Week 4

The Original Alienation

I opened my previous post by announcing my non-gamer status. From the beginning, I was already subconsciously distancing myself from the text, its characters and the professional gaming culture. I positioned myself as an alien.

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Little alien me writing little alien notes. (source)

“I’m no gamer”

My greatest assumption about the gaming documentary was the kind of content I was expecting. Despite not having watched a gaming doco prior (or at least not according to memory), the thought that I couldn’t be entertained by the sight of people ‘playing’ at a computer was like a self-imposed barrier to the ethnographic experience. I thought, “How am I going to associate with this plot and empathise with its characters?”

I have no aversion to gaming. It’s just something I haven’t partaken in to any significant degree, unless we wanna count Club Penguin.

Anderson (2006) gives 3 criteria for a researcher to effectively undergo analytic autoethnography:

  1. The researcher is a full member in the research setting
  2. The researcher is visible as a member in the research setting
  3. The researcher is committed to an analytic research agenda of improving theoretical understandings of broader analytic autoethnography (p. 375)

I did/do not fit Anderson’s number 1 criteria, which cancelled out the rest. Were my analytical capabilities hindered by my non-‘CMR’ (Complete Member Researcher) status within any level of gaming culture? I’m convinced that if I had even known of someone deeply involved in gaming culture, my non-participant observer’s impression of the film from its introduction would have been positively different.

“That one uncle”

I then realised that ‘State of Play’ was less about games and more about gamers. My slight disinterest was gradually replaced with engagement in understanding the lives of particular characters.

Scenes which involved dialogue with gamers’ family members were moments I reacted to with most empathy. They were scenes which revealed doubts and hesitations about young peoples’ goals and desires. It might be because I am aware of stereotypical Asian parenting attitudes. These are relatively conservative values about family, gender roles and career choices. Maybe I’m wrong to see this from a racial lens, for I’m well aware that these experiences of cultural familial conflict aren’t exclusive to Asian people.

The thing is, autoethnography is about acknowledging and embracing those lenses – racial, gendered, etc.

My growing empathy for the people observed is a core objective of autoethnography. It is a foundation to understanding my own longings and belongings as I connect personal and cultural contexts to my research (Alsop, 2002). Those desires and values I initially expressed were of individualism in particular. I consider its origins the ‘traditionally Asian’ aspects of my upbringing in a Western society that challenged those traditions. I understand the personal conflicts experienced by the film’s characters via the cultural conflicts of my own.

Without the empathy I gradually gained for the film’s subjects, there’d have been less room for my perspectives about eSports athleticism to change, and otherwise, according to Alsop, I’d be measuring the eSports culture against my own inner compass, without “self-reflexivity” (p. 7).

 

References

Alsop, CK 2002, ‘Home and Away: Self Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research, vol. 3, no. 3, <http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~kmacd/IDSC10/Readings/Positionality/auto-eth.pdf&gt;.

Anderson, L 2006, ‘Analytic Autoethnography’, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 373-393.

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The Art of Autoethnography: Part II

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Part II- Autoethnography: A Further Reflection

In my last post I made a number of observations in regard to the 1954 Japanese film Godzilla/Gojira. My main observation that I had was that I did not find myself engrossed in the film given the educational setting. In this blog post some of the other observations made will be looked at further in an auto ethnographic context.

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Two observations made during the course of the film related to the display or lack of display made by the characters.

Constant shadows make it hard to see the emotions displayed of the characters faces.

Little emotion is shown by the characters when announcing the deaths of the soldiers. They are stone cold statues.

These observations are made from the view point of a 21 year Australian woman. Australians tend to be relatively open with their emotions and this is expressed in western cinema. Western actors display emotions through their body language and their facial expressions. The way that I interpret the displays of emotion in this film is very different to the way that a Japanese person interprets its.

