Name: Tianyi ZhangShao
SID Number: 450617821
Tutor: Kai Soh
Class time: Wednesday 5pm to 8pm
A lot of aspects of the social media has been introduced during the whole semester’s study. The users generated content (UGC), and the users created content (UCC) are the topic which interests me the most because it has significantly changed how people considered about communication. Although most of the times the UGC and the UCC would be regarded as the same thing, it has some subtle nuance between two of them from social media perspectives which will be elaborated in the following section. The aim of this essay is to explore how the UCC is used in fan activities and online community. A case study will be provided to explain how it works. It will link back to our group work which is prompting the campaign ‘Be the Filter’. In order to understand the topic, some key notions need to be defined.
The first concept that needs to be discussed is the web 2.0 because it is the prerequisite for both UGC and the UCC. Web 2.0 is a term which is created by Darcy DiNucci. O’Reilly (2005) develops the notion and states that the web 2.0 is a change of human attitude. Hinton & Hjorth (2013) further explain O’Reilly ‘s opinion. They believe that the web 2.0 does not create any alternation for the current internet structure or introducing new technologies. The fundamental change of the web 2.0 is to utilise different applications and to encourage users to participate in content creating. Hinton (2013) also emphasises a new term ‘produsers’ which means that users could either be producers or users under the web 2.0 era depending on different situations. Hence, the UGC and the UCC would be the critical elements that are constructed the web 2.0. Hinton & Hjorth (2013) differentiate the UGC and the UCC by providing a precise definition for each. They argue that the UGC concentrates on the behaviour of users relaying messages from others whereas the UCC focuses on the action of users creating an original idea which could be in different forms such as texts, images and videos. This essay will discuss the UCC because most of the fan activities include originalities.
The social media, in this case, is the typical application for the web 2.0 age. Obar and Wildman (2015) describe the common features of the social media as web 2.0 based application and allowing users to interact with each other. These features minimise the geographic restrictions and help users shape new online relations. The social networking site (SNS), also known as the social networking service, has been employed to exercise the features of the social media. Boyd and Ellison (2007) assert that the SNS could encourage users to form online social communities. For instance, the SNS enables users to find people who share the same interests with them quickly. The online social community will be formed if they found enough users like them.
The UCC and fan activities:
A successful example of utilising the UCC in the online community is a Chinese mobile game named ‘Onmyoji’ (Yin Yang Shi) which is developed by a famous game firm called NetEase Game. NetEase describes the game as ‘a part turn-based, part real-time role-playing game’ which is originated from Japanese myth and folklore. The most astonishing attribute of the game is the character design. Unlike other Chinese mobile game, the character design is delicate and attractive. NetEase even spends a huge wealth to invite popular Japanese voice actors to dub for the characters in order to optimise the gaming experiences. Furthermore, each character in the game will have their personal plot which makes the character more vivid.
The game was first launched in China and soon became the most favoured application in both IOS and Android game shop. According to the statistics from NetEase, over 200 million people has downloaded the game after the game releasing six months and Onmyoji, Pokemon Go and Clash Royale have won the title of the best game of 2016 which is awarded by Facebook. The game is currently available in Japan, and NetEase claims that they have the plan to bring Onmyoji to other Asian countries and western culture based countries.
An online community called Wang Yi Yin Yang Shi (NetEasw Onmyoji) Tieba (which means a forum in Chinese) has been established after the game released. Up to now, the forum has 1.74 million followers. Several different types of contents were created by gamers in the forum.
The first type of content is that the professional gamers or high-level gamers would publish some strategies for helping rookie players get more benefits from the game. The following picture is a senior gamer introducing battle array to new players to help them achieve a higher score. The note has been replied by 1751 times and not only the author publishes his/her thoughts about the team, but also other viewers would interact with the author and express their opinions. Hence, the participants of the discussion could be viewed as the users and the producers of the content.
The second type of content is about fan activities. The activities incorporate different ways. For instance, some of the players would write fictions for the game character according to their performances in the game. Some of them may redo the dubbing of the character or redesign the appetence of the character. Some of the notes will be marked by the viewers, and the author will become popular in the forum. Some of the designs are even forwarded by the NetEase official Weibo account (which can be considered as the Chinese version of Twitter) and the design officially becomes a part of this game.
The third type of content is about trading information. Some of the gamers might want to quit this game because of various reasons, but they did not want to quit for free. In this case, they will post their team and quote the price they want to get. People who either are interested in this game or are attracted by rare character will interact with the seller and created new content.
In the Onmyoji case, on the one hand, the UCC improves the quality of the game. The users help the developer create the new content for the game which makes this game more engage with their audiences. The trading information ensures that the number of gamers remains stable which increase the life of the game potentially.
On the other hand, the UCC brings some controversial issues as well. For instance, the game adopted some designs made by the gamers, but other gamers questioned about the privacy and the copyright issues. They argue that although the design is based on the game character, it does not mean that the design could be utilised for commercial. The line between the users and the publishers is ambiguous when the UCC has been used (Memarovic ,2015). Furthermore, the quality of the information which is relied on the UCC cannot be guaranteed. A lot of players complain that they have been deceived by the fake trading information which is created by the users. There is no method to get their money back because they do not know who the creator is.
How it related with our works:
The reason of analyzing fan-based online community is because I want our target audiences could be fans of our campaign and set up an online community which could be used to help us promoting the campaign. The case study clearly shows that the UCC is a feasible strategy to engage with the audiences. It brings people who have the same interests together and facilitates the establishment of the online community. I hope that the ‘Be the filter’ campaign could have its online community by using the UCC strategy. For instance, encouraging the audiences develop their skills about distinguishing fake news and share with their friends. I do not think that there will be fake information issue for the campaign because the aim of the campaign is not about the commercial. But the most important thing that needs to be contemplated is still the question about how to make our audiences become our fans.
There is no doubt that the UCC acts a pivotal part in fan-based online communities. It provides an opportunity to all the users interact with each other and created inspiring works. But the quality of the work needs to be reconsidered. Further study should contemplate how to improve the UCC quality and how to define the boundary between the users and the publishers.
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