IntroductionHaving researched and followed the growth of machinima since the First European Machinima festival, co-hosted by DMU and AMAS back in 2007, I’ve just been awarded an Arts & Humanities Research Council grant to evaluate the cultural impacts of machinima. The project is part of the AHRC’s Cultural Value Project, a 2-year project that aims to make a major contribution to the way we think about the value of arts and culture to individuals and society. The project intends to take different forms of cultural experience, such as machinima, to understand the benefits uniquely associated with cultural activity, including economic and social. Research will be used to inform decisions on public policy and funding in relation to arts and culture.
The Machinima: Investigating Cultural Values project will run til 31 July 2014, so it’s a short project during which I aim to deliver an evaluation of the ‘state of the art’ and its values for the cultural and creative sector, as well as on creative practitioners (‘machinimators’, film makers, and others). The Machinima project builds on research I’ve previously undertaken and, along with my Research Assistant, Mike Uwins, we are planning to talk to the community as well as games developers, arts and film festival organisers and other stakeholders through the study. Initially, we are producing an up-to-date taxonomy (classification) for machinima works (which will be used to inform development of other stages of the research). Over the years, and indeed at our festival back in 2007, we’ve categorized machinima as many things from fanvid, experimental art, music video, documentary, parody, to grouping them according to their capture mode (perfect capture, screen cap, asset compositing, non-game machinima, courtesy of Henry Lowood and Friedrich Kirschner), to situating machinima in relation to game play (and hack) modes (eg., Tim Howgego’s Map of World of Warcraft Online Communities).
More recently, it is being used in education, politics and to support social change. What’s your view – what categories of machinima do you recognize, and what are their spheres of influence (who, when, how)? As a machinimator or machinima user, how do you categorise your own work, or use the categories to influence stakeholders (such as audience, games developers, arts and film festivals, others) in your creative practice? Finally, for each category, what is the best example of machinima you have identified and why do you think it’s a good example (with links if you have them).