Slides: The Player-Authors Project

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Prezi : The Player-Authors Project

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Player-Authors Project Summary Report

We are pleased to share the results of our research: Summary Report

(Note: It’s a 6MB file.)

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Some descriptive statistics from Survey One

The majority of the ultimate reporting on Player-Authors Survey One will focus on user-generated content issues, but since the survey allowed us to gather a range of data from respondents, I thought I’d share some interesting charts that seem to confirm some common assumptions about participation in platforms and genres:

platform-age1). Players surveyed that preferred the Wii were slightly younger than gamers using other platforms:




hours-mmo2. MMO players averaged about 6 hours more per week of reported playing time than those who did not play MMOs.


platform-gender3. Women preferred mobile gaming platforms more often than men, and preferred the PC as a gaming platform less than men.


platform-UGCscalar4. PC gamers generally valued user-generated content more than non-PC gamers.  Among those preferring consoles, those on the Sony PlayStation platform were more interested in gaining access to player-created content.


We’re just getting started with this data, so there’s much more to come…

Please note: If you are a game developer and want to participate in Survey Two of the project (targeted at the UGC perceptions within the developer community), that survey is still live and posted here:

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Survey One (Player Survey) Initial Data

We are beginning to study the results of the first survey of players regarding UGC practices in games.  A draft summary report of basic descriptive statistics is posted here.  Please do not cite or repost this draft version, as the numbers will likely change slightly.  We will have a firmer version posted here soon. 

However, based on initial analysis, the following appear to be true:

  • We had over 400 valid responses
  • The survey participation skewed substantially male (over 80%)
  • The median age of respondents was roughly 30 years old
  • The PC was respondents’ most popular and preferred gaming platform
  • The Sims was respondents’ most played game among the available options
  • Respondents shared UGC on YouTube more often than on other listed platforms
  • The most common motivation of respondents for creating content was intrinsic pleasure (enjoyment of creativity) and the least common motivation was financial (to make money)
  • The most common UGC practice of respondents was making new objects within games
  • The least common UGC practice was costumes and crafts
  • Respondents generally favored the genre of action/arcade/adventure games the most — racing and sports games were the least popular
  • Roughly half of respondents stated that they had created “remix” UGC
  • The most common reference material for in-game “remix” UGC was “other video games”
  • The most common form of UGC creation among respondents was “maps/scenarios”; the least commons was “music/sound effects”
  • Minecraft was the most popular platform for UGC sharing among respondents; Second Life was the least popular.
  • The same was true for downloading: Minecraft was most the popular platform (among those listed) and Second Life was least popular.
  • Respondents had a range of opinions on the value of UGC.  Most respondents thought that creative tools and the ability to access player-created content were important to their enjoyment of games.  However, many players felt that UGC was not so important to their decision to purchase a particular game.

More information about the player survey, including a finalized version of the Survey One summary, will be posted here shortly as we continue to refine and analyze the data.  We will also be posting initial results of other components of the Player-Authors project.

Please note: If you are a game developer and want to participate in Survey Two of the project (targeted at the UGC perceptions within the developer community), that survey is still live and posted here:


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Rutgers Press Release on Player-Authors Project

Professor Launches First-ever Study of Copyright and User-Generated Content on Social Media Platforms

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Media Contact:
Cathy K. Donovan

Leave it to law students to turn playing video games into a legal lesson on copyright infringement.  

At Rutgers Law–Camden, through a grant from the National Science Foundation, Professor Greg Lastowka has established the first-ever empirical study of copyright and user-generated content on social media platforms, surveying some 30 populations, from LittleBigPlanet to Reddit to YouTube, to understand how various forms of popular creativity intersect with copyright law.

Student research assistants work in Lastowka’s “game lab” analyzing the avatars, 3-D printing templates, fan fiction, Second Life artwork, and other forms of user-generated content. His Rutgers Law–Camden students have become key players in the study.

“What has surprised me most about this project is how closely I have been able to work with my team of research assistants, and how much I have learned from them,” says Lastowka, author of the book Virtual Justice (Yale University Press, 2010). “A lot of what we’ve worked on has been student-initiated. They have contributed ideas, added new dimensions to the research project, and made a significant impact on my scholarship.”

A major component of the project entails sifting through random samples of content, identifying the presence of intellectual property infringements and potential claim instances of fair use.

The Rutgers Law–Camden research team has discovered that many virtual communities enjoy mixing and matching intellectual properties from Game of Thrones with Civilization or writing fan fiction that mashes up Harry Potter with Star Wars or recreating Sonic the Hedgehog in Minecraft. This chaotic playing field is full of copyright puzzles.

How much does an avatar need to resemble a copyrighted character in order to infringe? Is a Minecraft Elvis a protected parody? If an avatar is recognized by its clothing, should that clothing be deemed “functional” and unprotected under copyright law? Should player-created avatars be treated as individual works or potentially infringing ensembles? Think one female avatar that sort of resembles Cinderella – versus that avatar combined with six others that also resemble the Disney princesses.

Without any doubt, video games have been rebooted for Rutgers Law–Camden students Amir Goodarzi-Panah and Christopher Ogino.

“This project has changed my perception on what it’s like to be a lawyer and be affected by the laws we make,” says Goodarzi-Panah, a third-year Rutgers Law–Camden student and UCLA graduate.

“When I was younger I used to play video games a lot more and would have never given a second thought to copying a thing to replay it somewhere else. But now I see that even video games work within a legal framework. It takes some of the abstractness from the law and makes it practical.”

For Ogino, a third-year student and an Arizona State University graduate, working as a research assistant on this project has solidified his career plans to practice intellectual property law.

“I took internet law with Prof. Lastowka and I really liked the class and asked if he had research available for me,” says Ogino. “Doing this kind of work now has been helpful. Copyright infringement is a big area, so it’s good to get familiarity with what the core concepts are.”

Not only are the law students gaining relevant work experience, they are also contributing to innovative research that could ultimately inform future copyright law.

According to Lastowka, good legal policy depends upon accurate data, and the Rutgers Law–Camden project will provide just that. Reformed copyright laws are needed to address this new media and the growing complexities of online authorship.

“We need to find out what’s actually happening with copyright online. The danger here is that copyright may no longer be serving its intended purpose. It was intended to promote social progress by rewarding creators of content. With regards to the sorts of content we’re looking at, it isn’t clear what role copyright law is performing, adds Lastowka, who is currently co-writing a book about copyright law.

Lastowka received his bachelor’s degree in English from Yale University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia. He teaches intellectual property and internet law at Rutgers Law–Camden.

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