The Value of User Generatated Content


We attend many different talks and presentations as PhD students this week – as a first year students we only spectate and poise question’s at the end of our colleagues presentations. I don’t think one talk so far has connected completely with my practice as a whole but I feel I can make connections by relating methods, process and application of practice. Its also inspiring to see other PhD formats and how they approach their research problem.

There are so many talks I couldn’t possible write about them all – therefore I am only highlighting one todays which I connected with and found thought provoking.
The student Brita Pollmuller introduced “Machinima – making movies in a virtual world”.
She is using Second Life as a platform to participate within an educational group called Schome. The group is strictly moderated and supports teenage learning within a digital environment. Brita’s presentation highlighted how youths of today are engaging with technology. They are using new language of ‘terminology‘ to describe their practice and process and becoming more design savvy as a result of growing up surrounded by digital technology which has becomes integral to their daily rituals.
It fascinates me that a six year old can pick up a games console and just play…
No instructions are required, they subliminally just ‘know’ what to do. Brita highlighted the playful element and how this inspires youths to engage more freely. She presented some beautiful examples of movies made by her students, whom remain anonymous and adopt alias characters to present themselves within the digital community.
I began to think about other platforms for co-creation. For example, PlayStation home and the game “Little Big Planet”. The game LBP presents a platform for co-creation, allowing players to construct their own levels within  digital world. The design team are reviewing player generated worlds and even scouting new level designers – from user generated content!
I asked Brita about these other methods and if she thought this had scope for future investigation. She facilitates participatory practice within Second Life to make movies – can Little Big Planet or similar games be used in the same way to nurture creativity? Can an Artist/Designer facilitate practice to educate consumers through digital frameworks? Another student in the audience stated that Sony heavily audit and regulate user generated content therefore there are limitations into what can be achieved.
There are many current debates about regulation and intellectual property? Who should profit from user generated creativity? If Sony design and produce the tool –  are the right to stake ownership over the outputs?
I think further research, practice and reflection needs to be done to resolve these issues. The main issue is accessibility – to make co-creation accessible to a mass audience it needs to be presented in a functional way designed for mass participation. Sony may regulate the content but they do provide a platform for creativity and if that allows a 6 year old to design their own game level – it has real value. I think there needs to be a balance between real time/digital worlds to support co-creation and children/teens and adults can learn more from real time social experience and interactions. But, if a design framework presented through gaming platforms nurture and support creativity we can reach exciting results  – push boundaries?
If anyone has any insight or debates into this  – please comment!
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