After a rather grueling year, I am taking a self-enforced vacation from academia for a few days to recharge. But if you're not, there's a pretty interesting PDF of an MA thesis floating around — the subject is fan-producer interaction in relation to games, specifically Fallout. I've browsed through a bit of it, and I've liked what I've seen so far:
This study investigated how fans and producers of media texts negotiate text integrity, which is defined as an ideal about the validity, wholeness, and truth of the text. An evaluation of previous research in fan studies revealed four essential issues underlying fan-producer interaction. These four issues led to the study's four research questions, which centered on fan perceptions of ownership of a text, construction of status-relationship between fans and producers, construction of status-relationship among fans, and how fans envisioned their labor contribution to the game development process. Research questions were addressed using a discourse analysis of the forum interactions of fans of the digital-game series Fallout. The investigation focused on fan and producer interaction surrounding the release of the controversial next installment in the Fallout series, Fallout 3. Using previous literature and data gathered, the study proposed a model for fan-producer negotiation over text integrity that can be applied to fan-producer interaction in multiple contexts.
As noted at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, "Stay clear if you're the sort of person who thinks it's intrinsically funny if anyone calls a videogame a 'Text.'" Probably a wise consideration for many academic gaming works, but it's a thesis built on an interesting premise, and a hell of a lot shorter than a dissertation.