Author: copperfox10

Devil May Assume

Back in my post a few weeks ago, I tried to outline what I wanted to do for my individual autoethnographic project. As a quick refresher, it was to conduct a literary analysis into the impact of JRPG’s in the global gaming markets and coupling it with my personal game commentary, to be presented in video format.

I had already stated that my experience of JRPG’s was extremely limited, to Pokemon specifically, and that showed in my assumptions

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Individual Project: Press Start

Living in the age of the internet means that autoethnography is both increasing in importance as a research method (and also as simple personal reflection) and increasing in difficulty due to other cultures being readily available at the push of a button.

I want to take a look at the gaming genre of JRPGs, and see how much of the Japanese culture influences the game. Specifically I want to ask the question, “Does the game reflect Japanese socio-political issues that were prominent at the game’s launch?” This question will involve a bit of digging, as Japanese politics isn’t something that we hear much about in Australia. The only example in recent memory would be the brawl in the Japanese parliament when a bill to end the military pacifism enforced on them since the end of WWII was being signed- in to be debated.

The only game I have ever played which could be considered a JRPG would be Pokémon, which can arguably be said to have become accepted so much by Anglo/American culture that it’s not really considered foreign any more. I’m curious to see how other JRPG’s compare to roaming a strange country as a monster-collecting 10-year-old.

The group task that I’m currently working on has introduced me to the wonderful world of live-streaming, and so I had planned to try that out… Before I found out that the NBN had only just started being laid down in my area, and my current speeds are slower than a good number of developing African nations. (Thanks Telstra) So, it may be easier for me to simply record myself playing through games such as Devil May Cry 4, which is apparently a very challenging JRPG.

Analysis II: Autoethnograception

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Ignoring my attempt to resurrect a dead meme, in my last post, I didn’t cover the concept of autoethnography directly. I mainly did this because literally everyone else had and thought you the reader would be bored of reading the same definition 30+ times… But I still need to prove that I actually know what I’m on about, so here we are.
Autoethnography; being comprised of the words auto meaning “self”, ethno- meaning “culture” or “race”, and -graphy meaning “science” or “study”, is a form of qualitative research which arose in response to more empirical approaches to cultural study in the 1980’s. Empirical research attempt to bring a scientific objectivity to cultural studies, which many believed had “…ontological, epistemological, and axiological limitations.” (ELLIS & BOCHNER, 2000) Basically, lots of academics didn’t think empirical research accurately represented other cultures. The solution was to create a system of research which not only embraced subjectivity  in cultural studies, but harnessed it; and so autoethnographic research “…combines characteristics of autobiography and ethnography” (Ellis et al. 2011) by having the writer subject themselves to another culture so as to record and analyse their experience.

Brace yourself, I’m about to get really meta here, because I’m going to be analysing my  analysis from my last post. What I attempted in my previous entry, Joining the Autoethnographic Swarm,  was to perform an autoethnological analysis on my reactions to the documentary “State of Play”, looking at the South Korean professional StarCraft scene, which for me was a bit of a challenge. Having been exposed to Asian (particularly Japanese) media previously and being a gamer in what little spare time Uni affords me, it is difficult to find “interesting” opinions to write about competitive gaming because it’s not an entirely new concept to me. This was why I tried to focus more on the differences between how South Korean and Australian cultures respectively treat gaming, in particular competitive gaming;  with some thought, picking apart my cultural biases towards the documentary could be accomplished, with a few examples from my personal experiences while gaming to help contextualise my thought process and opinions.

After doing some more reading, the decisions and attitudes of the subjects in the documentary make a lot more sense. There is a decent amount of money in pro-gaming, making it a legitimate career path for young people in South Korea, mainly coming from corporate sponsorship. In 2012, the Business Insider published an article using several sources itself to verify the earnings of top StarCraft II players, with the top 10 making 3 figures in the image they provide. It’s a growing entertainment industry and Asian companies are well aware of it’s potential, though Western-based companies outside gaming may be slow to adopt a similar approach, possibly due to the reasons I went over in my previous article.

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Team Natus Vincere having won the DOTA2 International 2011.

Adoption by a female demographic seemed to be a common thread that came out from everyone’s blog posts on the documentary as well. It turns out that there have in fact been female-only tournaments in South Korean StarCraft since at least 2003 according to Liquipedia, as well as mixed teams emerging after the release of StarCraft II. Why this was not covered by the documentary, I’m unsure; it does lead me to think however that while there is a gender-gap in professional gaming, it may not be as stark as the documentary (perhaps inadvertently) suggested.

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Seo “ToSsGirl” Ji Soo, professional StarCraft player from 2001-2012.

Just goes to show that you can’t always judge by appearances I suppose. So, in conclusion, while my initial comments on the differences between Australian and South Korean approaches to professional gaming were not entirely inaccurate, further reading shows that my views on the decisions of Korean players and the apparent gender-gap in professional e-sports were definitely skewed, most likely by the mindset I’ve derived from my cultural background in Australia.

