Computer games in a frame of media convergence: memes and fan art inspired by the Witcher 3 games series

The article is devoted to the study of the role and place of fan creativity in the promotion of a transmedia franchise. The main topic of the article is the analysis of the interactive component of transmedia processes, which includes the artefacts of gamers’ creativity - memes and fan-art devoted to the games of «The Witcher 3» series. The author considers the concept of media convergence, an important characteristic of modern media processes and features of transmedia storytelling technology, which describes the principles of promoting the same ideas and stories through different media in order to engage consumers. The stimulation of interactive component, especially user thematic creativity, describes one of the most important technologies for promoting a media franchise. The author refers to the computer game The Witcher 3, which played an important role in promoting the Witcher media franchise. It have spawned a multiple visual user-generated content (internet memes and fan art), which samples are analyzed in the article. The author analyzed the visual content of 4 popular publics related to the world of The Witcher on the social network «VKontakte», identified memes and fan art dedicated to the appropriation of gaming experience, and divided them into thematic groups. Then the author highlighted the semantic foundations and code principles of formation of these visual artifacts, namely, which elements and in what order are combined to convey the idea. To interpret the events of the game and include its characters in the common cultural field, gamers brought into the image popular Internet memes. And after the main plot have already become the part of the cultural environment, the visual code of the game begins to interpret other virtual worlds and the facts of everyday life. The author concludes that such creativity immerses users in the discussion about the "catchy" elements of the plot, and forms the basis for social relations and collective identity. The plots and characters of «The Witcher 3» enrich the general database of Internet memes and introduce to users new images and possibilities for interpreting social events, for example, marking "monsters" that need to be destroyed offline. It allows the elements of the media franchise to transcend the boundaries of the game and become the part of the culture, media reality and everyday life. It contributes to the intensities of perception of certain events and social facts in the mass consciousness. In addition the popularity of all media channels that promote user creativity (groups on social networks, thematic collections of memes and fan art, personal pages of artists) and the Witcher franchise are growing. Gratitude: The work was supported by "Expert institute of social research" (EISR), scientific project "Gaming technologies of involvеment and conviction in political and civil communications in modern Russia" (№ 1022061700190-3-5.6.1).

For citation: Miziryak N.A. Computer games in a frame of media convergence: memes and fan art inspired by the Witcher 3 games series. St. Petersburg Sociology Today. 2022. N. 18. P. 41-59. DOI:10.25990/socinstras.pss-18.9kj3-ac76

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