Knowledge communities: Information, interpretation, and the currency of the era

Image Master Scorpion

There’s a new piece by Ryan M. Milner at Online Fandom, dwelling into the relation between Fallout fans and developers:

I think there’s something Bethesda, and producers of media texts in general, can learn from these observations. The Fallout fanbase (at least the majority of the vocal fanbase) has been wary of Bethesda’s handling of Fallout 3 for a while now. And time and exposure has only resulted in a stalemate, if not worsened relations. Part of me thinks that so many fans made up their mind so long ago that the only thing that would satisfy them was a Fallout 3 that looked just like Fallout 1 & 2, with no updates or changes. But another part of me wonders if the problem isn’t one of information and interpretation. Bethesda to date has released only a small number screenshots and one teaser trailer for a game that comes out in a few months. No beta test. No demo. No real glimpse into the process of creating the game. No invitations for input other than forum space and a character attribute contest where Bethesda picked the winner. All other information has been disseminated through third-party sources such as industry magazines. I think maybe Bethesda is ignoring the cardinal values of the Fallout community.

If fans thrive on knowledge, why not open up a bit? Maybe more disclosure about what Fallout 3 will look like would help. And maybe even more than content, openly discuss ideas. Ask for fan input, and give them detailed feedback about the process as you consider their suggestions and perspectives. I know that’s not the typical PR we see from most media companies, but helping fans feel like collaborators could do wonders. I understand why Bethesda might be skeptical about doing so. They’ve had to be on the defensive with the Fallout fan community since they got the rights to the game. But it seems like this wrong-foot start has been made worse by their guarded tone. When fans interpret this guardedness as disrespect, a vicious cycle ensues. Given how entrenched this pattern is between the two parties, I don’t see how a shift to an open exchange of knowledge could make the situation any worse.

Thought provoking stuff, really worth a read.


One thought on “Knowledge communities: Information, interpretation, and the currency of the era

  1. I actually don’t mind a suprise…. however I am one of those gamers who would be really pleased with a fallout 1+2 part 2 game. i love the isometric view and am sad to see it falling by the wayside as far as a form of gaming (Come on DIablo 3, please?)

    If I were a RTS fan I’d love it they get cookie cutter games every week. However those who are TBS fans, we only have a few brands that we really value. Espeically fans of the Isometric type games like Fallout, Jagged Alliance and I guess you could almost call NWN and Baulders Gates similar in the TB Isometric fashion.

    Noone wants to see that happen to the fallout series. I don’t want a really pretty turd. No one does. And to be honest, I am pretty sure that Beth will put out a game that will be a ‘AAA’ or ‘AA’ title. I just wonder how much of the turn based strategy will be left in…

    Its not 1997 anymore. We don’t get a whole lot of games from that genre and fallout 3 wont be a game from the genre…. so of course they are going to be concerned as to how the game is going to turn out…..because thats what about 50% of the fans really want (myself included, but I’ll play anything with the fallout name on it)….. The other half have really high expectations because the predecessors were amazing.

    Im tired hope that made sense.

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