Participating in the Visual: An Exploratory Study of Fanart Communities in the World of Warcraft

Open Access
Colibraro, Michael J
Graduate Program:
Information Sciences and Technology
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
November 06, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Andrea H Tapia, Thesis Advisor
  • fan communities
  • fan-generated artwork
As fan culture becomes increasingly mainstream, it falls to researchers to diversify the ways that they approach it. This research aims to uncover the relationships between fan-generated artwork and in-game and out-of-game communities in World of Warcraft. Much current research into fan culture focuses on the community interactions. Though it mentions fan-generated content, it is rare to find more than a passing mention of fanart and its potential roles within these communities. The study takes a qualitative & interpretive point of view in order to establish the reasons that players create and consume artwork. Through a combination of text analysis, surveys, and interviews this research is intended to provide a broad understanding of players’ general knowledge and feelings about fanart as well as how and why fanart affects the World of Warcraft community.