April 23, 2007
Collaboration 2.0: John Banks and Developer/Gamer Relationships

Our second presentation of the day at Collaboration 2.0 on Saturday was presented by Dr. John Banks, a postdoctoral research fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation CCI at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

Banks' talk centered on navigating co-creator relationships and on understanding new media and multimedia relationships among users themselves and between users and producers. His work drew on the insights of Yochai Benkler's influential book The Wealth of Networks.

Banks has done a significant amount of work in the video games industry looking at the relationship between game developers and gamers, informed not just by his academic work but his experience in the industry as well, as a former employee of the PC game development company Auran, where he worked in Brisbane as the online community relations manager. Some of his research through Queensland still involves funding from Auran. He worked directly with the company from 2000-2005.

While the content of Banks' presentation cannot be reported here due to the private nature of Collaboration 2.0, he has presented on some of this work before. Last year, Banks presented some of his work on this company/gamer relationship and his own experiences to the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR), as part of their Internet Research 7.0: Internet Convergences.

Banks' study was called "Reconfiguring Project Ecologies in the Video Games Industry," and the abstract is available here. His study here focuses in particular in his work managing and facilitating the relationship between the fan community and Auran based on the game Trainz, a train and railroad simulation. According to the abstract, the study as part of the AOIR focuses on:

how Auran has increasingly incorporated and involved train and rail fans in the process of designing and making Trainz. Much of the art content production for Trainz is now outsourced to an ad-hoc network of voluntary fan content creators. Fans are co-creators of the Trainz software product. Auran and the fan content-creators rely on an assemblage of ICTs such as email, online forums, chat, instant messaging services, file sharing facilities and VOIP (Skype) to support and manage this emerging project ecology.

Banks' research focuses on the interface between media corporations, educational and cultural institutions, and user-led innovation and consumer co-creation in participatory culture networks. He continues to research at the interface of game developers and gamers as they negotiate co-creation relationships.