Dissertation Series: Introduction

An investigation into how audiences shape cultural objects,using social media to generate convergence andparticipate together in new ways







Why does it seem that it is necessary to have a Facebook or Twitter account, what exactly does social media really enable people to do, other than to ask your friends to go out tonight or to have embarrassing pictures of yourself made public. Social media in this context may appear trivial and at times pointless, but there is more to social media than simple status updates, and random bubbles of ‘followers’. Social media is increasingly used by businesses, community groups and even politicians to reach their potential voters and to promote themselves. In order to discover if social media is a powerful tool, we must first look at the relevant ideas and theories that attempt to explain how humans interact with the technology, and what the result of this interaction might be. In this dissertation I will explore how social media and the

people using it can transform and change cultural objects by converging and participating together, forming virtual communities. I will research how social media has changed the way communities and fan groups can communicate and how this interaction is affecting and shaping the way videogames are developed and merchandised.



Social media played a central role in the US Presidential election campaign of 2008, this role may provide some insight and answers for some of the aforementioned questions. There are several different key theoretical frameworks that are important as a means of examining the interaction between new (social) media technologies and human communities making use of it.  I acknowledge from the outset that a technological viewpoint alone would be inadequate for this research, as well as

human determinist outlook.  To uncover how people interact with technology, we look at how they shape and change each other through the process of interaction. To achieve these aims I will use case studies. I will look in detail at the election

campaign conducted by Barack Obama.  Secondly, the study will explore in detail the video game Team Fortress 2 (TF2) and how the relationship it has developed with its audience is very different to other videogames of the same videogame genre. The main focus of this study will be centered on social media elements and the important role they have played in each example. Currently the theorist with the most complete understanding of this field is Henry Jenkins. His work on participatory and convergence culture provides the best explanation of the trends currently being seen
in social media. Therefore, I acknowledge and draw on his theoretical framework throughout. This dissertation is organized in three chapters, a literature review, an exploration of participatory and convergence culture in society as seen by Jenkins. In the final chapter I explore this cultures and their effect on election campaigns and video games.



Dissertation Series: Chapter 1 The Audience Fights Back: An exploration of changing power relations between television viewers and media companies

Increasingly we can see how audiences are moving away from being merely consumers towards a position of empowerment. This new phenomenon is clearly influencing major media companies and the decisions they make in regard to television productions and copyrighted content. In a notable example, viewers actions led to the restart of production on the TV show Family Guy (1999, Fox). Family Guy was originated in 1999 by Seth McFarlane, but following poor viewing figures the show was cancelled in 2002. However, this was not the end of the story. Apart from television broadcasts there was a very high level of DVD sales of the series and equally significant large viewing numbers for repeat episodes of the show, this had

the effect of building a solid fan base and as a result Fox decided to renew Family Guy in 2004 (Kipnis and Levin, 2004) Significantly, large media corporations are willing to change decisions based on the actions of a group of fans of a specific programme or show. This change of fortunes for Family Guy, has led to further groups of fans converging together through the use of social media to launch campaigns to rescue seemingly unsuccessful shows from cancellation.




The best example of this kind of audience participation dates back to 1968 before the Internet when Star Trek fans petitioned NBC to ensure the continuation of the series (Kozinets, 2007). Star Trek fans in a similar way to subsequent fan communities such as Chuck fans in 2009, the Star Trek fan community organised a coordinated campaign to get the show renewed by sending letters to the production team at NBC. According to Kozinets, ‘the ensuing campaign was unprecedented. Star Trek fans, some accounts claim as many as a million of them, Wrote letters to NBC In 1968 begging them to give Star Trek another chance’ […] (Kozinets, 2007, p197).


1.1 Going where no Audience has gone before in Social Media

In 2009, fans of the sitcom series Chuck (2007, NBC)harnessed the power of social media in an attempt to get around the Nielsen rating system – used to rate the viewing figures for television programmess, if the numbers of viewership become low, fans may need to take action. Chuck required a campaign by fans to save the sitcom from cancellation due to bad viewing figures. As Henry Jenkins has noted in relation to Chuck, ‘Fans chose to demonstrate the potential economic value of audience engagement in a tangible way’ (Jenkins, 2013, p.122).


To get around the Nielsen Ratings system the fans of the show sent emails, Twitter messages and Facebook posts directly to the companies that had been advertising their products during the commercial breaks when the show was aired on NBC. By appealing directly to the companies that were advertising on the NBC network, Chuck fans were able to show that they were acutely aware of what was at stake for the advertising companies. The show was saved due to the collective effort and engagement of Chuck fans to participating and converging around a common goal of getting the series renewed in order to achieve their aim. Jenkins observes how the fans were savvy enough to show how their spending power, could influence television advertising, ‘they (Chuck Fans) targeted an individual sponsor, restaurant chain Subway, to demonstrate the value of their attention.’ (ibid)


1.2 Playbook for using New Mediums


The aforementioned example of viewer participation and networking clearly shows how people with a common interest or cause can find common ground and share expertise and skills for the benefit of the whole group. With the advent of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, it has become a lot easier for large groups of people to converge and form a networked community that actively participates together.  The evolution of this idea has manifested beyond the world of television audiences and entered mainstream society. It is possible to observe similar

collaborative processes at work during political campaigns; the most famous example is the US presidential campaign of 2008 (Harfoush, 2009, pp. 139-144).


The marketing and selling of ‘Brand Obama’ to the electorate there was done across social media site; songs and videos made for YouTube were all used to great effect during the Obama election campaign. The election showed how active members of

the US public were able to participate in debates with the candidates on YouTube and


Facebook. This campaign was a landmark change in how elections are conducted. The


2008 elections in Ireland followed the successful blueprint developed by Obama’s


team (Burgess and Green, 2009, p. 62- 70).



‘Participatory culture’ describes how empowered people can be more politically active in civic society. It can also have significant commercial impact on cultural objects and products. Cultural objects can also be changed by a community, the video game Team Fortress 2 (TF2) (Valve, 2007) is one such example. TF2 shows how cultural objects change and evolve due to the convergence and participation of a

group of players. Furthermore with TF2 the development has formed a new way of empowering the community from not only adding content to the game but also benefiting directly from the process, players can be more involved than ever before. Making use of Valve’s SteamWorks software users are able to create ‘in game objects’ this user generated content can tell be purchased in the game by other users. This demonstrates how participants have created, shaped and directed the

development of this game since its release. This idea has its roots in earlier theories of how media and the people who engage with it form a dialogue between the user and the technology.


1.3 Hot and Cold media Types: According to McLuhan


While participatory and convergence culture describe the new ways of how the social behavior of people has changed with the emergence of social media. The idea of humans and technology interacting with one another to shape change is not a new idea. For media theorist Marshall McLuhan technology was the driver of change. He famously insisted that:


The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology (McLuhan, 1967, p.7).


For McLuhan the medium is the most important element of any exchange between technology and the audience or person using it. The content that medium is transmitting in this idea is not as important as the medium itself, he argued that,

‘whether the light is being used for brain surgery or night baseball is a matter of


indifference.’ According to McLuhan’s hypothesis medium’s that consist of more


than one sensory relay are defined as being ‘cold’, for example, television may be considered multi-sensorial and therefore ‘cold’.  This is contrasted by McLuhan’s defining of film as being a ‘hot’ medium because it primarily uses one sensory relay – vision. However, McLuhan’s ideas are less applicable to modern inventions such as the PC or the Smartphone, largely because McLuhan’s theories emphasize technology over content. With the traditional design of the phone being simply about having a conversion over a distance it could be defined as being a hot medium because it

makes use of just one sense, a person’s sense of hearing. However, with newer and modern Smartphone designs enabling the user to multitask; utilizing more than one sense, this leads to the medium’s “message” being a lot harder to define.  McLuhan believed that technology alone was the sole driver of social change and development. By having a rather reductive view on media types McLuhan’s definitions force mediums into simple binary categories, even if these categories scale to form a spectrum of cold to hot. They do not account for the change that occurs in participatory video games such as TF2 (Valve, 2009). To gain a fuller understanding of content and the role the audience plays in the process of change it is important to use a broader theoretical framework.


