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[BCM 320] Autoethnographic Analysis? Aha!

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One of the most critical components of the autoethnographic method and product is arguably that of the researcher’s self-reflexivity and reflection upon their investigation and information. Indeed, in the words of Ellis et al,“Autoethnographers ask: ‘How useful is the story?’” (Ellis, 2010). As such, the following blog post will be an analysis of my own autoethnographic narrated experience, directed by some of the key tenants of the research methodology posited by Ellis et al in ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’ (2010).

Re-reading my earlier Blog Post, I can see where my upbringing as a white, Anglo-Saxon male has influenced my approach to and rationalisation of, my Digital Artefact and the scope it entails. As an individual educated in a mainstream primary and secondary schooling system, many of my opinions, attitudes and beliefs regarding music, art and culture have been strongly influenced by small-Australian-town norms, my peers and a majority mindset, and…

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[BCM 320] Ethnography for your Ear-Holes!

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Bloom Blap! My car speakers reverberated, Triple J blasting through the radio. My Subaru vibrated with the bass. Aggressive and over-the-top rap bars blared. As I continued my journey, the song would break down in a mixture of synths, echoes, vocal harmonies and percussion in one epic Hip-Hop medley.

I loved every second of it, surprised that I hadn’t yet heard the unknown song before, nor could I recognise the artist singing.

Tom Tilley, the radio host’s voice interrupted my thoughts, “That was a new track called ‘Kids’ by Rich Brian; you’re listening to Triple J!”

Rich Brian? I thought. No way! I was already familiar with the Indonesian-born rapper Rich Brian as I had listened to a lot of his earlier albums while I was still in High School. Back then, Brian’s style seemed to be directly influenced by American rap; or as Jones (2017) puts it, glamorising violence…

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Akira

The film screened this week in BCM320 digital Asia was Akira, a Japanese anime film released in 1988 and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Set in 2019, a motorcycle gang in a post-apocalyptic world struggle to protect themselves from the infectious evil of both civilians and political authority in Tokyo.

This was my first real exposure to anime. It was very different from the usual western cartoons I am familiar with. I associate these colourful moving pictures with my childhood and innocence, but Akira definitely challenged my views. It was a much more mature film regarding its underlying messages in comparison to the Western culture cartoons I have consumed.

Live-tweeting this tutorial sparked more interesting conversations than the previous week. The film’s plot I feel brought scary realities into play. The depictions of a furious, corrupt, power-driven world can definitely be seen amongst certain hierarchies in society.

For me, a futuristic film focused on the elements of such mature themes such as political power and violence rather than new technological inventions was very refreshing. The friendship between Kaneda and Tetsuo is something I think should be viewed by everyone. Akira is definitely a film ahead of its time with its continuing relevance throughout decades past with a strong focus on personal and authoritarian relationships. Scenes felt so raw and real at times. Even though the blood was animated, and the sound effects created by production the violence still made me sick. I found this very weird as I have watched many films in my life so far that has included extreme violence and it did not make this big of an impact.

Through background research of the film and information shared on the Twitter hashtag, I was surprised to see how often Akira has been used as inspiration for many people in their creative works, in particular, Kanye West. Relating to the setting of the film, it was quite intriguing to also find out this now 30-year-old film almost predicted the future with its mention of Tokyo hosting the 2019 Olympics when they are in fact hosting the 2020 Olympics.

“Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis, 2004, Holman Jones, 2005)

My understanding of autoethnographic methodology is that an individual is giving a recount of a past experience assisted by secondary research regarding the subject of discussion. Ellis et al (2011) communicate the practice of ethnography as culturally conducted studies that have a purpose to educate those unaware or in need of assistance to understand particular a culture and its elements.

Some of the methods of research commonly used when conducting a study are journal articles, interviews and photographs. To be considered as valuable in an autoethnographic study, sources go through a process of analysation. Ellis et al emphasise the need to comparing and contrasting personal experience against existing research. They also state the importance to produce a product that demonstrates reliability through fieldwork, aims to reduce generalisability and heighten validity of their study.