‘Cultural contexts also act as cues when people are trying to interpret facial expressions. This means that different cultures may interpret the same social context in very different ways’ (Boundless Psychology, 2016)

This understanding of culture changes the way that I reflect upon my auto ethnographic research. Further literature research puts these observations into context. Not only does culture impact the way that we display emotion but it also impacts the way that we perceive and interpret emotion too. With this understanding, cultural nuances must be looked at. An article posted on the Association for Psychological Science titled Perception of Emotion Is Cultural-Specific (2010) describes Japanese displays of emotion. Emotion is more evident through tone of voice than through facial expressions in Japanese cultural.

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What this reflection makes clear is the process of autoethnography. Ellis et. al. (2011) made clear in their text Autoethnography: An Overview is the importance of the elements of methodological tools, literature research and personal experience. It is now clear to me the importance of that literature research in informing your personal experience, without this understanding, the research lacks substance and perspective.

Reference List

Boundless.com. (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.boundless.com/psychology/textbooks/boundless-psychology-textbook/emotion-13/influence-of-culture-on-emotion-411/influence-of-culture-on-emotion-263-12798/ [Accessed 1 Sep. 2016].

Ellis, C., Adams, T. and Bochner, A. (2011). Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, [online] 12(1). Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 [Accessed 30 Jul. 2016].

Psychologicalscience.org. (2016). Perception of Emotion Is Culture-Specific – Association for Psychological Science. [online] Available at: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/perception-of-emotion-is-culture-specific.html [Accessed 1 Sep. 2016].

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A Contextualised Note To Self – Who Said Professional Gamers Should Get A “Real” Job?

In my blog post from a few weeks ago, I introduced the concept and method of auto-ethnography and recorded my first encounter with the documentary State of Play (2013). This post will take my autoethnographic account one step further in interpreting and analysing my initial thoughts, assumptions and reactions to decipher their wider social and cultural meanings.

Autoethnography is based on the idea of experiencing “epiphanies” which are self-claimed liminal moments of clarity and emotional intensity perceived to have significantly impacted the trajectory of a person’s life (Ellis et al. 2011, p.2). When researchers conduct autoethnography, they retrospectively attempt to contextualise and make sense of these epiphanies by engaging in a critical dialogue with culture, history and social structure (Denzin 2016, p.131).

Epiphanies Epiphanies

In my first viewing of State of Play, I was surprised to discover that video gaming is an official profession in South Korea. This was an…

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Unlucky In Love

About a month ago, now, I endured the original Japanese film, Gojira, which made me both overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. As revealed in my previous post, I took this feeling to be love. Gojira and I had a good run, but our honeymoon phase is over. We’re breaking up. It’s best for both of us. I’m having a love affair with Japanese horror films, but I won’t talk about that now.

As the true-blue cultural outsider that I am, I noted in my last post about how different 1950’s Japanese couples were from the modern Australian couples I was used to seeing, especially in terms of the character’s lack of physical contact in the film. I figured I should give it some more background info. Australia has a Christianity-based “guilt culture”, which is ruled by internal moral standards, whereas Japan has a “shame culture”, meaning it is ruled by external moral standards. There are many potential reasons for this, including linguistic, governmental, and multicultural theories. I’ve yet to really decide if this theory promotes the idea of the ‘other’ a bit too much for my liking, but you can read more about it here if you feel so inclined.

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The Japanese term for the touchy-feely behaviour I’m talking about is Icha Icha. It can mean anything from a peck on the cheek to wild sex. It’s got the same kind of ambiguity there is in English when a friend says they ‘hooked up’ with someone and you don’t really know what courteous ‘ohh’ sound you’re meant to make in response.

Basically, Japan relies on social shame and disapproving glares to make sure everyone keeps their hands to themselves. At first I thought that it was a bit like in primary school where we were all yelled at not to touch each other, and then I thought that it would make people repress their emotions and that can’t be healthy. Then I had a bit of a mini epiphany like, ‘actually, who the hell am I to decide what is or isn’t healthy??? I have no background in cultural studies or psychology. Maybe I should shut up and be a bit more accepting.’ And then I was like ‘wait, I’ve gone off topic again.’

