gaming

Love Live – Why I Understand It So Well!

Hey all!

Ultimately, I’ll be changing my DA because I understand Japanese gaming too well. However, I actually really enjoyed realising just how much I understood about Japanese Idol and gaming culture- and then realising that it was making this game easier for me to understand and interpret.

Here’s my podcast:

 

And as always some helpful links:

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Love Live! – Autoethnographic

hey all!

Better late than never, this week I walked through my time playing Love Live! The podcast goes for a bit longer than recommended due to some technical difficulties with editing but I hope you’ll forgive me.

But over all, while playing this game it was definitely confusing. There wasn’t an auto-matic tutorial or anything! I was lost while recording this whole thing.

I found some tutorials though, in case anyone is interested in giving it a go:

Hope you enjoy it, I definitely recommend it!

eSports on the world stage

This month Valve hosted its annual Dota 2 International, hosting qualifiers and then the main event over 2 weekends, with a total prize pool of over $24 million. I know all of this because my boyfriend went missing in the middle of the night for 2 weekends in a row (but more than made up for his absence later). I already knew that professional gaming or ‘eSports’ was a big industry, with a whole world of spin-off industries like streaming or ‘casting’. What I didn’t know was that it’s an industry worth almost $900 million annually (and growing), or how seriously the gamers at the top take their careers.

State of Play follows the life and career of Starcraft megastar Lee ‘Jaedong’ Jae Dong, shining a light into the intensity of life as a professional gamer in South Korea. The documentary catches the drama and emotion of the players in a way that makes them accessible and human, despite their elite status and unorthodox careers. As we watched, I was blown away by the dedication these guys (even today, eSports is male-dominated) put in – leaving home young to move into corporate-sponsored team houses, training 12 hours a day.

only 12

intense training

But these players know that’s what it takes to get to the top – Jaedong was widely considered one of the best players in Starcraft before his retirement in 2016.

I grew up in south-east Asia, so the intensity and commitment shown by the players in this doco, as well as the blow to their pride and loss of face from failure, is something I understand. This documentary got me wondering why esports is perceived as a uniquely Asian phenomenon? Who are the top players? Who are the most avid viewers? Who are the biggest fans? State of Play shone a spotlight on the fangirls who flocked to gaming superstars – their love, their gift-giving, and their loyalty really tugged on my heartstrings.

Ji Sun

 

Well, 190 million people tune in to follow their favourite eSports every year, most often to watch League of Legends or DOTA 2. Those viewers come from all around the world (and wake up across all time zones to tune in). In LoL, Asian teams still dominate, but 3 of the top 10 teams come from the USA or Europe. In DOTA 2, which has larger prize pools, 6 of the top 10 teams come from Europe or the USA. In both games, commentators, or casters, come from all over the world to accommodate a global viewership in multiple languages.

While the popularity of gaming as eSports spawned in Asia, technology and passion have converged to make it a massive worldwide industry.

Corpse Party lets Play: the begining

Linking here to the two other blogs as an error when re-blogging means I’m no longer able to re-blog here.

Corpse Party Part 2

Corpse Party part 3

The Pink Protagonist Writes

Tortured_Souls_characters Original image came from http://corpseparty.wikia.com/wiki/Sakutaro_Morishige/Gallery

Ok, so as promised in my video I will write this mini blog with a bit more information about ‘Corpse Party’. My intention is to do a few let’s play videos for this game, with the goal to finish the game. But we will see how we go.

As stated in my video, the game itself has a pretty massive intro that requires a lot of reading. This did mean that my first video is pretty much all intro into the game as it took close to 20 minutes just to do what I did. I have yet to find anyone that has transcribed the whole game. I am sorry for skipping through the text so fast. I will keep digging to see if I find one. OR, if time permits, maybe just write one up myself.

So, Corpse party was first released in 1996…

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“a nurse… and a part time necromancer!”

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Desktop Screenshot of me playing Pokémon Red

Receiving your first Pokémon at Professor Oak’s lab, stepping into the grass on the first route of your journey, encountering that first new Poké Pal in the wild. Starting out on an adventure is always an exciting experience. However, when this adventure is marked by apprehension and possible sadness, the experience is somewhat different.

