Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Spread Dread

Posted by Sean Hull on January 25, 2017

As a newcomer to the field of popular culture studies, the introductory reading from Spreadable Media has introduced me to some new ideas, with the conflict between stickiness and spreadability being particularly interesting. Is it harmful for corporations to prefer stickiness over spreadability, or are are there cases where action against the spreading of media is justified?

I am curious about this due to the behavior of video game giant Nintendo: known for producing classic games such as Mario and Pokémon, it has become infamous for its action against fan-produced games based on its existing IPs. According to Ars Technica, Nintendo issued a DMCA takedown request against online game distributor Game Jolt in September 2016, due to its catalog including free games which made use of Nintendo’s IP. This DMCA request resulted in Game Jolt removing over 500 fan-made Nintendo-inspired games from public accessibility. Less than a month before this, Nintendo had also filed a DMCA action against AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake) for similar reasons. This fan remake of Metroid 2 had been made available in August 2016, and was apparently viewed as great enough of a threat to Nintendo’s IP to merit destruction less than a month after its first public release.

Is this a reasonable response on Nintendo’s part to abuse of their IP? Fan projects such as AM2R do offer individuals unwilling to pay for an official copy of Metroid 2 a means of experiencing a similar game for free, and as such could be viewed as harming Nintendo’s ability to make a profit, but if this strict control over the adaptation of Nintendo’s IP prevents said IP from being introduced to potential new audiences, and from being fully enjoyed by its existing fan base, is it a wise decision? I can understand legal action against individuals who try and profit from Nintendo’s IP, but in the cases cited above all Nintendo’s action serves to do is show that Nintendo prefers strict control over fan interaction with their product.

Ultimately this issue may be only tangentially related to the concept of stickiness versus spreadability. The media being spread and adapted in the above example is intellectual property, not a specific product, and as such the terminology of stickiness and spreadability may not be appropriate. However, over the course of this class I hope that, if I am incorrectly addressing this issue here, that I will be able to do so more carefully in later lessons, with a better eye for the proper terms to be used.





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