This paper introduces an emerging form of participatory culture, one that is not a modification or elaboration of a primary producer’s content. Instead, this paper details how the artifacts created to ‘play’ a primary producer’s content has become the primary work for massive global audiences. This phenomenon is observed in the genre of alternate reality games (ARGs) and is illustrated through a theory of ‘tiering’. Tiers provide separate content to different audiences. ARG designers tier their projects, targeting different players with different content. ARG player-production then creates another tier for non-playing audiences. To explicate this point, the features that provoke player-production — producer-tiering, ARG aesthetics and transmedia fragmentation — are interrogated, alongside the character of the subsequent player-production. Finally, I explore the aspects of the player-created tiers that attract massive audiences, and then posit what these observations may indicate about contemporary artforms and society in general.
(2008) ‘Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games‘, Henry Jenkins and Mark Deuze (Eds) special issue on ‘Convergence Culture’ in Convergence Journal: International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Vol 14, No 1, pp: 41-57.