Having never engaged with a randomiser Nuzlocke before, my experience with Pokémon Red was something completely different than what I have experienced when playing a regular Pokémon game. The first thing that made it different was that the original Pokémon Red only had 151 obtainable Pokémon, not in this version, for I had the chance to encounter 151 Pokémon selected randomly from a total of 721. This immediately made the game more challenging as I had to choose between Ditto, Mothim, and Piplup for a starter Pokémon, and then deal with Pokémon you wouldn’t typically find on the first route, like Poliwrath and Beartic.

Following the basic rules of a Nuzlocke, I encountered, caught, and nicknamed a single Pokémon on each route. As my team and I traversed routes, trekked through forests, and battled countless trainers and wild Pokémon, we became stronger. However, there were some casualties along the way.

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All images used belong to The Pokémon Company

The above image shows the beloved Pokémon that I caught during my short adventure, including Olivia and Miura who died along the way. Under Nuzlocke rules, if a Pokémon faints at any point during your adventure, it is considered dead and must be released or placed in a PC box permanently. Although not a rule that has to be adhered to, it is often accepted that Pokémon be nicknamed so that their trainers become more attached to them.

Nicknaming Pokémon, in my opinion, does create a bond, as it immediately makes the experience more personal. This nicknaming coupled with your determination to keep your Pokémon alive really gives the game tension, and places a tremendous amount of responsibility on the player to perform to the best of their ability. Ultimately, playing a Pokémon game while adhering to Nuzlocke rules can be a very emotional and tense experience, one that is undeniably different than the experience you would receive from a playing a Pokémon game in the way it was intended.

True to the format, the game forced me to think more strategically about how to conserve my team mates and keep them alive. When I did let team mates die, it was an emotional experience. Each loss made me feel guilty and sad, I questioned whether I could have saved them, and all I could do was move on and learn from my mistakes.

However, while playing the game I realised that Pokémon in the Nuzlocke format that die, are effectively zombies. Sure, if they faint then by the rules you are no longer able to use that Pokémon, but the games mechanics themselves will not let Pokémon actually die. If you took your fainted partner to the Pokémon Centre, Nurse Joy would take your Pokéballs, slap them into her machine and stare at them as technology did the rest. In the ordinary way you would play a Pokémon game, Nurse Joy would just heal your friends, in a Nuzlocke, she is effectively a nurse (because she still heals your Pokémon) and a part time necromancer!

In my autoethnographic analysis of this text, I will be looking at the experience itself, but also what made this experience possible. This means that I will be looking at technology and remix culture, the two elements that largely come together to make this possible. However, I also want to look into whether such experiences have adverse effects, focusing largely on games publishing companies.

Regarding technology, I would like to look into how people access experiences like this. To understand this would involve looking at the technologies and cultures that allow this such as emulators, ROMs, and P2P file sharing. It would also be interesting to discover whether it is possible to play some of the newer games available on the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS systems via emulators or related technologies.

Another area that makes these styles of games possible is Remix culture. Eduardo Navas looks at Remix theory in terms of music, but says that a remix is a second mix of something pre-existing that is recognisable as coming from this pre-existing product. A remix is only a Remix if it has history, i.e. Pokémon Glazed, a remix of a Pokémon game, is only recognisable as a remix if its origins can be traced back to the game that has been initially remixed. My experience with Pokémon Red can be described as a remix, because although functioning in the way that the original did, new elements had been added into the game to create a new experience, such as: new Pokémon, types, and attacks/moves. A further element that adds to this remix are the self-adhered to Nuzlocke rules.

Moving on, I would like to wrap up this post by talking about the presentation of this project. At this stage, there are still elements of my research area that are unclear which I need to look into further. However, with the current scope of the project, it would serve me well to present it as a multimedia project that incorporates video, images, and text. This would likely be presented on Prezi, however, until I fully nail down my project as a whole this could change.

RIP me, it’s a Randomiser Nuzlocke

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For my individual research project I have decided to play a Pokémon game, but played in a way I have never attempted before. The popular franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri, who was inspired by one, the link cable technology that allowed multiplayer action on the old Gameboy handhelds, and two, his love of collecting insects as a child. While it took 6 years, Tajiri’s vision was achieved in the production of Pokémon Red and Green which were released in 1996.

