Monetization and Skyrim, appropriation and play

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University of New Brunswick


Mods, or user modifications created by fans in games such as Skyrim, are particularly salient illustrations of the hybridity of authorship being discussed in contemporary media studies (Merrin; Jenkins, Fans; Bruns, Blogs). In 2015, Bethesda Softworks and Valve Corporation collaborated on a new monetization model for Skyrim mods. However, it was subsequently shut down four days later due to backlash it prompted from the target community of content creators for Skyrim (McWhertor). This thesis explores expressions of modders around the controversial monetization of Skyrim mods on the Steam Workshop. Using content and discourse analysis I critically examine the “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) thread created by the CEO of Valve Gabe Newell on, April 25, 2015. Using three theories around the lens of modding as play I examined the discourse in this text and found expression of the importance of the assemblage of play (Taylor) in an assemblage of modding, elements of differentiation between professional and leisure production values as playbour (Kücklich), and ways of understanding how to support value generation and monetize participatory production in better ways through produsage (Bruns, ”Produsage”).