I can't remember now if I was academically interested in User Generated Content before or after I started toying with Game Maker, but I have always seen it as an amateur pursuit that gives me access (and hopefully insight) into something I see as being more and more significant to commercial games. I have played around with Unreal, toyed with machinima, modded NeverWinter Nights (remade as Lilliput just by scaling -- much fun), and recently messed around inside Spore and now Little Big Planet, but I suppose my little experiments with Game Maker have been the closest thing to really making games. At some point I must write the article that all this is supposed to be informing, of course.
But sometimes it is just nice being inside the community. I missed it when it first came out, but there is a lovely little review of Pinball Panda in a community online magazine called GM Weekly (site here, issue with review here. I really like the concluding line: "a perfect casual game". Therefore am I happy. :)