To properly and concisely revisit my thoughts on the couple I thought was ‘weird and detached’ (a line which I didn’t really want to share online at first in fear of being pegged a racist): I’ve discovered that Japan still considers it taboo for couples to have public displays of affection, but they aren’t against hand-holding anymore, which they used to be in the 1950’s. I’ve thought about this a lot over the past week, and I’ve decided that a) this difference isn’t even a bad thing, it is just a thing, and b) maybe Australians should take note because I wanted to evaporate in a lift yesterday when a couple started making out next to me.

Here is somewhere else to look at info on couple etiquette in Japanese culture – again, it’s a bit of US, THE NORMAL ONES vs. JAPAN THE ALIENS, but with the website name being ‘Outsider Japan’, what can you really expect? It’s interesting, just be wary of the language used. This site is also very interesting with much less of an US and THEM mentality.

In my last post, I did talk about the character archetypes I noticed, but I won’t mention them here. They will appear in a later post when I talk about female representation and character archetypes in Japanese horror films. It’s going to be a shocker.

I’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom: a bit of classic Australian ignorance can be somewhat cleared up by autoethnographic research, especially with the help of Ellis et al.

 

Godzilla Revisited

Here we are, almost 2 weeks later, and I’m only just writing this post. Delayed due dates mean delayed writing, in typical uni student fashion.

I’m quite enjoying the auto ethnographic studies, it’s a nice change to look at cultures and perceptions instead of graphics and advertisement as most of my other classes are. While reading a few of these other blogs, it’s really been interesting to see the differences in reactions between individuals to the texts we’ve looked at, and especially interesting for me to see people respond to the State of Play documentary, as that’s something I’m far more familiar with, and not a lot of things in that were something that were unheard of to me, nor were they unfamiliar, so choosing to do Godzilla was probably a wise move for me.

Looking back at the points I made about Godzilla in the original post, I’ve gone and found some answers to my randomly thought up questions and interesting things I noticed while watching it for the first time.

 

Love Triangle: okay so not actually a lot to explain here, that was more just an observation in general instead of a cultural question mark. Same goes for the woman screaming, I’ve made this re-evaluation kind of challenging for myself by pointing out some general things instead of cultural things but oh well.

The last point I had in mine was about no women being present anywhere near Godzilla, and while that is a testament of the time as I pointed out, it is also very relevant to Japan and many asian countries, where the traditions of females being domestic and males being military, or working men almost still stands to this day. It would be absolutely unheard of for women to have anything to do with the military back in the year that Godzilla was made, which explains that.

As for my main ‘Huh?’ moment in the movie: The sideways map.

Luckily Chris has almost already answered that one for me, in that the sideways map was more or less Japan’s way of ‘un-Westernising’ themselves. The map of the world, as it is, is obviously of Western construction, and while accurate, it does more or less place these ‘Western’ worlds as the center of the earth, with all the other countries, such as those of Asian orientation, in a dimmer light.

The sideways map was a way of reimagining the map from an Eastern perspective, and while it’s still essentially the same map, it’s THEIR map.

In Retrospect: Autoethnography & State of Play

It was only a few weeks ago that I attempted to expand my horizons and experience Korean gaming culture with a set of fresh eyes. This autoethnographic experience was enlightening, and brought my attention to the fact that I was ultimately an outsider when it came to eSports, gaming and Lee Jae Dong. Despite this, here I am, trying to make sense of my initial assumptions and interpretations of my State of Play experience (which you can read about here).

