Infiltrating an eTribe: Marketing to the Machinima [computerised games] community.
Whilst recent literature on social networking theory has tended to concentrate on ‘brand communities’ (e.g. Cova et al., 2007) and off-line tribal behaviour (e.g. Moutinho et al., 2007), there is relatively sparse literature on online or internet based tribal marketing contexts using second generation web technologies. Drawing on the social psychology literature and in particular, the self and social identification and tribal marketing literature, this paper explores the concept of tribalism and tribal marketing within one such net based community. Machinima is the making of 3D animated films using computerised games engines in real time. The term is derived from a combination of the words ‘machine’ and ‘cinema’ (Hancock and Ingram, 2007). The making of films using Machinima techniques requires artistic skill in development of storylines, scenes and scripts; a deep knowledge of computer games engines and often, an ability to engage in collaborations with other players in order to create works. Using a mixed method qualitative research design, this paper reports on a study which investigates the nature and characteristics of the ‘Machinima community’ and the reactions of its members to attempts by commercially motivated individuals and organisations to market products to it. Findings suggest the Machinima community exhibits many of the features of a tribal based community but in an on-line environment which is informed by the media and the message. Commercial organisations appear sensitive to the values of the community and their marketing activities may be described as both ‘covert and collusive’ insofar as tribal ‘leaders’ are involved in or recruited to help ‘co-develop tribal experiences’ through the development of software, which in turn can drive community evolution. Where this is successful, tribal members collaborate and become critical informants to the community. The implications of these findings suggest organisations will need to consider more subtle and sophisticated marketing activities within some e-contexts than have been used in more traditional offline contexts if they are to be successful.
Citation:Harwood, T. and Garry, T. (2009) Infiltrating an eTribe: Marketing to the Machinima [computerised games] community., Journal of Customer Behaviour, 8 (1), pp. 67-84.
Research Group:Institute of Creative Technologies
- Leicester Media School