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Feature: 'Shaping Your Community - What Films Did, Games Must Do'

Can you capture the fervor of your fanbase? With The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Peter Jackson did so to great effect, and Gamasutra looks at how Bungie's Halo 3 and Sony's PlayStation Blog are harnessing the same power - to give people "relati
The game industry has always been supported by enthusiastic communities of gamers. However, the relationship between development teams and the gaming public is often typified by either reticence or tension. In this Gamasutra-exclusive feature, Andy Robertson examines the films achieved against-the-odds success with a devoted fanbase by capitalizing on the enthusiasm of their audiences. For example, Robertson looks at Peter Jackson's unusual communication with fans during the development of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy: "Jackson and his staff delivered blog-style entries dating back to the beginnings of their project that shared every aspect of the process from casting and location hunting to script writing and editing. Jackson himself took time during the busy filming schedule to record audio entries that answered questions from a variety of fan sites. One such site, TheOneRing.net, was particularly positive about the process: 'Evidence suggests that the three films are being done slowly and with great care.' Other sites such as RingBearer.com instantly took to Jackson's accessible and open approach, with an AintItCoolNews.com poster remarking, 'I really have enjoyed this little experiment of Peter's, and I'm sure that most of you out there would agree we should do it again.'" But how can it work for games? For one example, Robertson looks to Bungie, and some changes that resulted from the move of Halo fan Luke Smith from an editorial role at 1UP to the position of content editor at Bungie, placing him in a position to increase the studio's transparency to players: "Bungie now has a main tab of its website devoted to community; furthermore, this space makes clear how important this is for Bungie. The site describes the community area as somewhere you can go for 'the latest news' and to tap into 'the broader family of Bungie fan community sites all across the internet'. Furthermore, Bungie has even adopted the fan group The 7th Column as its official Halo fan club." You can now read the complete Gamasutra feature on the subject, which explains the occasional "teething problems" with Bungie's approach - and focuses on the PlayStation Blog as an example of how further transparency can not only capitalize on positive fan sentiments, but can also help turn around negative ones (no reg. required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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