Findings: Research Methodology

Cultural value is an inherently qualitative proposition and the research design selected was deemed the most appropriate for gaining a rich insight into the focal phenomenon. Semi-structured interviews have been conducted with key informants within communities of practice (machinimators), creative (eg., games developers) and cultural (eg., digital arts galleries and festivals curators) industries. Interviews have been transcribed and analysed for key and emergent themes using content analytic techniques.

The methodology has also used virtual focus groups, conducted within the 3D virtual environment of Second Life© as a means to engage groups of active machinimators in an open discussion of their creative processes. The focus group interviews were conducted within machinimators who work with different game contexts in order to inform an understanding of the ways in which machinimators use the different creative environments. Each focus group was recorded and analysed using narrative and content analytical techniques. Selections of the focus group interviews were subsequently edited together to produce a digital machinima artefact of the events and research activities. The machinimas have been posted on a project website, with appropriate permissions from research participants.

In addition, data has been drawn from a wide range of online community fora, including traditional social media networks and specialised gaming and machinima community networks, including both open and closed networks. This data has been analysed using a ‘netnographic’ approach (internet based ethnography, see Kozinets, 2010).

Finally, cultural analysis of recent machinima films has been undertaken to inform evaluation of skillsets, participation, social and cultural exchanges, genres of content, media and channels used for dissemination of identified works.

Analyses of data together with cultural artefacts illustrating key findings will be published on a project website which has been developed to host critical analysis and commentary, including invited posts from key stakeholders (machinima community members, games developers, digital artists and film-makers).

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