Raymond Williams’ argument for human agency is in direct opposition to McLuhan’s ideas. Human agency positions society and not technology as the driving force behind social change and technological development. As Williams observes, ‘all technologies have been developed and improved to help with known human practices or foreseen and desired practices’ (Williams, 1974). Williams sought to show that with any given technology like television there are no guarantees that the technology on its own will have an impact on culture or society (Lister, 2009, pp. 77,78). Instead human agency focuses on the use of a technology and not just the technology itself, unlike

McLuhan’s technological determinism viewpoint. The logic in human agency is simple; a given technology alone has little cultural meaning until cultural meaning for technology evolves from the way society uses the said technology.  Williams believes that the agency of a human being is the primary force that opens up new possibilities for technical innovation, while McLuhan argues for the agency of the technology

itself (Lister, 2009, pp. 84,85)There are further differences in how human agency


and technological determinism affects the meaning of a ‘medium’. McLuhan views a


‘medium’ as being a technology or rather an object that carries human sensory inputs


to the person connected to it. Humans then interpret the messages the medium is carrying to their senses. A human agency advocate such as Williams uses the word

‘medium’ to describe a particular use of technology to complete a given task. As Lister observes, ‘it is often implicit for Williams that a medium is a particular use of a technology; a harnessing of a technology to an intention or purpose to communicate

or express.’ (Lister, 2009, p. 88).



1.4 Using the Force of Actor Network Theory


A dialogue of equal actors participating together to form social change is theorised by Bruno Latour and John Law, the authors of Actor Network Theory (ANT). ANT attempts to explain the interactions between human and non-human actors involved in creating and shaping new content and technologies.  The interaction between the two actors is viewed as being a form of network where the actors are seen as equals. One human actor and one technological non-human actor, each has an equal stake in the power over the other to influence the network, this is in contrast to the approach of

both Williams and McLuhani.Nick Couldry uses Bruno Latour to explain the actor


network viewpoint:


. . . to avoid the twin pitfalls of sociologism and technologism. We are never faced with objects or social relations, we are faced with chains which are associations of humans . . . and non-humans . . . No one has ever seen a social relation by itself . . . nor a technical relation. (Latour, 1991: 110) (Couldry, 2008, p. 2).




The process of networking interactions described by ANT shape the development of social and technological elements in a technology or object. The objects examined in this dissertation are both cultural and technological, for example, video games. Additionally social media platforms are also now driving it. This change maybe taking place in networks of actors act on objects where human and non-human actors as new relationships to materialize for the social and commercial for the users of the game. In the following chapter I will develop my argument further to demonstrate the power of online fan communities and ways in which they use social media to converge and participate together.



Dissertation Series: Chapter 2: The Power of Convergence in Fan Communities

Of all the theorists explored so far, none have provided a complete vision or explanation for how and why participatory and convergence culture has become so important in shaping society in the Internet age. For this reason the work of Henry Jenkins stands out as being by far the most complete body of work in the fields of both convergence and participatory culture. Jenkins has been working for twenty- years, writing and exploring convergence and participatory culture. With his first

book in Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture (Jenkins, 1992), Jenkins began looking at how fans congregate together to form communities with common interests and how fan communities influence the decision making of media companies.

Over time the issues the Star Trek fan community were concerned about have changed, subgroups of fans within the Star Trek fan community demanded that social issues be confronted. Mirroring the debates within society at large a group called

‘Gaylaxians’ wished to highlight the position of gay rights in the Star Trek TV series. The group felt having gay and lesbian characters included in Star Trek: The Next Generation (year and producer) would support character development. ‘Gaylaxians’ wanted the issue to be addressed by Star Trek because they saw other TV series at the time including openly homosexual characters for the first time, as Jenkins



We expected Star Trek to do it because we expected more of Star Trek than other series”, one fan explained. They (Star Trek Fans) found other series—LA Law, Heartbeat, Thirtysomething, Quantum Leap, Northern Exposure, Days of Our Lives, Roseanne—opening up new possibilities for homosexual characters on network television, while their program could only hint around the possibility that there might be some other forms of Viagra sexuality out there (Jenkins, 2006b, p. 95).



When the writers failed to live up to the expectations of the Gaylaxians, the group launched a campaign to have their views addressed. Once again an active and engaged audience was able to influence the stance of the creative team in charge of the series, changing their position. And by the fifth series of the next generation the Gaylaxians finally got what they were looking for, before the series started the studio issued a statement: ‘In the fifth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, viewers will see


more of shipboard life in some episodes, which will, among other things, include gay crewmembers in day-to-day circumstances’ (ibid, p.100). By coming together and acting as a united group fan communities are able to influence change for both niche interests and also the larger community. Due to its large popularity the Star Trek fan culture is able to influence decisions. The impact of Star Trek is difficult to overstate, in one notable example, the pressure exerted by fans of the series resulted in one of

NASA’s Space Shuttles being named after the iconic ship from the series Enterprise1


even US President Obama has on occasion greeted people with the Star Trek Vulcan hand gesture2. Star Trek has evolved into something far more than just a television series. For the show to gain this level of popularity and cultural significance requires it to have a very different relationship with the viewing audience over other more

typical shows of the time period. The series has evolved by not being fixed to just one media type or chained to the singular medium of television.  As Jenkins (Jenkins,

2006b) notes, the relationship between the audience and the content can undergo evolution if the content doesn’t have a fixed type. If the content can transcend one media type and become more fluid new possibilities emerge:


The relationship between readers, institutions, and texts is not fixed but fluid. That relationship changes over time, constantly shifting in relation to the ever-changing balance of power between these competing forces (Jenkins, 2006b, p. 112).


If seemingly specific and singular media is able spread across different platforms, how does this influence translate for audiences?



2.1 Demands of modern Audiences


As new technologies and media resources have emerged, the delivery of media content on offer has become faster and more convenient. These new delivery systems give consumers new ways to watch, listen and read content over the Internet.  Jenkins raises an important point about easy access to lots of different types of media on the internet, through services like Netflix and Spotify. This trend of centralizing disparate

media is an emerging phenomenon as Jenkins observes, ‘economic trends favoring the


1 For further information visit

[Accessed 02/04/2013]

2 For a detailed account of President Obama’s ‘Vulcan’ hand gesture visit: [Accessed 02/04/2013] [Accessed 02/04/2013]


horizontally integrated media conglomerates encourage the flow of images, ideas, and narratives across multiple media channels’ (Jenkins, 2006b, p. 136).


Despite these new, easier ways to access the content, this has not stopped large media conglomerates from centralizing copyrighted content. Television networks, music labels, Book publishers, Print based news media, film studios and videogames publishing companies and developers, are all becoming centralized. According to (Chalaby, 2000) the mainstream American TV Networks have become heavily influenced by large entertainment company takeovers such as those by Disney and Time Warner. An interesting twist however, is the main delivery system for the media companies that have also empowered fans to start networking together on a greater level than ever before. On the Internet, fans can network to create what Pierre Levy calls ‘collective intelligence’, as Jenkins emphasizes:

As citizens more fully realize the potentials of the new media environment. Rejecting technological or economic determinism, Levy sees contemporary society as caught in a transitional moment, the outcome of which is still unknown, but which has enormous potentials for transforming existing structures of knowledge and power (Jenkins, 2006b, p. 136).


