Fan participation in videogame communities. Cultural industries as mediators


The online world has transformed videogame fan communities (MacCallum-Stewart, 2014). Game practices requiring interaction between players have also changed (Drachen, Mirza-Babaei, & Nacke, 2018). In one way or another, all of this has been taken advantage of by the sector industries which currently help to organize these communities. Fortnite (2017), the game developed and published by Epic Games, is the starting point for analysing interactions between the fan’s practices and the company. As an example of its fan community, the first Fortnite World Cup (2019) gathered 10 million gamers around the game in YouTube. Most of them belonged to the so-called generation Z; the company partnered with a group of influencers who captivated millions of online viewers (Güemes, 2019 August 27).

From a THEORETICAL POINT OF VIEW participation refers to the public presence of fans in communities, where people interact and communicate, mediated by multimodal texts. Fans and cultural industries, generate these texts (Carpentier, 2011; Dijck, Poell, & Waal, 2018). There are common interests, practices and shared values among those who participate (Duffett, 2017). Participation takes place in a network culture where both consumers and producers interact, and companies establish relationships with their fans in order to define their own innovative practices (Jenkins, 2019). From this perspective, the research questions are the following:

  1. How does Epic Games, the Fortnite’s company, contribute to specific social communication and participation settings between fans?
  2. How do the fans participate in the Fortnite communities through strategies which include the creation and use of multimodal languages?

Two aspects have been addressed in METHODOLOGY. First, the nature of the game, understood as a text which is reconstructed within and outside of the game. Second, the approach to gamers’ interactions maintained through social media, through Big Data analysis (Kitchin, 2014; Panda, Abraham, & Hassanien, 2018), combining quantitative and qualitative viewpoints. A total of approximately 64,567 mentions of Fortnite were made by 24,335 users participating in Twitter and YouTube. These included comments and resends for the period between 25th November 2018 and 9th January 2019

SOME OF THE RESULTS obtained will be aimed at CRITICAL DISCUSSION OF THE CONCEPT OF PARTICIPATION, when the Fornite fans and the community managers supported by Epic Games interact in social networks. The following points are of note: 1) Innovation and fan practices. The context in which Fortnite is immersed may be related to two types of elements. Firstly, the systems or platforms which physically support the game, and also aspects related to the game structure. 2) Game settings and monetisation processes. Gamers are aware that the game designers are moved by financial interests which condition how they play and what relationships the gamers maintain within the game or outside it, through social networks. 3) Productivity, participation and creation. Whether consciously or not, the game only becomes an object of analysis by the gamer when they are playing and this leads to a process of interpretation, and with it a reconstruction. The construction of these interpretations has been encouraged through the Epic Games strategies.