III. Re-Create: Creating Narratives within Established Frames
The Re-Create section of this anthology moves the conversation about fandom still further down the participatory line, examining fan products that use multiple new tools and strategies made available by digital media. By reimagining a fandom in multimedia, fans both expand and complicate the role of their productions.
Diane Penrod explores one such multimedia fan role in “Writing and Rhetoric for a Ludic Democracy: YouTube, Fandom, and Participatory Pleasure.” Examining the rhetorical strategies that fan groups and also individual fans use to participate in a given fandom, Penrod studies the implications of the varying techniques on both the reception and subsequent re-production of fanvid in a given discourse.
Christopher Paul’s “World of Rhetcraft: Rhetorical Production and Raiding in World of Warcraft” takes a similar approach, examining the rhetoric surrounding raiding in the now-ubiquitous MMORPG. With particular attention to fan-driven forums, Paul looks at how fans gather and distribute information regarding game play in forums outside the game itself. This seemingly ancillary form of production actually enhances a player’s ability to participate in game discourse both more efficiently, and more appropriately.
Meanwhile, in “Rekindling Rhetoric: Oratory and Marketplace Culture in Guild Wars,” Matthew S. Johnson investigates the role of the marketplace in another MMORPG. Johnson analyzes speech and interaction in the marketplace in Guild Wars to offer a convincing argument about the function of commerce and performance in establishing social identities, status, and norms even in this virtual realm.
Next, Mark Pepper moves the conversation to a slightly different mode of production in “Virtual Guerrillas and a World of Extras: Shooting Machinima in Second Life.” Pepper traces the production of a piece of machinima in Second Life by himself and a group of colleagues, coupling his own candid first-person narrative with careful theoretical explication of both the process and the product (if such a distinction can or should even be made). He describes not only the process of acclimation to the new medium but more importantly his own evolving understanding of issues of perspective and voice as he describes the project’s progress.
Finally, the section’s essays conclude with an appropriately polyvocal piece entitled “Remix, Play, and Remediation: Undertheorized Composing Practices.” In this essay, Andréa Davis, Suzanne Webb, Dundee Lackey, and Dànielle Nicole Devoss collaborate to offer up a sort of inspection of how composition practices translate to/in new media. Narratives by the first three authors are framed by a contemplative call for both flexibility and patience as both composition and new media grow and change in tandem.
The first three profiles in the Re-Create section allow us to hear from fan-scholars regarding their own fannish participation in digital arenas. Zach Waggoner discusses the construction of his Morrowwind alter-identity “Zaara” in “Conf(us)(ess)ions of a Videogame Role-Player.” Harald Warmelink traces character development and interaction in “Born Again in a Fictional Universe: A Participant Portrait of EVE Online.” Wendi Jewell offers her perspective on the discourse of a particular guild in “A Place to Call Home: The Experience of One Guild Chat in World of Warcraft.” All of these gamer-scholars, then, offer clues into the complexities of identity, discourse, and rhetoric in online gameplay.
Although Catherine McDonald’s “Magic Canvas: Digital Building Blocks” seems rather out of place following these three first-person gamer narratives, it is perhaps a fitting shift with which to wrap up the Re-Create section. McDonald profiles software engineer Jay O’Conner’s participation in a vast array of digital fan activities: strategy gaming, blogging, and even digital music creation. These somewhat disparate fandoms may seem to be an unrelated series of digital activities, and yet McDonald (and even O’Conner himself) makes the case that the common thread is more than just the medium: instead, these fan behaviors all serve as creative composition spaces with far-reaching possibilities. Taken together, then, these profiles expand the scope of digital writing and demand that scholarship further consider the implications of these varied realms.