This transitional moment come at a time when the Internet was becoming more powerful, due to the deployment of broadband and high-speed networks. While fan communities were already generating collaborative networks for sharing information, opinions and ideas, the internet has opened niche groups to new frontiers that were until this point limited by physical barriers. Japanese Anime is one example of an active and fan base convergence, participating together online, to create a large fan community, this type of expansion and increased cultural visibility is driven by the Internet, Jenkins has argued that, ‘Japanese fans collaborate with American

consumers to ensure the underground circulation of these cultural products and to


explain cultural references, genre traditions, and production histories’ (ibid, p. 141).




This exchange of information opens up new opportunities for learning new language skills and helps new members gain a better understanding of the wider world of Anime. Anime fans driven by the desire to understand the original content coming from Japanii. As the fan communities move and converge on the Internet, new social patterns become possible. Instead of being limited to being with friends and neighbors in the physical world, fan communities can network with other like-minded


individuals with far greater scope and speed compared to anything the real world has to offer. Furthermore, when fans from across many different backgrounds come together, these fans start participating together to shape and create content for the community they become part of: ‘Now, fans may interact daily, if not hourly, online. Geographically isolated fans can feel much more connected to the fan community and home-ridden fans enjoy a new level of acceptance’ (Jenkins, 2006b, p. 142).

As fan communities expand and grow by making use of the tools available to them online, legal issues may start to limit their creative potential. The issue of copyright being a primary example of these conflicts caused by having active fans creating content about the culture of the television shows and films they watch. Media companies then are faced with a difficult choice in deciding how to address this issue. On the one hand there is the commercial element that wishes to ensure no money is being made from fan activities. Conflicting with this is the desire to allow the audience to remain engaged and active with the content, this helps prolong the lifespan of films, books, comics and videogames and increases the awareness of the content in the public domain, at little cost to the media company. One company that has been praised for its stance on copyright is videogames developer and publisher Valve. Valve has made changes to their video game TF2 to encourage players and fans of the game to contribute to the game directly. Valve provided the tools for the

community to contribute user-generated content into Mann Co.iii an in-game store to


expand on the original content that the game first included. Moore observes the significance of this:

Games developers have typically resisted such individualization, limiting players to preconfigured uniforms in order to maximize standardization in the highly competitive gaming environment. The addition of hats in TF2 has attracted new players, reinvigorated veterans and invited significant contribution in the form of user-generated content (Moore, 2011, p. 1-14).


Results of this convergence of crossover and hybrid cultures forming, occurs as individual fans move between different fan communities and bring their opinions. These views and creative vision to shape new outcomes for content generation in new groups. Content creation may not be limited to just one media type, fans may use different social media platforms to play, create and share content they’ve created with different nationalities and interest groups.


2.2 New ways to Share on the Internet


Sharing content online has led to the development of websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media websites have in turn become platforms on which fans share content, and by making use of social media fan communities, gain new opportunities to attract members and become more mainstream as Hanna Rohm Crittenden has



Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, SCVNGR, YouTube, and numerous others have begun to revolutionize the state of marketing, advertising, and promotions. These social media have transformed the Internet from a platform for information, to a platform for influence (Crittenden, 2011 p. 265-273).


As powerful as Facebook and Twitter are, they are only as useful as information that is being distributed through them. Fan communities now use picture sharing websites like Instagram or Pinterest to share images. Then there is the video focused social media sites such as Viddy, and blogging social media sites such as Tumblr. Each of these smaller networks is not like Facebook and Twitter, the networks are more focused on niche groups, to achieve this the social networks use their own unique design or theme. Instagram for example uses customised photographic filters to style images taken with Smartphone cameras which encourages a wider populist community, this point is further emphasized by Jenkins, he writes:


As social media has facilitated audience behaviours that were once considered niche or fringe to become commonplace and mainstream, innovative producers (such as Kim Moses) and marketers (such as Campfire) have established new relationships with their audiences using practices that were once only considered for the fans of cult media (Jenkins, 2013 p. 148).


If we define media content as being spreadable as Jenkins sees it, then itis the speed at which content is shared and moved across social media platforms over short periods

of time that has enabled the objects to gain popularity and become viral. On YouTube recently there are threads to support this idea, phenomenon’s like PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ and most recently Baauer’s‘Harlem Shake’ have amassed very large following in a very short period of time. At the time of writing, the number of people who have seen Gangnam Style stands at 1,471,630,742, iv while the Harlem Shake has


Social media and the Internet has also increased the speed at which media content becomes something more meaningful than circulation or viewing figures alone, and some cases, part of modern western culture itself. The best example of this transition is disucussed in chapter one is Star Trek, it is now so ingrained within western culture that everyone from US presidents to space agencies have been influenced by the

series in some way, shape or form. Star Trek is a good example of how a television series can become a cultural object due to human and technological interaction occurring over a period of time. TF2 may not be as large as Star Trek in terms of popularity, but within the community generated by the game it has still inspired counterculture videos on YouTube, and also soundboards based on the characters, participatory and convergence culture has as I have discussed led to the fans directly contributing in the videogame itself. This then asks a question of what we might define as being a meaningful level of audience engagement with content, what makes it worthwhile for media companies to create and produce new TV shows and movies? In the Internet age, can traditional TV production companies still make use of the Nielsen rankings system as a reliable guide to audience engagement with the content they produce, and is this type of audience engagement evaluation still relevant? Moreover official ratings systems cannot account for unofficial viewing practices

such as Torrent users, this point is not lost on Jenkins:


If all these viewers [torrent users and Nielsen viewers] were counted equally, some cancelled or soon-to-be-cancelled series would become television-network hits. Heroes, for example, had 6,580,000 illegal downloads for a single episode, as compared to 5,900,000 legal viewers (the Nielsen number the show was hovering around at that time). Meanwhile, a hit such as Lost had 6,310,000 illegal views per episode, in addition to its 11,050,000 legal viewers (Jenkins, 2013 p. 113).


(Jenkins, 2006a, p. 94) explores the trans-media world of Matrix films (1999-2003) how, from franchise of films, led a variety of different new media types have been createdvi. With the new possibilities provided by new interactive technologies such as connected televisions and modern Smart-phones. The participation of consumers using these devices is a key component in convergence culture:

Allowing consumers to interact with media under controlled circumstances is one thing; allowing them to participate in the production and distribution of cultural

goods on their own terms and something else altogether (Jenkins, 2006a, p. 131 -169)


If we are to describe this idea using the terms used in Actor Network Theory, it is possible to see the presence of a human and nonhuman actor. Convergence culture is not limited to just cultural objects. The effects of convergence is also felt in the


political arena where candidates standing for election now use the web to raise campaign funds and spread political awareness in the community. During the 2008 election, Barack Obama used social media to great effect. Television networks also used social media outlets such as YouTube to directly engage with the candidates. The very first interactive video debates were held in this campaign. They were so successful that they have been the blueprint for similar campaigns seen in the Irish elections of 2010 and again US presidential elections of 2012. By providing interactive tools to allow the American electorate to participate with the candidates a greater level of audience engagement has been achieved than previously possible.


Depending on the nature and the need of the fan community, each member of a community produces content based on a certain consensus. This allows marginalized groups in society to alter the media content to their needs, which can also be seen as a form of empowerment. But fans exert pressure on media to change, finding new ways to mediate between the original content and their own interpretation of what the content should be. The gap in between these two provides a space for imagination and creativity to grow and prosper.


