into this equation as the issue of ownership and authorship is being played out every day. Games that allow for, and in the case of online games rely on, user generated content must grapple with conflicts of ownership every day, and the results are not consistent. Modders of Valve’s Team Fortress 2 are being financially rewarded for their work with a built in system, while map makers in Little Big Planet are seeing their work unceremoniously removed if they stray too close to copyright.

So if I had the chance to research any topic without fear of the many spheres of influence, be they copyright law, author’s sentiments and industry standards (or even industry capabilities) I think I would most like to study how authorship functions in new media, particularly in a video game setting.

Also it would make playing Minecraft a valid act of research instead of procrastination.


Ben Van Gorp


1 Comment

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One response to “Week 2 Question: My research interests (Ben VG)

  1. Oh yeah, minecraft should be considered valid research. I once wrote a paper about aboriginal representation in Star Trek, which required me to watch *a lot* of Star Trek as “research.”

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