Engaging with entertainment in the digital world | An introduction

Engaging with entertainment in the digital world | An introduction

A look at Consumer Culture. Let’s Play’s and Minecraft.

Technological development has created a media landscape that is in constant transition; contemporary platforms such as YouTube and Twitch have blurred the lines between producers and consumers, allowing for so-called “Prosumers”. This has lead to a ‘participatory culture’ saturated in ‘paratexts’ and centered around fandom subcultures. The aim of this essay is to explain this transition and to better understand how these concepts and changes have influenced the production and consumption of contemporary media. It will look at Minecraft (Mojang, 2011) and the ‘Let’s Play Phenomenon’, because of their recent success, to exemplify these changes.

Figure 1: Minecraft Official Logo

Minecraft is an open world sandbox game developed by Mojang and first released in 2011. The text offers users a procedurally generated open world to ‘mine’, ‘craft’ and adventure through. An analysis of this text will help in recognising how consumers appropriate the meanings of texts even if there is no absolute narrative encoded by the producers. With over one hundred million registered users and recently being bought by Microsoft for 2.5 billion dollars, this essay will also analyse why Minecraft itself appeals to such a wide audience. The game has continued to grow, forming a very active subculture and taking advantage of fan made paratexts on new media platforms such as YouTube. In 2014 ‘Minecraft’ was the second most searched term on YouTube, behind only ‘music’; In January 2015 it had more views than eighteen of the other top twenty popular gaming franchises (Newzoo, 2015). It has become a cultural phenomenon.

Figure 2. Youtube Gaming Logo.

YouTube, launched in 2005, has provided the tools for anyone to become a producer. The barriers to creating video content are lower than ever before and this has led to a platform with an incredibly diverse collection of videos that include anything from notorious cat videos to short films. ‘Petty producers’ have taken advantage of this to inspire and create their own work and this blog will analyse how they do this, how it’s been made possible by changes in the media landscape and what affect it’s had on these key texts.

Using the concepts of fandom and participatory culture to analyse this phenomenon, this essay blog will explore how the culture of consumption, and how the way in which we consume these texts has transitioned from the past. Furthermore, it will also explore how this has lead to the growing trend in the popularity of Let’s Play videos and the overall effect they have had on their parent texts and how these texts engage with audiences.

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Jamie De Vivo

(15 Posts)

I'm a digital producer and fourth year student at The Media School at Bournemouth University. Summarising myself is a difficult task, so I'll just leave it to the blog. But my posts will focus on everything from web and app development to behavioural science. Specifically you'll also find my views and advice on cameras, editing, business, culture, mentality, my adventures and my DIY projects. Enjoy.
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