As previously discussed this is demonstrated best by increasing fan made productions of content due to new media technologies opening up the boundaries between content producers, distributors, and users and fan communities. Jenkins makes it clear that the production of media content is undergoing a moment of revolution. This has always been contended, but it is only visible now that the Internet has allowed fan communities to become more mainstream in popular culture. Jenkins makes it very clear that it is all about meaning, the interaction with any form of medium, especially when it is for entertainment purposes.

To understand the effects on a particular medium, Jenkins argues that we should focus on the side where meaning is produced, and what audience participation does to change the medium. In Chapter three, I will explore this by looking at the video game (TF2) and how it has changed over time by the audience (players) taking part in the creative process of making content for the game.




Dissertation Series: Chapter 3: Participation and Shaping Change in Politics and Cultural Objects

3.1 Methodology


The methodology that was chosen to explore the ways audiences influence change through the use of social media, is a case study. The case studies consist of a more general study of how social media can be powerful tool in a political election campaign, and also a study of the level of change that can occur over time as an audience converges and participates collectively in the video game Team Fortress

(TF2). To better understand the process of interaction taking place, a qualitative analysis of both case studies was undertaken. The strengths of this approach lie in its ability to deconstruct the underlying processes and identify the role of the convergence and participation cultures in how people used social media of influence change in two very different environments.  As Flyvbjerg (Flyvbjerg, 2004) in David Silverman’s Interpreting Quantitative Data notes:



For researchers, the closeness of the case study to real-life situations …is important or the development of a nuanced view of reality, including the view of human behavior cannot be meaningfully understood as simply the rule-governed acts

found at the lowest levels of the learning process. [..] (Silverman, 2011, p. 386-387).



This means when undertaking to evaluate such an historically important moment as the election of Barack Obama, and also given the large amount of existing work already available in the area, it was important to have a very narrow focus when conducting the research. The central focus of this case study was on the way people converged together through the use of social media during the election campaign, and how Obama encouraged people to participate by using social media. The second case study is analysis of the way an audience participates together and the mechanics of this interaction between the human and the non-human actors. Actor Network Theory (ANT) was the theoretical framework used for this more in-depth look at audience participation and convergence around a cultural object. Using (ANT) this case study looked at, how the players are an important element of guiding the direction of how video games are developed when the player involved in the development process. (ANT)’s ideas of human and non-human actors interaction was examined in the way users contributed their own content to improve upon the original game for the benefit


of all the players. By doing this, the case study was able to provide an insight into


how the shaping of the video game (TF2) utilized the convergence and particpation of individuals to form a community of active contributers.







3.2 Case Study 1: President Obama’s use of social media to engage and mobilise potential voters.



The election campaign of 2008 was a landmark election for the United States, not only did it signify the election of the first Black President in American history, the

2008 election campaign was also the first election to instrumentalise campaigning using social media. Candidates used Facebook and Twitter to send updates to their supporters and television network CNN used YouTube to conduct debates between rival candidates. Barack Obama was a pioneer of using social media websites to engage, motivate and encourage voters from across America to participate in the election campaign. Information sharing through Facebook and Twitter combined with popular culture remixes of his campaign slogan really helped the Obama campaign to victory. The campaign also inspired online communities to create user generated music videos about Obama and his election slogan, Yes We Can. 2008 saw new ways for people to converge and participate in a political election compared to previous elections.


3.2.1 Change you can believe in


While introducing his article ‘The logic of media convergence’ Henry Jenkins demonstrates the existence of contradictory trends taking place in the American media market:


The American media environment is now being shaped by two seemingly contradictory trends: on the one hand, new media technologies have lowered production and distribution costs, expanded the range of available delivery channels and enabled consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate media content in powerful new ways; on the other hand, there has been an alarming concentration of the ownership of mainstream

commercial media, with a small handful of multinational media conglomerates dominating all sectors of the entertainment industry (Jenkins, 2004 p. 33-34).


As new ways to share information on the Internet became available to the public, users began to experience media content in more powerful and dynamic new ways. Jenkins points out despite these new ways of accessing media. Political debates in the years running up to the 2008 election remained constrained, due to the concentration of media ownership and the lack of an alternative to these organizations.

Shanto Iyengar and Donald Kinder note the affects this trend can have on the electorate:

If the only story is the campaign, then practically all voters, no matter how involved they maybe with other matters, will know who is ahead and who is behind. Such relentless promotion of a single view of the campaign reduces the electorate’s capacity to choose wisely (Iyengar & Kinder, 2010 p. 129).


By having all the content ownership centralized to a small number of very powerful large companies the market loses competition, and thus lowering the diversity of news coverage.  As it did, then social media began to offer new sources of analysis and places for politicians to network with the electorate.  Before 2008, there had only been a limited number of blogging sites and forums to facilitate this functionality. Social media companies like Facebook in 2004, and Twitter in 2006 creating new ways to share information. Rich media website publications also started to become popular at this time, two prominent examples include; the Salon and the Huffington Post. Jenkins notes that potential influence the early days of social media:

Furthermore, early signs are that blogging may play a decisive role in shaping the

2004 American presidential elections, having been identified as a key factor in propelling maverick candidate Howard Dean into the front ranks for the Democratic

Party nomination (Jenkins, 2004 p. 36).


During the previous election seasons of 2006 and 2008 the new technologies were not large enough to enabled individuals to participate in media rich online communities like they did in 2008. But this changed with Web 2.0, social media become more powerful in a way that enabled young voters to become politically cognitive and

aware of social issues. These younger voters shared their beliefs and political opinions faster and more effectively than the traditional news media on the new emerging

online space that Web 2.0 provided, Matthew Kushin and Masahiro Yamamoto noted the role of these new online tools played in young voters networking together (Kushin

& Yamamoto, 2010 p.609):




The growth of online political behaviour has been facilitated partly by the recent emergence of new interactive, media-rich Web sites. These Web sites, often referred to as social media, exist under the conceptual umbrella of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 Internet networks are valued in proportion to their capacity to harness the participation of online communities in the production, amalgamation, and exchange of information (Kushin & Yamamoto, 2010 p.612).


3.2.2 New Media Campaign Tools

When the young voters made use of social media platforms to not only find

information, but also share this information with their peers on the internet, this helped the voters express political attitudes and interact with candidates’ campaigns directly. Kushin and Yamamoto use the ideas of Danah Boyd of ‘social software’ to explain the way this interaction online affected the young voter political awareness on social media:


Social software is about the collective and is organized around

human interaction (boyd, 2007). For example, Facebook users could express themselves politically in various ways such as by making online donations,

encouraging their friends to vote, and posting graphics or status updates

expressing political attitudes and opinions (Kushin & Yamamoto, 2010 p.613).



This trend of interaction was then expended when the news media itself made use of the social media website YouTube to allow users the chance to interact with the candidates in the primary debates for both the Republican and Democratic parties. Users would record a question on an issue that was important to them. From which user submitted videos were chosen to be aired live on the debating floor during a broadcast on CNN. Since 2008, YouTube has also conducted similar debate sessions in Ireland for the Irish general and Presidential elections in partnership with Irish broadcaster RTE in 2011. Kushin and Yamamoto observe this new form of




YouTube and CNN teamed up to sponsor a debate in which candidates took questions from user-created video as opposed to a moderator, further encouraging the emergent phenomenon of user-generated political video expressions (ibid).