As aforementioned, autoethnography as a methodology aims to “facilitate the understanding of a culture for insiders and outsiders”, drawing on “subjectivity, emotionality and the researcher’s influence on research” (Ellis, Adams and Bochner). Reflecting on one’s experience of a cultural phenomenon can be insightful and explorative. It not only highlights “dominant narratives” and “ways of thinking” about culture but seeks to understand such experiences on a larger cultural scale (Warren, 2009).  In my first auto ethnographic account of State of Play, I made several cultural assumptions and addressed ‘dominant narratives’ I felt were essential in the documentary. Re-examining my initial interpretation, and by conducting a little more research, I have once again become a more culturally aware individual. Read on, and you can be too.

After watching State of Play, I was admittedly astonished that gamers in Korea had such celebrity status and were afforded with privileges similar to those of professional sports players. Little did I know that gamers around the world, — not just in Korea, — earn millions when they put their skills to the test. “DoTA has actually gone on to host the largest tournament prize pool, with nearly $11 million for their 2014 International. That’s a larger prize pool than the Masters Golf Tournament” (Aaron, 2015). The above graph highlights this. Furthermore, gaming tournaments attract global sponsors and intrigue audiences in the millions — eSports are now broadcast on networks like ESPN, making them accessible to all. Gamers make similar commitments and moreover share in the sacrifices that other professional sports players make to create a career. By reducing these individuals to “just gamers” in my first experience I failed to understand the deeper meaning behind gaming culture.

After scrolling through more ‘research’, I became acutely aware that whilst there were no females battling for the tournament prize pool in State of Play, female gamers do exist. “According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 44% of all gamers in the U.S. today are female” (Gaudiosi, 2015). Perhaps most notably, “one of the great things about eSports is it’s one arena where there is no difference between men and women; they’re both equal in the game” (Gaudiosi, 2015). Just because the representation of women in State of Play was skewed, that doesn’t mean that women are missing from the global gaming ‘narrative’. Another cultural assumption bites the dust.

Autoethnography requires one to be self-reflexive and open in order to understand a cultural experience. By drawing on additional information from scholarly sources, media articles and social commentary my experience and understanding of Korean gaming culture has reached a new high. Adding layers of information onto my autoethnographic account of State of Play has shifted my perspective on eSports and the Korean gaming phenomenon dramatically.


References:

Aaron, J., 2015, ‘The Controversial Dichotomy Between Sports and eSports’, The Huffington Post, Article, 19 April, viewed 29 August 2016

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P., 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1.

Gaudiosi, J., 2015, ‘This Company Wants More Women in eSports’, Fortune, Article, 17 November, viewed 29 August 2016

Warren, J.T., 2009, ‘Autoethnography’ in Encyclopaedia of Communication Theory, SAGE Publications, p.68-69.

Reconnecting with State of Play

Re-examining ‘State of Play’ and looking through others blogs, I realised that a lot of people were unaware of e-sports and were surprised about many of the culture’s aspects, including myself. Before this encounter, I understood the addictive aspect of online gaming but never considered it as an actual competitive sport that was recognised with its own leagues. Watching the documentary opened up curiosities to e-sports and the obsessive, competitive nature. Describing my autoethnographic experience watching State of Play, I was able to link certain Korean cultural aspects that I was aware of and understood due to my own experiences and knowledge about the culture such as training groups, dormitories and the fan culture.

South Korea is the leading country in E-sports and as identified here– there is a simple reason for it. I guess you can agree that the strict training systems in Korea that may be surprising to us, in Western cultures can actually be beneficial. This reddit user believes that dorms only brings further improvement by players being surrounded by other pro-gamers and be completely absorbed in gaming. It’s mainly a cultural difference to western cultures where eastern cultures are focused on specialisation- thus the extensive, hardworking schedules apparent in State of Play is somewhat expected out of pro-gamers in the Korean gaming industry. I connected this intensive training system to the Korean music industry where young teenagers are scouted by large entertainment agencies, live in dorms and are trained in singing, acting, speech, language- basically everything including change of physical appearances.

