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“So, machinima is really a genre, and not a medium?”

The students in my Digital Media and Rhetoric course are grappling with both how to define machinima and how to evaluate whether one is “good” or not. I frustrate them by refusing to provide a definitive answer to this and other similar questions they have asked about the form. This intentional frustration continues as, after watching a few examples they ask me what grade I would give those machinima, if they were turned in for this assignment. Rather than providing a simple answer I redirect, asking them what criteria they would use to evaluate machinima and how the examples we’ve seen in class stand up to this scrutiny. At the beginning of this particular unit, when I announced that we wouldn’t be writing another research paper, they were exuberant. Now, however, the complexity of the task before them is slowly unveiling itself. While a majority of these students are gamers, few of them have experience in video production. None of them have previously looked at fan culture as a source of meaning and knowledge production. We are in unfamiliar territory, and they are getting restless.


This is a chapter in Play/Write: Digital Rhetoric, Writing, Games, edited by Douglas Eyman and Andréa D. Davis. © 2016 by Parlor Press:

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