This new form of interaction demonstrates the new opportunities social media can provide, from having debates to both online communities participating in a live broadcast. The relationship between media and the political process has now changed; candidates standing for election are now expected to be instantly accessible on Twitter and Facebook.  Social media requires them to engage in new forms of debates, while also being prepared for instantaneous reaction to the slightest misguided comment or


finding of old controversial views. Perhaps the best example of how this can go wrong is Sean Gallagher during Irish presidential election in 2011. In the run-up to the final weeks of the Irish presidential election Gallagher had a strong lead over the other candidates, however, after allegations were made about Gallagher collecting money on behalf of a political party that he had failed to mention earlier, Gallagher’s campaign collapsed. The speed at which information traveled thanks to social media

can be potentially disastrous for parliamentary candidates running for election. Unlike Sean Gallagher, Barack Obama used social media in a much more effective way when he was running for election.


The Obama campaign was spread across multiple platforms including Facebook and Twitter and YouTube, including using prominent celebrities as endorsements of his campaign with the slogan of ‘yes we can’. Converging on social media the supporters were able to connect together and coordinate the campaign at the grassroots

level. This convergence of ‘E- participation’ was managed centrally by the Obama campaign on their campaign website. Aysu Kes-Erkul and Erdem Erkul, highlight the way this participation was organized using the internet:

On, the main tool for interaction between users is the blog page. Visitors can join this blog page and post their comments by creating a user account, which is a very common, user-friendly application […] During the presidential campaign, the website content was focused on the concept of change, whereas the most popular blog discussions were about the development of the campaign and the activities (Kes-Erkul & Erkul, 2009 p. 11-14)


Volunteering and organization of the network of campaign volunteers was also carried out from the campaign’s website. Ordinary citizens were encouraged to register to vote, information on blog sub pages allowed people to participate and create content for the campaign.3 With news and updates of the various different activities that were taking place simultaneously in the country. The campaign developed a ‘MyBO’ section on the website to incentivise the public to become

involved as highlighted by Lorien Abroms and Craig Lefebvre:












3Obama Campaign Site can be accessed here: [Accessed 03/04/2012]


This password-protected section allowed people interested in being part of the campaign to register and then be part of a private community of supporters. In the MyBO community, supporters could communicate with fellow supporters, plan events using event-planning tools, fundraise with goal-setting tools, and blog about their feelings, both positive and negative, about the candidate and the campaign (Abroms & Lefebvre, 2009 p. 416).


As Obama actively canvassed people across the internet through social media, some of his supporters used social media to create their own content. This content was in the form of websites, blog posts and music videos made about the Obama campaign. The supporters young and old participated together to form cultural objects themed about the candidate and the slogan of the campaign. User generated content appeared on FacebookTwitter and YouTube, it was through YouTube that some of the most prominent user-generated videos and their creators found fame for themselves due to the remixes and music videos that they made. Abroms and Lefebvre observe how popular some of the user content became:


Obama Girl’s ‘‘I got a crush . . . on Obama,’’ which received more than 12 million views (barelypolitical, 2007) and’s ‘‘Yes we can’’ music video which received over 14 million views (WeCan08, 2008)” (ibid, p. 419)






3.2.3 Politics in a New Age of Social Media


By making use of social media the Obama campaign was able to bring people together to converge and participate in the election process. Combined with a very strong sense of political urgency, people participating in the Obama campaign felt indirectly connected together due to the power of social media. Social media made people converge from different backgrounds and different walks of life to unite around one goal and one objective. This meant the Obama campaign influenced how people interacted with it, The campaign was also shaped by the involvement of ordinary people on the ground. Whether it was raising money or creating awareness about the Obama campaign, Obama’s 2008 campaign stands out for the way in which it used social media to achieve its aims.

These developments indicate that in the emerging era of public communications, tradional media consumption may not be prominent position in the public sphere as in the past. In addition, the discourse taking place online is changing how we engage with media texts. Most of these transformations are driven by the public use of new media platforms and tools. Media Conglomerates should be aware of these implications and weigh their options. More than ever, they need to look at their content, and find new ways to make it easier to access. This will allow for greater diversity and independence in content being brought to the masses.




3.3 Case Study 2: How does the convergence of like-minded communities inform and shape cultural objects




Every human interaction with technology is based on the communication between the actors involved. This process shapes the development of social and technological elements in a cultural object or piece of technology such as a video game, mobile device or social media platform. This idea of networked actors and the agency they have to act on objects was first explored by Bruno Latour. In this dissertation I aim to show that video games like Team Fortress 2 demonstrate this kind of social conversion and dialogue between various actors involved. I examine the conditions that allow or deny these relationships to materialize, and suggest that they have

simultaneously social and commercial benefits for the users of the game as well as the developer.


3.3.1 Acting together to build the Team


In this case study of the popular video game called Team Fortress 2 (TF2) (Valve,


2007), I will explore and examine the relationships that a community of players has with this particular video game. TF2 has undergone a large number of changes since it was originally designed in 2007, using the theoretical framework of Actor Network theory (ANT) first theorized by Bruno Latour. An analysis of the player/game relationship will be conducted to investigate the development of the video game and the community of players. The primary objective in the game is for both teams, is to kill enemy players. In this respect TF2 is not very different from many other contemporary games in the genre. However what makes TF2 different is the history of

how it was created compared to games like Call of Duty.vii



TF2 is a team-based online multiplayer game; the game has its own quirky styleviii. Over the years since its launch in 2007, TF2 has received new content. New content ranges from new weapons to character clothing, to maps and additional game modes. New functionality and user generated content has also been added to the original game through a series of updates. According to the official ‘Wiki’ website that


provides information on the game1, there have been to date: 354 patches released4. This level of developer support is very unique in the video games industry.


3.3.2 Players contributing to the Game


In this model the player has the potential to become more than a passive consumer, s/he can become empowered as active developers and users, part of something much larger than a community. When a larger community becomes active in the contribution of user-generated content it is possible for the wider collective to shape

and improve upon the original game for the benefit of all the interest groups involved. This community shaping of the video game TF2 through user contributions can be described as being a type of conversation that is an ongoing dialogue between human and nonhuman actors’ that collaborate together to form a network. This idea is noted by Mark Cypher (Cypher, 2006) in his work on how actor network theory shapes the way human and technological actors form ‘collective agencies’ that are dependent on one another in order for technology and the society using it to grow and develop. According to Bruno Latour:


The human-technology relation as a heterogeneous network of human and non humans(technologies/machines/materials) that work together to make things possible that neither could achieve without the other (Latour, 1994 p.).



By analyzing the way the player interacts with the game in the context of shaping the development of TF2, I will examine four different areas that illustrate how this

process happens. Firstly the game exploits its unique art style and game-play to attract players into playing it. Secondly, a dialogue between actors shaping the game, as the players start becoming more engaged in the process of creating their own content that is subsequently added to the game. This shows the social shaping element of the human actors and their contribution to the shaping of the technology as described by Actor Network Theory. The third stage looks at how this new content from the community was created, developed and built on the game’s preexisting content. This process has resulted in the evolution of TF2 over the course of its life since its launch; I will explore the methods that the games developer uses to add the content into the game and how this is a different model when a community mods a game to their own

enjoyment. The final aspect that will be looked at is the commercialization of the



4 More information on TF2 can be found here: [Accessed: 03/04/2013]


game and how this has changed over the course of the games life cycle due to the affects of players social shaping influence on TF2, A new kind of commercial relationship between users and the developer has begun thanks to the game makers use of a micro transaction model which has become popular in video games such as Farmville (Zynga, 2009).



The first component in creating the dialogue between the human and technological actors is to create a video game experience that will evoke and motivate individuals to feel emotionally invested in the game play experience and to create what Christopher Moore calls an ‘affective tone’ whereby, ‘a game encompasses the methods the designers implement in their games to evoke emotional responses from the player’ (Moore, 2011 pp. 1-14).