 

‘Koreans spend the same effort on everything, whether it’s college entrance exams or an office job. Korea stands for hard work’. – Lee Moon- won, a culture critic

 

E-sports are recognised to be alarmingly addictive to the point where the ‘government is subsidising treatment programs for game addiction’ (Groom, 2014). The pressure on elite players was identified in State of Play with Jae Dong becoming stressed with his image of being the best pro-gamer as well as the pressure on amateur players to hopefully reach that level. Online gaming is a bigger issue than I could have imagined. With research I was able to discover various reported deaths relating to online gaming. In 2002, a twenty-four year old man in Korea collapsed and died in an internet café after playing non-stop for eighty six hours. In 2005, another Korean male went into cardiac arrest after playing StarCraft for fifty hours and the list goes on. South Korea’s availability of cheap internet cafes (PC Bangs) that are open 24/7 and high- speed internet allows the online gaming culture to blossom- something that we in Western cultures don’t readily have. We see online gaming as a regular hobby or something you do in your free time, but in Eastern cultures it could be considered as an actual sporting practice. In the documentary, E-sports are compared to physical sports such as football, with all the appropriate stadiums and even fan audiences.

‘State of Play’ opened my eyes to a different culture that I was initially unaware of. I found myself completely interested and curious about the online gaming industry and with further research I was able to reflect on the Korean culture that were questionable and completely different to my own.

 

References:

Choe, S. Kim, SY. 2013, ‘Never Stop Playing’ in Academia. http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/38552691/Never_Stop_Playing_10-21-13.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ56TQJRTWSMTNPEA&Expires=1472180659&Signature=RDkQp3D1RtGXAikozzz%2BvwEbIok%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DNever_Stop_Playing_StarCraft_and_Asian_G.pdf visited 23/8

Groom, N. 2014, ‘Online Gaming is South Korea’s most popular drug’ in VICE. http://www.vice.com/read/online-gaming-is-south-koreas-most-popular-drug visited 23/8

Hong, E. 2014, ‘The Lean, Mean, Star-making K-pop Machine’ in The Paris Review. http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2014/08/06/the-lean-mean-star-making-k-pop-machine/ visited 23/8

Maestrosc, 2014, ‘Why Gaming Houses are NOT holding back E-sports’ in Reddit. https://m.reddit.com/r/leagueoflegends/comments/2ejoan/why_gaming_houses_are_not_holding_back_esports/ visited 24/8

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State of Religion

After initially experiencing State of Play and observing it with autoethnographic research in mind, there were several processes, encounters and internal thoughts I experienced which I will analyses through self-reflective investigation. I hope to explore certain epiphanies and important moments within the text and in doing so, will hope to gain and convey a deeper understanding of the cultural nuances within the Korean e-sports industry.

As we begun the viewing of State of Play in class, the #Digc330 twitter feed sprang to life. This was an extremely interesting experience. Everyone contributing to the feed was simultaneously watching the documentary and thus commenting on the experience itself in live time. However, whilst this was all simultaneous, the ideas and issues that were being brought up all explored different aspects of the film.

 

 

 

The above tweets are just a few I pulled from the #digc330 feed to portray the variations in issues being discussed. This process of autoehtnography helps to explain a couple of things. Firstly, autoethnography and the research conducted by the individual will vary and depend on the individuals cultural back ground. Therefore within autoethnography, there is no “right” or “wrong” thing to be looking at, rather the individual draws from their own personal experiences and reflects on this in the hope of forming a greater understanding of the culture they have experienced. Yet viewing State of Play alongside a live twitter feed undoubtedly affected my understanding of the documentary and Korean e-sport culture, more so then if I had simply viewed the film alone. Therefore, autoethnography is more than just personal self-reflection, it also allows for the reflection of a group of experiences and observations.

As I already had some basic knowledge and exposure to competitive Korean e-sports previous to my initial State of Play viewing, I found myself actively searching for unfamiliar aspects within the film. Where I understood that the money, stadiums, huge fan bases, and team houses where a common part of e-sports, I was intrigued by the involvement of the family. By drawing on my personal experience I was able to relate to certain aspects of the Korean culture, while also noticing other aspects that I haven’t personally experienced before.

