The critical gamer: How gamers participate on IGN's platform
Graaf, L. de
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The discussion about the positions of game journalists in the gaming community has been a much debated topic in recent years. Many researchers like David Nieborg and Maxwell Foxman have attempted to outline the importance of game journalists and the platform they use in their researches. Nieborgs researches concluded that many game journalists are not aware of their own position in the hierarchy of authority in mainstream media. Yet, there has not been conducted much research on the other key participant of these platforms: the gamer audience. What drives these members to participate on online fora and communities and how do they relate themselves to the game journalist? This translates to the main research question: “how do members facilitate a participatory culture by provoking critical discussions?” A by digital ethnography inspired research on IGN’s gaming reviews has been conducted in order to find an answer to these questions. The comments on the reviews of Pokémon: Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate have been analysed and coded over the span of two weeks. This means that approximately 600 comments on Pokémon: Let’s Go and 2700 comments on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate have been analysed. The comments were selected with the concepts of Bourdieu’s cultural capital, Jenkins participation and membership distinction in mind. The concept of affordances served to select the most interesting comments according to the audience. The analyses of these comments led to a couple of interesting patterns. These particular reviews namely attract retrogamers, uncivil behaviour and elitist fans. The comment sections on the reviews are also a place to tap collective intelligence. In addition, members mostly posted overtly negative comments, comments were rarely positive of nature. These findings help construct an image of a critical gamer, one who only comments to add to their feelings of authority or to dismiss other members who display false fannish behaviour. This research does not encompass the millions of people that do not comment on the reviews, but who do read them. It tests the concept of participation and what it entails.