What Moore is referring to is the connection and emotional feeling the human actor gets when interacting with the game, and other players in the TF2’s virtual environment. This attention to creating an immersive experience most readily manifests itself in how TF2’s characters and multiplayer area maps are designed and animated in order for it to appeal to potential players. Moore (2011) observes this element of the game’s design in how the two competing teams are styled and presented to the player:



The RED team’s base locations are rendered in warm red, orange and brown tones. The buildings are exaggerated and idyllic examples of farmhouses and warehouses and other fixtures of rural America of the mid twentieth century. BLU bases tend towards cooler colours, the blues and greys of industrial materials, with flat roofs and angular building designs (Moore, 2011 pp. 1-14).



Coupled with this is atmospheric art design is the game play that features different classes that work together and force individuals to operate as a team, helping the video game developers make TF2 an immersive experience that compels players to keep playing long after games that were released in the same time period have fallen out of popularity.




3.3.3 Mann vs Machine: player involvement in content creation


Once the player feels invested in the product and the game has managed to attract a


large community around itself, it is possible to observe how the community has shaped the development and design of TF2 as it has been updated with added new game-play elements, modes and content. The largest element of the game to have changed since its release relates to how new content is created. Where once it was only the game’s developer who were driving the content for the game, since 2010

players now have the Steam Workshop(Valve, 2010) toolkit to create and add


content such as new items and weapons to the game. This additional user generated material is networked interaction between the players and the game, supports actor network theory where the dialogue between social actors is central to the development of both the human game-play experience and the development of the game. The

toolkit is extends the human user and his or her actions in much the same way as Latour (1994) described how a central component of a game such as a weapon (gun) forms a network with a human actor when the human is welding the gun. Further elaborated by Cypher:



If I define you by what you have (the gun), and by the series of associations that you enter into when you use what you have (when you fire the gun), then you are modified by the gun – more or less so, depending on the weight of the other associations that you carry […] (Cypher, 2006).



By making the users part of the development process, the next step in the


development of the game is to begin adding the user-generated content into the game. The addition of content is then determined by the community. This model is very different to the way a community of ‘modders’ will act, because it is mediated

through the developer, Valve. The ‘modders’ add new content to the game as it


develops into a finished and fully realized piece of software. According to Scacchi


(2010) modders are:














5 Further details on the Steam Workshop can be found at

[accessed 02/04/2013]


Increasingly becoming a part of mainstream technology development culture and practice. Modders are players of the games they construct, just like FOSS developers are users of the systems they develop. There is no systematic distinction between developers and users in these communities

(Scacchi, 2010 p.)


While this process of modding was used in the creation of the first Team Fortress game, the process can have its own problems. One of the common issues and main negative side effects of having so many different actors working on the same source code comes when people have conflicting ideas of how the overall mod should function and progress. Such conflicts may then lead to the mods’ development becoming stagnated as people work against one another on competing ideas. One way of getting around this issue is by having a clear central actor that is in command of the overall direction in which the development is headed. Valve performs this role in TF2 development because it takes control how the new content is added to the game. The updates for TF2 add new content in two different ways, I will now examine what impact this has on how the games has evolved over the course of time with the interaction between the human and non-human actors.



3.3.4 What makes TF2 different


The first way that content is added to the game is through software updates, these updates have included, ‘additional changes to the character classes, new items, hats and achievements’ Moore (2011) these smaller updates are more common and are best described as performance tweaks to the game rather than wholesale changes to the core architecture of the game. However, the major updates that are released contain more content. Major updates are accompanied by additional sources of information about the new features and changes that are to be included in the upcoming new release. This form of advertising and creation of hype is noted by



Transmedic elements including websites, comics, and cryptic blog posts that are all designed to expand the affective bonds between the publisher, game and the consuming players (Moore, 2011 pp. 1-14).



As TF2 has changed in line with updates and additional new game modes such as the zombie-robot survival mode within the ‘Mann vs Machine’ update. Importantly, the game-play experience is also changed; the agency of the actors becomes augmented through the way the players evolve into users of a platform for different experiences


available within the same video game. In TF2 the survival mode is one option of many options available within the game-play, whereas with other video games in the FPS genre the game-play experience of the player is much more consolidated. With the variation of the experience being achieved through different difficulty levels. In the case of TF2 there are very different game-play options. These include game-play types such as the aforementioned survival mode to capture control points to original game-play type of the traditional team death match. Actor network theory accounts

for how participants of the game have been a major factor in the development process of these new possibilities. Mark Cypher notes this impact of the audience by discussing the work of Don Ihde (Ihde, 1991) who researched how the actors interface together:



Even for a situation seemingly as simple as acquiring and holding a gun, the relations and possible implications become much more complex when the collective is taken into

account (Cypher, 2006).


This makes the case for a large amount of relationships to be taken into account, when associating technological devices and the tasks they perform with the human actor.



Another method of making user generated content available to players in the game is through the Mann Co. store, integrated into the game. This store is an area of the game that allows players to find new character apparel and weapons. Users are then encouraged to purchase new weapons and items in the Mann Co. store for real currency. It is this new element of commercialization that has enabled Valve to offer

TF2 as a free to play game (FTP). This means that the player doesn’t have to purchase


a license i.e. a DVD copy of the game in order to start playing.




Micro-transactions6 allow players to unlock content through making in-game purchases of items and weapons that the player wishes to use. By making a one off payment the player can avoid the large number of hours of game-play that are normally be required to obtain a specific item. The development of micro transactions changes the way the game generates revenue for the developer, but also it opens the

opportunity for the community members themselves to become involved in making



6 Further details on Micro Transactions mentioned above: [Accessed 2/04/2012]


money from the game through this micro transaction process. The benefits of this new marketing system were first used with major success in the arcade game Farmville (Zynga, 2009) the success of this marketing strategy and benefits of micro

transactions in Farmville is noted by Liszkiewicz in (Moore, 2011):




Of course, people can sidestep the harvesting process entirely by spending real money to purchase in-game items. This is the major source of revenue for Zynga, the company that produces Farmville. Zynga is currently on pace to make over three hundred million dollars in revenue this year, largely off of in-game micro-

transactions (Moore, 2011 pp. 1-14).


This chapter has shown that the relationship between video games and their players is a dynamic one were the human and non-human actors involved both shape the video game. This process has been shown on multiple levels to conform to the ideas and theories developed by Latour and Jenkins, i.e. the actors forming a network that ultimately shapes and forces change upon the technology. The end result of this process its that the game has changed into a platform that enables the users to not only add new content to the game but also the participate in the generation of revenue and sharing of the profit of these new micro transactions that take place. Through all of

this development the developer and the community have been able to greatly increase the life expectancy of the game when comparing to other games in the genre that have since been either replaced or stopped in their development.  What I am arguing for is that video games can become cultural objects by encouraging direct participation

from its invested community and allowing convergence and participatory cultural practices to emerge from the interaction of the actors present in this technology.




Dissertation Series: Conclusion

This dissertation has given an account of emerging trends and how the use of participatory and convergence culture are shaping cultural objects and changing cultural practices. I have argued that the combination of social media technologies, human interaction and resulting cultural interaction has resulted in cultural objects gaining popularity. The central discussion that convergence and participatory culture is not only shaping videogames but is also affecting how election campaigns are

conducted. This study set out to determine whether social media was the driving force behind these two cultures and to what extent it is involved in empowering these cultures to effect change in modern society. I have shown that Barack Obama used social media to greatly enhance his political campaign to both raise money and also to engage with younger voters. And how by converging together young voters became engaged and formed online communities that shared critical discussion and took part in creating content themed around the 2008 campaign. The trends shown in 2008 underlined a change in how people interact with both mass media and social media, the Internet was the facilitator of this change. New opportunities for interaction became available because of this, whether it was directly contacting candidates through social media or asking questions on YouTube, citizens now have greater opportunities to connect with their politicians then previously was the case.