Taking note of the historical and spiritual/religious culture that came from the parents in State of Play, I was intrigued and wondered “Is this emphasis on religion part of the overall Korean culture, or is it simply a result of Jae-dongs culture?”

Looking at this paper, I am almost convinced that the emphasis towards spirituality and religion in Jae-dongs family, is not repeated throughout the entirety of South Korean families. Of the secondary school children surveyed in the “Spiritual State of the World’s Children, Executive Summary report for south Korean” 58% stated they have no religious affiliation and only 16% report weekly or daily prayer. These statistics suggest many families are much less involved with religion and spirituality when compared to what we see in State of Play. This is interesting as I have come to realise that State of Play is conveying quite an individual, unique story about an elite pro-gamer. This story isn’t what every pro-gamer has experienced, rather it is Jae-dong’s personal endeavour. In other words, we experience Jae-dongs journey through the cultures immediately surrounding him.

References:

http://onehope.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/OneHope-SSWC-ABY-South-Korea-Executive-Summary-Report_Final-pending-SWOT-and-Recommendationscitation-reference.pdf0_.pdf

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Godzilla Unearthed

Taking it back to my initial reaction to Godzilla; I’ve now done the research, compared my reactions to what was actually happening in the movie and have accepted that some things will remain a mystery to me while some scenes which I took at face value have a lot more meaning than I first realized. However, I feel like this is quite common even with Hollywood films since it is impossible to keep track of every detail of the movie on first watch and even just reading over the story line on Wikipedia can help reveal some answers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who went on a crazed Google expedition to find out all I could about a mind-fuck movie I just watched (Inception, Fight Club, and Eternal Sundhine of the Spotless Mind, I’m looking at you) and find out if I was even close to understanding the plot.

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But, back to Godzilla. In true autoethnographic style, it’s now time to analyze my experience with a little bit of background research to help understand my initial reactions. One of the first things I noticed during my viewing was a map of Japan that appeared sideways compared to modern maps, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to find out exactly why this is so that will have to remain a mystery to me. It struck me that even though I viewed American and Japanese film as quite different from each other, there were a lot of tropes and themes that appeared in Godzilla which are common in Hollywood cinema as well; most noticeable was the love triangle plot line between Ogata, Serizawa, and Emiko. In America’s love triangle repertoire, there’s Sweet Home AlabamaTwilightMoulin Rouge, and Bridget Jones’s Diary just to name a few. Japan on the other hand has an almost infinite list of anime featuring love triangles; think Skip Beat!NanaHoney and Clover and School Rumble. Maybe we’re not so different after all.

Before watching Godzilla, I never knew of its intense focus on the dangers of nuclear weapons, but this metaphor made sense to me since the film was released in 1954, barely a decade after the horrible events of World War II. Even the last line of the entire film drove in a final reminder to learn from the horrors of the past when Yamane says, “but if we continue conducting nuclear tests, it’s possible that another Godzilla might appear somewhere in the world again“. Until researching the text however, I was unaware of the parallels Godzilla had to the events of the second world war. An article by Peter H. Brothers explains the extent at which the director of Godzilla, Ishiro Honda, went to re-create some of the brutal experiences from the war. As WWII was drawing to a close, Japan was forced to fight America alone as both Germany and Italy had surrendered and this can be seen through Godzilla when Japan once again must face the threat alone. Also, in the film Tokyo is reduced to a ‘sea of fire’ during the monsters rampage which can be likened to the real-life bombing of the capital on March 9, 1945, where over a million people lost their homes while 100 000 others lost their lives.

After delving deeper into the context of the film, it is clear to me that Godzilla is supposed to be a remorseful look at the past with an emphasis on the evil that should never have been used – the atomic bomb. Although I haven’t seen the US version of Godzilla, there are many articles stating the obliteration of the originals political message and this is understandable due to the tension between America and Japan; especially after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was only in 2004 when the original Godzilla  was released unedited without any American protagonists in sight. Comparing the two different versions would be an interesting study to take up especially since each country were on opposite sides of nuclear war, however, this has been enough Godzilla for one day.

