Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Joel Iverson


University of Montana


This study examines Valve Corporation’s Steam gaming forum to understand how members constitute meaning and overcome perceived system abuses. By going outside the system, into what could be called the meta-system, users augment their power within a Steam’s structure where they are in a lower power position. Using qualitative analysis and structurating activity theory as a sensemaking mechanism, two incidents involving developer-user conflict were analyzed. The examination found how users were incorporating outside systems into Steam to create a system network they could use against developers. Also, several instances of systemic contradiction were found and defined. This paper expands upon structurating activity theory and gives indications for future research.



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