Many Pokémon games followed the initial release of Red and Green, and has progressed into its 7th generation of Pokémon over the past 20 years. Today, we have over 721 obtainable Pokémon, a huge increase over the original 151 that were obtainable when I was a child.

My adventures with Pokémon began in 1998 when I was 5 years old. I had just started school, I had no friends, and I cried a lot. A LOT. After what seemed like forever, I finally made a friend.

One day, this friend came over to my house toting a Gameboy Advance with Pokémon Red and Blue. We took turns playing this fascinating game of collecting and battling exotic and strange monsters, and it was at this moment I was hooked, my life took a new direction, I was either going to be boring or become consumed by gaming culture. We all know what won out.

The first Pokémon game I ever owned was Pokémon Gold, one of the 2nd generation games that emerged during 1999. With the second generation of Pokémon expanding the universe, introducing new concepts and more opportunities for player interaction, I can safely say Pokémon found a place inside many players’ hearts, my own included, where it will be cherished forever.

For my project, I am going to be looking at Pokémon in an entirely new way, for myself anyway. I will be attempting a rom hack of Pokemon Red while adhering to the rules of a Randomiser Nuzlocke challenge. There are three things to unpack here, which are:

  1. Rom hacks: the process of modifying various elements of a video game to breathe new life into older games or to create a ‘new’ game using the old as a foundation.
  2. Randomisers: randomiser Pokémon play throughs can involve many things, but usually involve players travelling around a familiar Pokémon region with the wild encounterable Pokémon being completely randomised, so they have a chance of finding Pokémon they wouldn’t ordinarily find in that area.
  3. Nuzlockes: Nuzlocke challenges present a way of playing Pokémon, which involves the player following self-imposed rules that ultimately make the game more challenging and emotional. The basic rules include: any Pokémon that faints is considered dead and must be released or placed in PC storage permanently; the player may only catch the first Pokémon encountered in each area and none else, if this Pokémon flees or faints there is no second chances; while not definite, it is generally accepted that players also nickname their Pokémon for the sake of stronger emotional bonds.

To clarify, I will be playing a rom hack of the original Pokémon Red version which has had all 721 Pokémon injected into it. I will be playing a randomised version, which means I will randomly encounter Pokémon from a pick of 721. I will also be applying the above basic Nuzlocke rules to completely ramp up the difficulty and emotional impact of the game.

Before talking about how I will conduct my study, I will briefly go into what autoethnography is.

In terms of autoethnography, Ellis et al say that research and writing conducted in an autoethnographic way methodically examines personal experiences to better understand cultural experiences. The process of autoethnography, the doing, features elements of autobiography and ethnography. This essentially means that autoethnographic study involves the recording of a personal experience which is later analysed for cultural elements in order to help insiders and outsiders better understand the culture.

However, for this style of study, analysis is key. Researchers MUST use theoretical and methodological tools along with academia to produce a well-rounded study that is not just a story. The aim of autoethnographic study is to ultimately illustrate the characteristics of a culture to make it familiar for others.

For this study, I will be recording a series of videos that will:

  • Demonstrate how to access and play these games
  • Include footage of myself playing Pokémon Red to record my personal experience with the randomiser Nuzlocke challenge
  • Analyse the various elements of engaging with such a text and the cultural implications

For the next blog post I will include some evidence of my engagement with the text, my experience with the text, and some of the questions or thoughts I have about the text.

Till then.

Heading back into the man’s game

Understanding my assumptions throughout It’s A Man’s Game:
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Using our own culture and experiences to understand another is something that we all do on a regular basis; autoethnography puts this into an academic setting where we can use personal aspects such as perspective and opinion to contribute towards research to develop a deeper understanding. I attempted to tackle this unnecessarily-difficult-to-say word and the meaning behind it by recording my personal experience of Korean culture – my thoughts during the documentary State of Play. State of Play is a documentary that looks into the eSports profession in South Korea. It is centered not so much around the actual gaming, but more so around the hysteria that exists within the gaming industry: the fans, the hours of training, the huge stadiums, the money, the sacrifices the gamers make and, overall, the intense and fierce nature of the eSports scene. For me, it was difficult to concentrate on much else than the gender roles that were screaming at me. Literally. Women were only portrayed as screaming, adoring fans whilst the men were the talented, moneymaking gamers. Watching and recording how I felt was the easy part. Understanding how I came to my assumptions is the in-depth process, the autoethnographic process.

