The focus I will be taking with my autoethnographic study will be Japanese video games which can be played on a portable gaming platform. I’m choosing games which can be played on a portable platform purely to help narrow down the options. I will play a new game each week and talk about my experiences with them. However, today I want to recall an experience I had playing a game which, until recently, I didn’t know was Japanese.
Back in early 2007, when I was 13, I had a game on the PSP called ‘Me and My Katamari’. I had no idea exactly a ‘katamari’ was (apparently it just refers to the sticky ball you roll around in the game), or where the game came from, but I quickly found that I loved it. It was a really new experience for me as I had never really played a game like it; though I don’t mean I’d never played a Japanese video game before, because I had (and I watched my brother play ‘Final Fantasy‘ more often than you’d think).
The Katamari Series was produced by the Japanese company Namco, and consists of 6 main games over a variety of gaming platforms. The general idea of ‘Me and My Katamari’ was to roll up items on Earth to rebuild islands for some homeless animals. Sounds a bit strange, and to be honest it was. The colours were bright and everything was a bit in your face. The celestial Royals (pictured below) were the oddest beings I’d ever encountered in a video game. They created magical winds and spewed rainbows.
There were times when I didn’t really understand what I was supposed to do in the game, but I kept playing because I wanted to beat the clock or make an even better island made of snacks and trees. I would get really frustrated when I couldn’t complete a level, but I would work at it. I would figure out a way to get my Katamari as big as possible as quickly as possible. I suppose that was really the aim of the entire game. And while it does sound a little pointless if you say it like that, I really enjoyed ‘Me and My Katamari’, and played it constantly.
After I play all of the other games I have lined up for this autoethnographic study I am going to go back and replay ‘Me and My Katamari’ to see what it’s like 7 years on. I’ll compare my experience replaying the game to my experiences with playing all the other games for the first time.
I have a feeling I will notice a lot more replaying the game, but I am wondering how it will make me feel the second time round. Also it will be interesting to look at what I bring to the experience.