In this sense, therefore, the informal practices of fan culture appear uniquely compatible with a free and open culture in which participation in the processes of creation is unhindered by institutional or legal means.

More recent research into fan practice—particularly in relation to gaming—has nevertheless complicated the strict boundaries this “folk” imagery implies between fan and corporate production in a digital age. (…) Fans have thus been repeatedly conceptualized as the vanguard of new economies based in open, participatory cultural production.

But the fan-programmers behind Dominion War—just like those behind Gundam Century, Open Rebellion, and others—embraced hierarchy, closure, and proprietary creativity at the same time as they experimented with production logics outside of copyright control. As a case study, Dominion War complicates this equation of fan practice with free culture by pointing to negotiated transitions between closed commodity culture and open, peer-to-peer collaboration. While this TC did bear potential for ongoing, collectively intelligent cultural production, it also operated by upholding corporate hierarchies, privatized ownership, and monopolies of culture that thwarted the processual realization of that potential.

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