Friday, October 13, 2006

The Long Tail

I had the pleasure of attending Chris Anderson's inaugral appearance in Second Life this afternoon. The interview was conducted by none-other than Hamlet Au (formerly Hamlet Linden) who was sharp and progressed with a natural course of questioning. Chris gave great answers and was very amicable. Overall I found it to be thought-provoking and quite impressive.

However, the long-tail didn't end at the event. I raised the idea of a fan-made game to the Cave Story community recently. The discussion I found, had much to do with the long-tail in media: the democratization of tools for the production of video games, like music and movies, is becoming more accessible to everyone on the Internet. Sites like YouTube allow people to upload their own media and much of this media reflects the media we as people in this media-centered age consume. The pattern follows the long tail into niches where fan-made media is generally consumed. Star Wars spawned fan-made films to continue the story and expand the universe... it appears to me that people are accepting and integrating the media they consume into a personal mythos.

IMO, it's only natural that games will be much the same way.

However, acceptance of the idea within the Cave Story community has been quite poor. While some people have been supportive with ideas on how it could be done, others are far more derogatory. It seems to have incited "holier than thou" reactions from more than just a few individuals. They believe that a fan-game is un-original and therefore not acceptable... or something. I honestly don't understand it.

The question still remains: how are or how should derivative works be handled in the video games universe? Would you get sued for creating your own version of Metroid? Could you commercially distribute a game you made with cameos of characters from other games? For fans who wish there was a sequel despite the author never intending to make one -- if they had permission, does it matter who made the game? This happens in commercial sequels all the time. Why not fan-made sequels or prequels?

I'm curious. Sue me.


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