Machinima is the making of original films using content derived from 3D video games and virtual environments. The first recognised machinima was created in 1996. Since then, it has achieved an impressive growth record albeit a medium in transition. It is embedded in social media networking platforms – during this project the former community website, Machinima.com (now MachinimaTM) recorded its 5 billionth hit – only the second website to do so in the history of the internet. This report focuses on research findings from a primary investigation into the perspectives of the key stakeholders associated with the medium: machinima creators (machinimators), games developers and digital arts curators. The research has used a predominantly qualitative methodology, including netnography and interviews.
Netnographic findings highlight four main channels of distribution for machinima: games channels, social networks, virtual learning channels and walled channels, emphasising the role of community and commerce in its passive and active modes of production. Perspectives from the stakeholder groups highlight cultural and economic values in relation to personal skills development, economic and social benefits and broader societal impacts for machinimators and the community of practice; direct and indirect impacts on games developers through extended market reach; and its contribution to cultural offers in developing access to digital arts and underpinning networked relationships between creative and cultural industries. Conclusions focus on:
- convergence with filmmaking and other creative media in the finished quality of the work, yet machinima remains unique in its mode of creativity;
- the need to recognise originality and authorship of machinima work;
- a legal framework that is out of touch with stakeholder needs in creating cultural and economic value;
- the nature of the virtual as contemporary ‘experience environment’.