It is settled: I will be exploring the Monster Hunter franchise for my autoethnographic study. While it has been a couple months of indecision, there is no going back now. I feel Monster Hunter is an interesting area to study as there is such a huge disparity in terms of popularity between Japanese audiences and audiences in my current environment; I want to find out why. Well, at the very least I want to find out if I can find out why.
“Autoethnography, as method, attempts to disrupt the binary of science and art. Autoethnographers believe research can be rigorous, theoretical, and analytical and emotional, therapeutic, and inclusive of personal and social phenomena.” (Adams et, al 2011) I have taken this idea from Tony Adams’ article about the benefit of autoethnographic studies and am using it for direction in conducting research to the cultural disparity between Monster Hunter’s sales, as I believe the reason cannot be pin-pointed to a singular cause, and must be identified through both theoretical research and interpersonal reflection.
An article last year on Kill Screen Daily by Jon Irwin attributes much of the reason to marketing strategies, rather than gameplay itself: “cute character merchandise to attract female players… Branded T shirts in Uniqlo… Capcom partnered with Karaoke chain Shidax, organising events where players could rent karaoke themed booths to play in and purchase branded dinner sets…” (Irwin, 2013) Irwin then goes on to state that these strategies are proven to work in Japan, however in “Western” culture, this whimsical approach will not fly (Irwin, 2013).
While I can see validity in this theory, I do not think it is without its issues, as Irwin binarizes his conclusion far too much. I must admit, when I first read this article a few weeks back it made perfect sense, however that was with the personal bias of separating eastern and western culture. That being said, I still believe this reasoning to a certain extent, however in the on-coming weeks I ill seek to identify and reflect on more than just this one reason, as the above article failed to do.
Ellis, C, Adams, T E, Bochner, A P 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Historical Social Research, vol.36, no.4, pp273-290.
Irwin, J, 2013 ‘Why Isn’t Monster Hunter More Popular in the West? Our Fear of Singing Out of Tune”, Kill Screen Daily, http://killscreendaily.com/articles/how-did-monster-hunter-become-most-popular-game-japan-karaoke-and-hot-tubs/