Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A grounded legal study of the breakdown of modders' relationships with game companies or legal threats shake moral beds
by Altizer, Roger Alan, Jr., Ph.D., The University of Utah, 2013, 205; 3563390
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation utilizes law and society research, as well as communication advocacy, to frame analysis and offer an extra-legal solution to conflicts between modders, fans who create new content from existing videogames, and game companies. It utilizes grounded theory and the traditional legal adversarial documentary method to abstract and analyze conflict caused by a cease and desist (C&D) letter sent to Kajar Laboratories concerning Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes – Kajar's mod to Square Enix's Chrono Trigger. Through qualitative analysis of websites, forum posts, and blog comments about the C&D this dissertation discovers the grounded theory Legal Threats Break Moral Communities. Utilizing the grounded theory and legal argumentation a critique is made of proposed legal solutions. A nonlegal solution to ameliorate future conflict is then suggested as a means to satisfy both the needs of modders and game companies.

In analyzing the conflict this dissertation illustrates how the threat of law stops modders, disrupts the community, and chills future mods. This dissertation reinforces a regulatory understanding of copyright law arguing limited monopolies on intellectual property serve to advance the arts and sciences. Modding, like many forms of participatory culture, promotes valuable science, technology, engineering, and math through self-learning. Mods promote the original games while also generating new art. The dissertation also shows that both regulatory and proprietary interpretations of copyright law benefit from modding.

Through critique of status quo solutions and analysis of a Microsoft exemplar this dissertation suggests a generic game content usage guide as an extra-legal, feasible solution that advances the goals of all parties involved without requiring legal intervention.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vergobbi, David J.
Commitee: Kessler, Robert R., Pierce, Joy Y., Postigo, Hector, Yaros, Ronald A.
School: The University of Utah
Department: Communication
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: DAI-A 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Organization Theory, Web Studies, Mass communications
Keywords: Cease and desist, Chilling effect, Grounded theory, Legal threats, Modding, Participatory culture, Video games
Publication Number: 3563390
ISBN: 9781303116773
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