The most common thing I did throughout the viewing, was compare my culture to that of South Korea. For example, “but what isn’t obvious throughout the documentary is whether girls even try to compete at a professional level, whether any of them are interested, whether they just accept the gender norms, or if there are girls out there who are frustrated by the fact that men dominate the gaming industry and they are expected to just scream and squeal for the boys until their throats are sore, at which point they just fall to their knees and present the gamers with gifts, even when they’ve lost.” Words such as ‘them’ and ‘they’ provide obvious disconnections between myself and South Korean women, even though we share so much in common. It is my lack of experience with the gaming culture that creates my disconnection. But naturally, as a human being, I grasp on to any sense of familiarity by recalling memories of being a celebrity fangirl myself as a young teenager, as the South Korean girls are portrayed. This was how I made sense of what I was viewing, this is how my personal experiences shape my understanding. Ellis et al. describes this as they way we “systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (2011).

It is interesting to consider how my assumptions throughout State of Play were sometimes very different to that of my classmates (see Digital Asia blog). This is where the individuality of autoethnography is so obvious: since every person has different experiences, different knowledge and different perceptions, the way that we perceive things can vary immeasurably.
For me, one of my biggest passions in life is gender equality, and so I tend to pull this out in every possible opportunity. Specifically in State of Play, gender equality was nowhere in sight, and so my personal understanding of South Korea shifted. Upon reflection and research, feminism is actually surging within this country. Leading the pack is Megalian.com, a website which uses technology to promote gender equality and to humorously bash the misogyny that exists within South Korea. “To see the misogyny that is today taken as acceptable social behaviour and spat at South Korean women every day: to turn it around so men and women alike can witness it in its honest, raw form – discrimination.” Having this new knowledge answers some of the questions I considered upon my initial viewing of the documentary: I genuinely did not know if anyone was interested in women empowerment or if traditional Korean culture was just happily accepted. With this new knowledge, my next viewing of State of Play would probably provoke all new assumptions, highlighting the nature of autoethnography and how each experience can hugely impact each perception.

Autoethnography allows us to critically understand the assumptions we make and what they say about our cultural experiences and understanding. It makes us consider why we feel a certain way about something to, in turn, lead to a deeper understanding and more useful and reliable research.

 

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…

View original post 1,160 more words

State of Gender Equality in South Korea

Today I am analyzing my own auto-ethnographic account of the South Korean documentary on professional gaming ‘State of Play‘.

Autoethnography as defined by Ellis et al, 2011 refers to the act of observing a cultural experience and discussing how your own personal cultural experiences affect the way in which you experience this.

In my initial autoethnographic account of ‘State of Play’, I was left dumbfounded at some of the situations exhibited in the documentary. This included the huge amount of fame given to professional gamers, these gamers then giving the majority of their ridiculously high earnings to their parents and the lack of equality exhibited in gender roles through South Korean society. After the initial shock of these differences wore off, I conducted research into South Korean traditions and values and found many answers to my questions of cultural difference.

Despite only 1% of South Koreans actively identifying as Confucianist today, many of their social values and traditions are based upon Confucianist ideologies. The family is integral in Korean life and the father, being the head of the family is required to provide food, clothing and shelter and must approve of any marriages of members of the family. Many families trace back their ancestry through male ancestors for over 500 years and Confucius’s teachings denote how individuals should behave and outlines obligations of people depending on their relationship.(Commisceo Global, 2016)

Further children in Korean society are raised to believe they can never repay their parents for bringing them up and are forever in their debt. As the act of bringing them into the world and giving them life is seen as the ultimate self-sacrifice.(Commisceo Global, 2016)

Now how does all this relate?

