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Speaking of empirical things… Player-Authors Project Initial Results

For me, 2013 has been a pretty empirical year — my main project has been the Player-Authors project, which is an empirical investigation of online creativity, with a focus on creative participation in video games.  A recent Rutgers press release about the project is here. At this point, we are starting to collect and analyze the data from one of our surveys.  The survey was designed to ascertain player perceptions of user-generated content in games. While we are still finalizing the results, here are some of the initial findings:

  • We had over 400 valid responses
  • The survey participation skewed substantially male (over 80%)
  • The median age of respondents was roughly 30 years old
  • The PC was respondents’ most popular and preferred gaming platform
  • The Sims was respondents’ most played game among the available options
  • Respondents shared UGC on YouTube more often than on other listed platforms
  • The most common motivation of respondents for creating content was intrinsic pleasure (enjoyment of creativity) and the least common motivation was financial (to make money)
  • The most common UGC practice of respondents was making new objects within games
  • The least common UGC practice was costumes and crafts
  • Respondents generally favored the genre of action/arcade/adventure games the most — racing and sports games were the least popular
  • Roughly half of respondents stated that they had created “remix” UGC
  • The most common reference material for in-game “remix” UGC was “other video games”
  • The most common form of UGC creation among respondents was “maps/scenarios”; the least commons was “music/sound effects”
  • Minecraft was the most popular platform for UGC sharing among respondents; Second Life was the least popular.
  • The same was true for downloading: Minecraft was most the popular platform (among those listed) and Second Life was least popular.
  • Respondents had a range of opinions on the value of UGC.  Most respondents thought that creative tools and the ability to access player-created content were important to their enjoyment of games.  However, many players felt that UGC was not so important to their decision to purchase a particular game.

I’ll be talking about video games and interactivity at IPSC in New York next week — I may get a chance to say a little bit about this project.  One of the interesting questions about video games and copyright law is how their interactivity as a medium influences their status as protected works.  Bruce Boyden, Tyler Ochoa, and Dan Burk have all written about this, and I have some thoughts about it in my IPSC paper.  Obviously, when the game itself becomes an authorial tool, that ought to have some implications for copyright law.