Revisiting ‘State of Play’

In my previous post I used Ellis, Adams and Bochners’ concept of autoethnography to record my own experiences with an East Asian text, the film State of Play (2013). As Ellis, Adams and Bochner explain, in order to write an autoethnographical account we’re required to recognise “patterns” of cultural experience and describe these patterns. In writing autoethnography we need to write about our own personal experience with another culture, and use this in order to “understand our own cultural experience”. My previous post details my initial response to a Korean cultural experience, and I will now re-examine it to critically evaluate my assumptions…

State of Play is a documentary following professional gamers as they compete in the Korean eSport industry. My initial response to the film can be read here.

In my previous blog post I stated that I was immediately hesitant to watch the film, as I knew from the outset that I wouldn’t enjoy it. Immediately I’ve distanced myself from the film and this can explain why I felt so emotionally disconnected from the characters. Watching the film in a tertiary educational setting caused me to be disinterested before it had even begun. I’ve immediately positioned myself away from the story, the characters and the industry. Because of this, I began to question the legitimacy of the gaming ‘profession’ and the respect they’ve earned.

“I had no idea that they could actually make real money or have a career playing video games.” (me)

“Not only is being a gamer a career, but there is an entire industry built around them?” (me)

“I’m pretty amazed that people actually sit cheering in a room whilst they compete in video games in real time.” (me)

Looking back I can re-examine aspects of the film that may have re-enforced my position as a cultural outsider. The fact that I had to rely on subtitles to understand the entirety of the film should be taken into account. I also found the cityscape to be something I’d never experienced before; the smog and grey city seemed almost unrealistic.

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In hindsight I am now rethinking why I had a negative attitude towards the film. Whilst viewing the film I felt my traditional understanding of what a successful, professional career ought to look like challenged. Before watching the film I never thought that gaming could be a real profession, or that gaming was a professional industry. However I found the idea of social media influencers to be perfectly conceivable (Adi 2015).

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Why is this? And why am I only making this comparison now?

My daily use of social media, and my understanding of contemporary marketing practices mean that I understand and approve of social media marketing and those that make a living from posting pictures. I now see that my personal experience and interest shapes the way that I have rationalised this.

Originally I found that this film challenged my perceptions, but why should it have???

During the film I drew comparisons between professional gaming and professional football. I found that I could appreciate the work and commitment that young footballers make to get where they are, but not that of young gamers.

“I’m now beginning to draw comparisons between eSports and the world of football. These kids start young, practicing 10-12 hours a day to get drafted into teams.” (me)

I can now see that my personal experience with social media and football, and the normality of both of these within my own community have shaped my responses. I personally had no experience or interest in gaming, and have never participated in conversations about the industry before – and this ultimately caused my initial dismissal of professional gaming, ‘eSports’. I can now see that I drew parallels between gaming and football in order to comprehend the industry, but even then I thought that footballers had a more legitimate profession.

With research, I can see that my original response feeds into contemporary debates. There are hundreds of thousands of articles, webpages and forum debates on whether competitive gaming should be respected, and whether competitive gaming should even be a profession. Whilst watching the film I stereotyped these professional gamers as nerds with little social skills wanting to just play games for a living. I was originally amazed that gaming was a professional industry, but after reading an old forum post from years ago I can see how they earn their respect. I hadn’t been exposed to these opinions or debates before watching the film, and this explains why I held my original views.

Everyone has different assumptions about the world we live in, and it is by analysing our responses that we’re able to clearly see this. It is through the process of autoethnography that I am able to see my response to an Asian film as a reflection of my cultural identity.

 

References:

Screenshots from the film; State of Play, 2013.

Google search ‘social media influencers, the profession’ results.