The cultural values exhibited in Korean society and their values bring light to a lot of the things Lee Jae Dong did in the documentary ‘State of Play’ which confused me in my initial viewing.

For example, I was thoroughly perplexed and mildly pissed off when Lee Jae Dong’s exclaimed that he gave all of his winnings to his father. Growing up in capitalist Australia my initial reaction was to accuse the father of stealing and question his use of emotional manipulation tactics. However, upon research and reflection, as Korean society places the family’s welfare above that of the individual’s, and Korean children are raised in debt of their parents by Confucian tradition, this act made sense. Despite the fact my upbringing still makes me view this as ridiculously unfair.

Another aspect of confusion for me was the very structured, rather sexist ritual of female fans presenting Lee Jae Dong with gifts after he would play in professional gaming tournaments. Although it appears gift giving has very strict etiquette rules to follow in South Korea. As the female fans admire and respect Lee Jae Dong, and want him to perform well, these gifts signify support and love from the fans. Some of the etiquette rules to follow include handing over the gift with both hands, wrapping it nicely (a gift wrapped untidily is a sign of disrespect), and giving 4 of something in a gift is considered unlucky where giving 7 of something is lucky. (Commisceo Global, 2016)

The fact that everyone has a specific place in society with rules and obligations they must follow accordingly means the disparity between genders is very large. South Korea ranked 111th out of 136 in the gender equality index. As the documentary highlighted through its significant lack of female professional gamers and immense number of fangirls which I originally found quite alarming, the country has a long way to go for gender equality. (Kim, J Lee J-W, Shin, K 2016)

Just because these social exchanges make sense, doesn’t make them agreeable or right for the me and this seems to be the case for others as there are many feminist groups fighting to raise women’s place in South Korean society.  There is a 55% female participation rate in the South Korean labor force compared to the male rate of 77%. South Korea’s importance of raising a good family places immense pressure on mothers, who are primarily responsible for rearing children. Korean workplaces have been found to provide inflexible environments for working mothers and a lack of affordable, convenient and quality child care. (Kim, J Lee J-W, Shin, K 2016)

One of the more extreme branches of these movements is ‘Megalia‘ who have spoken out against, misogyny in South Korea. Their website is a space which has been dubbed by Reddit user ‘SexyMcSexington’ (I know I’m sorry) as the ‘female Korean 4chan‘ which I find is an interesting perspective.  The group have been surrounded in controversy as it attempted to ‘mirror’ the misogynistic comments male users would write about females.

However much of the backlash I found was very similar to the backlash against feminism in Western cultures and Megalian’s tactics could be easily compared to ‘Feminazis’ online. Where men would have similar arguments stating that the feminists are worse than misogynists and accuse them of attempting them of suppressing men’s sexual freedom. (Singh, E 2016)

The group have been responsible for shutting down ‘hidden cams’ on the website Ticketmonster, which would film females in situations where they were unaware of being filmed. They lobbied for the removal of misogynistic banners from Hanshin University, donated over 6 million KRW to Aeranwon an NGO which helps single mothers, and most notably has stopped the sale of high concentrate hydrochloric acid which has been used as weapons in hate crimes against women by men. This was all done by lobbying and protesting by the group and are all significant measures which enable better safety and security of South Korean women.

Their logo I absolutely love, it is satiric in nature and alludes to the novel by Gerd Braten Berg, ‘Egalia’s Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes’, where the genders are reversed. So males are at constant risk of sexual assault and it’s considered their fault and women are given the upper hand in society due to their ability to give birth. It also alludes to the constant objectification of women through use of hand gesture used to signify small male genetalia. (Singh, E 2016)

megalia-logo4

I love that there are feminists fighting for their voices and right to equality in South Korea as there was a very defined divide between genders throughout the documentary. The only females shown were the gamer’s mothers and sisters and then the fan girls whose only purpose seemed to be to worship and offer unyielding support for the players. Which I found very unsettling considering its 2016.

I apologize for going off on a feminist tangent however I feel I didn’t delve enough into the issue in my original autoethnographic account. Through analysis of my original post, I have gained greater understanding of the Korean Culture and the state of society (pun intended) exhibited in the documentary ‘State of Play’ through research and reflection.

 

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.