What was your experience after hearing about all of this? While you think about it, here’s something to listen to. This one is much more slow and mellow, from a really good 4x game that I enjoy. Enjoy!

Image 1: http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/94/94320b66f76bba47a855b2fbdc220c873425d12d0606779ab1ede681dbe93515.jpg

Image 2: http://media.steampowered.com/apps/dota2/posts/champions_navi.jpg

Image 3: http://www.gameguyz.com/sites/default/files/news/XINGJI_0.jpg

 

 

 

 

Joining the Autoethnographic Swarm

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DIGC330 students before the weekly deadline.

I am a gamer. Personally, I’m fond of strategy games (RTS and 4X), but I also dabble in RPGs, in particular stealth-based RPGs, as well as MOBAs and MMOs. I have been a gamer since I was a young boy, getting ruthless beatings from my Dad… in the original Age of Empires.

Despite my fascination with tapping my fingers to build up my defenses against the tyrannical, warmongering Gandhi, and occasionally kick armor-clad Italians off the rooftops of Rome, I hadn’t really considered that one could be paid or achieve fame by doing so… until my younger brother showed me the team he was following for League of Legends, The Chiefs. However throughout much of Asia, particularly South Korea, “professional gamer” is at the time of writing a well-established and accepted occupation. State of Play is a documentary dealing with just that, South Korean professional gamers, particularly StarCraft players. Special focus is given to the Zerg player who won 6 premier titles and currently plays StarCraft II for the team Evil Geniouses, Lee Jae Dong.

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Lee Jae Dong

Having been exposed to the concepts of RTS games and professional gaming previously, I was already somewhat familiar with the game footage shown, the team uniforms and the prize-pool sizes. None of these were surprising because of my previous experience, though the seriousness with which it was taken by the subjects of the documentary was unexpected. Professional gaming from my cultural perspective feels as though it’s more akin to an extra-curricular activity than a true profession. While you’d like your local or preferred team to succeed, the impact of failure is downplayed; losing a gaming tournament is likened to coming tenth at the school athletics carnival, not to failing a qualification for Rio 2016. The loyalty to a team or player appeared far less trivial as well. When my younger brother tried to explain how he felt about the Chief’s ADC Raydere switching teams, it seemed like he was talking about a class mate who was changing schools; but Jaedong’s fans could more easily be compared to the girls who swoon over Benedict Cumberbatch. Considering the time and effort that goes into organising and practicing for these tournaments, I suppose it’s only appropriate that they get recognition for it. When I play, I can do so for quite a length of time, but practicing the same game for 10-12 hours per day sounds to me more like a recipe for RSI than a fun day at home. The phrase “it’s just a game” springs to mind, as it often came up whenever my parents wanted me to stop littering the bodies of Spartan soldiers across the Halo Reach multiplayer maps. Perhaps this is a symptom of a more rigid definition of success in Australian/Western culture, or perhaps a greater separation between the concepts of work and play, which according to what appeared to be an organiser for the StarCraft tournaments in South Korea, are being blurred by this new entertainment industry.

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This phrase just sprang to mind as I was writing, make of it what you will.

One thing that isn’t being blurred, as many of my classmates pointed out at the end of the viewing, is that gaming is very much a male-dominated occupation. All of the women shown in the documentary were either relatives or fans of the players, with the exception of a commentator with a very effeminate voice (you never see them, so I’m hesitant to say whether it was really a man or woman). I confess, I’d never really noticed it before, but now that I think about it, I do know of plenty of female streamers, YouTube content creators and cosplayers; but I cannot name a single female professional gamer of the top of my head. Perhaps what we have in common with the South Korean e-sports industry is that sports are seen as more masculine professions, or perhaps that video-games are seen as a more masculine pass-time by Australian culture, both of these explanations make sense to me. It could also be that women are made uneasy about professional gaming what with all the controversy around #Gamergate in 2014, which quickly switched focus from journalistic professionalism in game reviews to misogyny in the gaming community.

All-in-all, it was a very thought-provoking experience to watch the State of Play documentary, and see just how much my cultural background and experiences affects my perception of professional gaming in South Korea, and even here in Australia. What did you think of all of this? Should e-sports be more accepted in Western cultures? Could it be a stage for men and women to compete against each other in future, or will it forever be a man’s sport? Feel free to comment! In the mean-time, here’s some music for you, enjoy!

 

Image 1:http://giphy.com/gifs/blizzard-ent-starcraft-2-zerg-rush-26BRtn3tIrznhRhwQ

Image 2: http://www.q-avenue.com/video-gaming-superstars/

Image 3: http://blog.neosperience.com/hs-fs/hub/411533/file-1555579613-jpg/All_Play_and_No_Work_Makes_Jack_a_Zippy_Boy.jpg