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Post-Industrial Design for Consumption: discovery and invention of “tribes”

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While the role of users and consumers in various “consumer tribes” has begun
to be mapped in research, open research questions remain. These include
whether or how designers or management executives ought to be a member
of a consumer tribe that has formed around their product or service.
Reporting on our study of consumer tribes in on-line games played on mobile
phones, tablets, and PCs, we ask: (1) To what extent does it make sense for
an on-line-game designer or executive to be a member of the on-line-game
consumer tribe around their game? (2) If membership in the consumer tribe
makes sense, what kind of a role or roles ought the designer or executive
take? We draw on earlier research in the sociology and anthropology of
marketing, on the one hand, and game design, on the other hand. A tribe or
its (near-)equivalent can exist in a primordial sense, in an industrial and
modern sense, or in a post-modern sense. We analyze three cases of a
consumer tribe around a game, the nature of the tribe, and kinds of design
and execution: “Minecraft” by Mojang, “Angry Birds” by Rovio
Entertainment, and “Clash of Clans” by Supercell. We find that membership in
each of the consumer tribes in question makes sense, with roles such as
user/consumer, designer, and executive. Yet, roles differ from case and kind
of tribe to another, as well as between designer and executive. Each designer
or executive successfully takes on no more than two roles at once in her tribe.
We call for further research on tribes and communities, especially on
consumer tribes in on-line games.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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