I have also explored participatory culture and how this has created a new kind of relationship between consumers and major media companies. By examining historical and recent campaigns conducted by fan communities I have demonstrated that the internet is playing an increasingly important role in empowering fans to take an active role by coercing production companies. When fans converge to participate together around cultural objects significant shaping can take place. In the case of team fortress; an engaged audience together with an open minded and proactive developer have come together to form a convergence point in which both parties decide and mediate

the shape of the object to form new outcomes. There is little doubt that TF2 would not be as successful today without the involvement of its fans. This interaction evidences how new possibilities can emerge. While social media is not the sole element in making participatory and convergence culture as prominent as it is today. The Internet has greatly enhancing the numbers of people available to communicate and converge together. These possibilities have allowed audiences’ new opportunities to cross


boundaries of national and cultural specificity and created the conditions for individual’s to network with people they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. The evidence from the study suggests that convergence culture will continue to play an important role in shaping the online experience of audiences in the future. It will continue to enhance the power and scope of social media. A far cry from an earlier manifestation as a collection of websites to the current multi platforms on which people communicate daily across multiple devices and time zones.




In 1968, as we’ve seen Star Trek fans undertook a campaign to say their TV show. Looking back on this event, is now it is possible to see the early trends of

participatory and convergence culture emerging. In a time when there was no internet, this example stands in terms of size and scale that to this very day remain comparable to online campaigns of a similar nature. Back then there was no way to account for how these fans came together. Today this type of action might be best described as being a convergence, so while participatory and convergence culture have been

around for a long time, it was not until invention of social media platforms that they really became the mainstream. Social media did not change the way people converge to participate as a collective, social media changed the scale of how many people could interact and participate at the same time.



Through the convergence and participation of the audiences, social media has dramatically changed the way people view, share and interact with media content. The effects of this vary across the types of media we have today, be it organising a presidential campaign, or petitioning a media company about a television series.

Social media empowers people to converge and then to participate together to form new outcomes, further more these tools shape the direction of the development of the media content itself, fans are now becoming active to a greater extent than ever before because of the way social media networks are breaking down barriers and

obstructions that previously prevented this from happening. This paper has shown that social media is the driving force behind a great deal of social change that is taking place at the moment, this is both a cultural and commercial phenomenon. TF2

provides us with an idea as to how these new commercial opportunities might one day look. On the cultural side there is the campaign for president of Barack Obama and


how interaction powered by social media changed the way people communicate directly with candidates and the media. We have also seen how from very small beginnings social media sites themselves have changed, from being small websites to large platforms. Facebook and Twitter can no longer be considered websites because they are not limited to just simply a desktop computer. Facebook and Twitter are now on phones, tablets and portable devices. As such they must now be considered platforms, in much the same way we might consider other platforms for connecting people such as email or SMS phone messaging. With these new platforms it is even faster for users to share information; Jenkins idea of spreadable media is very applicable to this development.



I investigated how TF2 has changed due to audience generated content. This model of the fans contributing to and making money from the content they create for the game is perhaps as important a moment as when the Star Trek fans first petitioned NBC to save their TV series. The commercial model used in TF2 has profound implications for future audience interaction with media content, and how an audience in the future may also become a key partner, co producing media content. It is possible that in the future audiences will be involved in the creation of films, television series and online content. It could be argued that it is already beginning to emerge as smaller niche social media networks are attempting to harness the power of audiences in new ways. Kickstarter is one such example, a micro-financing website that encourages users to contribute money to community causes or new products that require funding. Very recently a film project entitled Veronica Mars was launched on Kickstarter to raise funds to create a movie. Fans that made donations could directly participate in the

film depending on how much money they contributed to the project. This example serves as a template perhaps of what may come to be standard practice in the future. Based on the findings of this dissertation it is clear that social media will continue to profoundly shape the way in which we interact with each other across the entire planet. This will lead to further, greater opportunities to form a transcultural media

networks, helping to bridge divides through creating new richer and inclusive content.



Dissertation Series: Appendix

The Differences between McLuhan and Williams


With both of these competing theoretical frameworks there is a limitation in the debates generated about the nature of the agency of both technology and humanity. By focusing solely on the agency of their chosen theoretical framework, McLuhan

and Williams fail to the take into account the agency and possibilities of the combined power of both technology and society and their shaping of society and technology. It

is only by looking at both the technological and the human agencies together, that it then becomes possible to account for the development seen in a videogame such as Team Fortress 2 (TF2). The development of video games and the participation of players can only be fully explained by taking into account the equal importance of the technological and human elements of how the game has evolved over time. When two actors form a convergence point from which culture and new possibilities for development and collaboration emerge.



iAnime Fans

Anime fans started to learn the Japanese to speed up the process of making Anime

films, cartoons and manga (comics) available for the English speaking audience in America. By doing this the Japanese and American fans have become actors in the process of shaping a community that crosses national borders. Converging together through a common interest in Anime across the globe a fan community can greatly expand their visibility and cultural significance, Jenkins suggest that, ‘this is a new cosmopolitanism—knowledge sharing on a global scale. As the community enlarges and reaction time shortens, fandom becomes much more effective as a platform for consumer activism’ (Jenkins, 2006b, p. 141).


iii Mann Co. In-game Store

For further information on the Mann Co store in TF2, is available here: [Accessed: 03/04/2013] iv Link to Psy’s Gangnam Style Video on YouTube:

[Accessed 03/04/2013]


v Link to Baauer’s Harlem Shake Video on YouTube: [Accessed 03/04/2013]


vThe Matrix Films and Convergence



The Matrix is a prime example of how a point of convergence is not limited to just

one single media form. If Matrix fans wish to further their understanding of the matrix itself, they are required to increase their level of engagement with the content, a

casual fan for example, may watch just the films and have little interest in the supporting information. Fans with a greater interest in the broader environment of the films and their storyline can read blogs and forums that expand the resources

available to the community to increase their understanding of the universe that makes up the Matrix.


vii   Brief History of Team Fortress

The original Team Fortress game (Team Fortress Software, 1996) was a modification or (mod) of a video game called Quake (id Software, 1996), the Team Fortress mod

of Quake was developed by John Cook, Ian Caughley and Robin Walker. The Team Fortress mod for the Quake video game engine became very popular with players who were seeking new and alternative multiplayer games to play online together.



With its unique style and tactics Team Fortress provided the player with many new challenges that other multiplayer games at that time in the late 1990s could not provide. The key focus of the game play is being part of a team, working together to achieve the game objective. In order to do this, players can play as one of 9 different characters called ‘classes’. Each ‘class’ in the game has a specific role within the team, in addition to this, each character has their own unique style of weapons and

combat abilities. In much the same way that a soccer team needs to have a goalkeeper, defenders and strikers working together in order for the team to achieve success.


viiTF2 Game play Description

TF2 and the original mod both use the same 9 different classes that players can

choose from; these nine classes can be further categorized into 3 groups. The three groups are assault, defense and support. The Scout, the Soldier and the Pyro make up the assault class, the Medic, the Sniper and the Spy are all part of the support group, the last group is the defense which has the Heavy, the Demon and the Engineer. As with team sports like soccer and rugby, each class is an important component of the overall team, classes must work together in order to be effective at winning online games. Each member of the team has different movements, strengths and weaknesses; these weaknesses can be overcome by using the tactical combinations of both

weapons and different classes. There are many different tactical combinations that are possible to be used in both defensive situations as well in attack, in addition to the choice of classes it is possible to change how a class character performs in battle through the selection of different weapons.



