Faculty of Social Sciences

Documenting Videogame Communities: A Study of Community Production of Information in Social-Media Environments and its Implications for Videogame Preservation

  • Date:
  • Location: Humanistiska Teatern, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Sköld, Olle
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Institutionen för ABM
  • Contact person: Sköld, Olle
  • Disputation

Drawing on the disciplines of library and information studies and archival studies, this study seeks to explore the production of information in online videogame communities and to elucidate how such insights can offer practical and conceptual support to the knotty issue of how to preserve those sociocultural aspects of videogames that exist 'beyond' the code and audiovisual data resources of the videogame itself. This is accomplished in two principal moves: (i) by delving into the current state of socioculturally-focused videogame preservation and; (ii) by inquiring into the production of information carried out by videogame communities in what arguably is one of their most important interfaces of interaction—discussion forums, wikis, and other social-media services. The study is based on four papers (I–IV). Paper I develops the theoretical framework of the study on the basis of practice theory and document theory. Papers II and III report on field-studies of videogame-community information production in the context of two processes of importance in community social life: memory-making (II) and knowledge production (III). Paper IV offers a qualitative systematic review of videogame-archiving literature, allowing Papers I–III to be situated in an archival context. The study employs multiple methods and encompasses several empirical sites of inquiry and was inspired by the framework of exploratory research and of 'bricolage' research strategies.

The results of the study add to the present state of knowledge on how information in the social-media environments of the large and influential present-day videogaming domain emerges as a result of community practices of production, and how videogame-community social life is entangled with information production in such spaces. The study also furthers archival inquiry on the topic of videogame preservation by providing a description and analysis of what information objects videogame-related social media plausibly hold, and by what communal practices and processes they have been brought into existence. Furthermore, the study examines the consequences of collecting community-produced social media and framing it as documentation of the sociocultural aspects of videogames—a key issue in videogames preservation.