This paper offers an ethnographic account of participatory culture in the new media environment by describing an encounter with a virtual object: a 3D model of a steam locomotive designed to function within Trainz, a virtual railroad simulation. The encounter entangles us in the rapidly changing relationship between media consumers/fans and media producers in new media technologies, and foregrounds a transformation in the dynamics of cultural participation. These emerging dynamics demand that we rethink the relations between producers, consumers and media technologies. For example, are our understandings of fan culture as a choice between resistance to and cooptation by commercial imperatives enough to navigate these cultural networks? How do we respond to these fascinating objects? I argue that participatory culture is an event that is made and that we are responsible for our collusions in these enactments.
This is the abstract from John A. L. Banks paper Negotiating Participatory Culture in the New Media Environment: Auran and the Trainz Online Community – An (Im)possible Relation (pdf)