Dissertation Series: Bibliography

Abrams, L. C. & Craig Lefebvre, R. (2009). ‘Obama’s wired campaign: Lessons for public health communication’. Journal of health communication, 14(5), p. 415-423.


Burgess, J. and Green, J. (2009). YouTube : online video and participatory culture / JeanBurgess and Joshua Green ; with contributions by Henry Jenkins and John Hartley,Cambridge, UK, Malden, MA: Polity, pp. 62-70


Boyd, D. (2007). ‘The Significance of Social Software’, in Blog Talks Reloaded: Social Software Research & Cases, p. 15-30. Norderstedt, Germany: Books on Demand.


Chalaby, J. K. (2000). ‘Journalism Studies in an Era of Transition in Public Communications’ in Journalism, 1(1), SAGE Online Journals, p. 11-14. Available from: [Accessed 09/12/2012].


Couldry, N. (2008). ‘Actor Network Theory and Media: Do They Connect and On What Terms?’ in, Andreas Hepp, (ed.) Connectivity, Networks and Flows: Conceptualizing Contemporary Communications. The Hampton Press, pp. 2-5. Available from: [Accessed 01/04/2013]


Cypher, M., Richardson, I., (2006). ‘An Actor-Network Approach to Games and Virtual Environments’. Joint Computer Games and Interactive Entertainment Conference, 2006, 4-6, December 2006 Perth, Australia. Available from: [Accessed 05/12/2012].


Erkul, E. R., & Kes-Erkul, A. (2009). ‘Web 2.0 in the Process of e-Participation: The case of organizing for America and the Obama Administration (orking Paper No. 09-

001). University of Massachusetts, MA: National Centre for Digital Government, p.

11-14. Available from:…

[Accessed 01/04/2013]


Harfoush, R. (2009). Yes We Did: An Inside Look at How Social Media Built the

Obama Brand. Berkeley, California: New Riders, pp. 139-144.


Hanna, R. Rohm, A. and Crittenden, V.L. (2011). ‘We’re all connected: The power of the social media ecosystem’. in Business Horizons. Number 54.3 C: pp. 265-273. Available from: [Accessed 01/04/2013].

Hartley, J. (1992). Teleology: Studies in Television, London: Routledge.


Ihde, D. (1991). Instrumental Realism: The Interface Between Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Technology, Indiana UP: Bloomington.


Iyengar, S., & Kinder, D. R. (2010). News That Matters: Television and American opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 128-130.


Jenkins, H. Ford, S. Green and Joshua, C. (2013). Spreadable Media: Creating value and meaning in a networked culture, New York: NYU Press, pp. 112-150.


Jenkins, H. (2006a). Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide. New

York: New York University Press, pp. 92 -169.


Jenkins, H. (2006b). Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring participatory culture.

New York: NYU Press, pp. 61- 142.


Jenkins, H. (2004). ‘The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence’, in the International

Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(1), p. 33-43.


Jenkins, H. (2003). ‘Video Game Virtue’ in Technology Review Online (August 1)

Available from: [Accessed 01/04/2013].


Kipnis, J., (2004). ‘Successful Guy’. Billboard, 7 Feburary, pp. 44-45. Available from: [Accessed09/01/2013].


Kozinets, R. V. (2007). ‘Inno-Tribes: Star Trek as Wikimedia’, in Cova, B., Kozinets,

R. V. & Shankar, A. (eds.), Consumer Tribes, London: Butterworth Heinemann, pp.



Kucklich, J.(2003). ‘Perspectives of Computer Game Philology,’ Game Studies: International journal of computer game research, v3, n1 (July)

Available from: [Accessed 09/12/2012].


Kushin, M. J., & Yamamoto, M. (2010). ‘Did Social Media Really Matter? College Students’ Use of Online Media and Political Decision Making in the 2008 Election’, in Mass Communication and Society, 13(5), p. 608-630.

Available from: [Accessed 29/03/2012].



Latour, B. (1991) ‘Technology is Society Made Durable’, in J. Law (ed.) A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination. London: Routledge,

pp. 103-131.


Latour, B. (1994). ‘Pragmatogonies: A Mythical Account of How Humans and

Nonhumans Swap Properties’. American Behavioural Scientist 37(6): pp. 791-808.




Latour, B. (1999). Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies.

Cambridge: Harvard University Press.




Levin, G., (2004). ‘Family Guy Un-Canceled, Thanks to DVD Sales Success’, in USA Today, 24 March. Available from: [Accessed 16/01/2013].


Lister. M (2009). New Media : A critical introduction. 2nd ed. London: Routledge. p77-88.


Liszkiewicz, A. P. (2010). ‘Cultivated Play: Farmville’. MediaCommons, University of Southern California. Available from: [Accessed 11/12/2012].


McLuhan, M. (1964/1987). Understanding Media: The extensions of man. Ark

Paperbacks, Kegan Paul (ed.) London: Routledge &., pp 7-10.


Moore, C. (2011). ‘Hats of Affect: A study of affect, achievements and hats in Team Fortress 2’. Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research. Volume 11, issue 1, February 2011. Available from: [Accessed 09/12/2012].


Romsdahl, R. J. (2005). ‘Political deliberation and e-participation in policy-making’,

CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, Purdue University Press, Vol. 7, No.

2, pp.1–11.


Scacchi, W. (2010). ‘Computer Game Mods, Modders, modding, and the Mod Scene’,

in First Monday, 15(5) Available from: [Accessed 11/12/2012].


Silverman, D (2011). Interpreting Qualitative Data. 4th ed. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. p386-387.


Thompson, J. B., (1994). The Media and Modernity: A social theory of media, pp.



Williams, Raymond (1974) Television: Technology and Cultural Form. New York: Schocken Books.


Internet Sources:


Hunt, C (2011). ‘The Impact of TV Debates in Elections’, in the RTE Archives. Available from: election-2011/139418-impact-of-tv-debates-in-elections/ [Accessed 30/03/2013].


RTE News (2011). ‘Poll Shows Gallagher Leading Áras Race’.

Available from:


[Accessed 01/04/2013].




Blum, M (2008). ‘Five Signs President-Elect Obama Is a Geek’, Wired Magazine Available from: [Accessed 01/01/2013].


Gavin, P (2009). ‘Trekkie in Chief Wants Screening’,  in Available from: http: // [Accessed 28/03/2013].


Dumoulin, J (1994). ‘Enterprise(OV-101)’. Available from: [Accessed 01/04/2013].


Other Sources, Video and Online Games:


Valve. (1999). ‘Team Fortress Classic’. [PC]. Kirkland. USA: Electronic Arts.


Valve. (2004). ‘Half life 2’. [PC. Xbox360. Playstation 3]. Bellevue. USA: Valve



Valve. (2005). ‘Half life 2 Episode 1’. [PC. Xbox360. Playstation 3]. Bellevue. USA: Valve Corporation.


Valve. (2007). ‘Half life 2 Episode 2’. [PC. Xbox360. Playstation 3]. Bellevue. USA: Valve Corporation.


Valve. (2007). ‘Portal’. [PC. Xbox360. Playstation 3]. Bellevue. USA: Valve



Valve. (2007). ‘Team Fortess 2’. [PC. Xbox360. Playstation 3]. Bellevue. USA: Valve Corporation.


Valve. (2007). ‘Meet the Team’. [Online video series]. Bellevue. USA: Valve Corporation. Available from: [Accessed 09/12/2012].


Valve. (2010). ‘Steam Works, Toolkit for Building in Game Weapons’. Bellevue,

USA: Valve Corporation. [Accessed 09/12/2012].


Valve. (2009). Wiki. [ Knowledge resource site]. Bellevue, USA: Valve Corporation. Available from:

[Accessed 09/12/2012].