I believe autoethnography is crucial to progression within the world due to its deep cultural exploration. The ability to make something familiar to one’s unaware or even ignorant self has the ability to create a chain of education and the passing of information.

All about perspective

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Akira, a Japanese anime film created in 1988 is the central film for this week’s post.

Akira was my personal first experience with an anime film, Akira follows the story of Tetsuo, a teenager apart of a local biking ‘gang’ who feuds with another gang until he is abducted and experimented on by the Japanese government and more of less destroys Tokyo and is taken to another dimension by Akira another supernatural being.

According to Ellis’s definition (Auto ethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno) (ELLIS, 2004; HOLMAN JONES, 2005) I believe that my personal perspective or view of anime prior to this week’s class was close to nothing at all, I didn’t think about it until it was sat in front of me, which actually led to a slight fascination on my behalf although my westernised taste for movies and film did make me question the legitimacy of the film from the beginning. However, following many tweets and google searches I finally felt the experience an eye opening one. After some research I have realised how much of an influence this film has had on western culture including big time Hollywood celebrity Kanye West who references the Akira movie and credits it for much of his creative work. Akira’s story line reminded me of many other superhero and villain movies evident within Hollywood, the villain (Tetsuo) has been pushed or bullied into being resentful and abuses his new found power when the hero saves the day to the detriment of the originally abused/bullied villain.

Akira is known to have many underlying messages and meanings along with lots of other animated films. This video explains a central hidden meaning behind the film and breaks down each aspect, this video helped to improve my understanding of the film and how it has become such so popular in western society.

 

 

 

Reddit is another great site where people give their experience of viewing the film, circumstances and more. See bellow:

REDDIT THREAD 

Following my viewing of this movie I have gained a better understanding of the ‘hype’ or popularity surrounding Anime, I believe it brings real world issues and culture to consumers in a ‘fun’ and ‘artistic’ way with exaggeration and dialogue. One scene that heightened my attention was the government or ‘police’ hurting Tetsuo and how the brutality is evident cross culture.

Players

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Absence in week one has resulted in blog post being written on week two’s movie ‘Sate of Play ‘and my live tweeting experience as directed by tutor.

Although this was not my first live tweeting experience it was definitely out of my comfort zone. I would not consider myself a multitasker and attempting to pay attention to the screen and movie presented all while tweeting and researching. Following the suggestion to pre write or prepare some information about the movie prior to the tutorial I will be doing this before week three, so I am able to pay closer attention to the ongoing film.

‘State of Play’ created in 2013 was an interesting ethnographic film. As someone who is new to the word of Esports and gaming it was interesting to see the perspective of the gamers and I was shocked to hear they are required to play or ‘train’ for 10-12 hours per day. The players were a part of a team, which was an interesting perspective to many regular games that are played solo. The team won and lost together, they had a captain and attended tournaments much like a regular professional sporting team. The South Korean culture seemed so far from what I know in western society and only when the team attended an esports even in Los Angeles did I realise the enormity of the sport. The South Korean family views on gaming was something else that shocked me, following one of my tweets referring to a comment one of the gamers fathers made (“your brain is not very good”) a fellow BCM320 student who is Korean replied stating that this is common, the shaming of one another and from a senior and went on to say that she was not fond of the practice, which is interesting. I also found the documentary similar to those of many western celebrity documentaries, I even came across a tweet which compared it to that of ‘One Direction’.
The entire class live tweeting morale was different to past live tweeting experiences, everyone seemed to be engaging with one another and not just ‘tweeting to themselves’. Through this digital medium, I believe the class engaged more than they would have in a general class setting. Many tweets were mentioning the players health, that of their eyes, mind and sun exposure problems. This would have to be addressed as mentioned above the players are spending an excessive amount of time indoors and are bound to impact their health in the long run, this however was not shown in the documentary besides one player attending the gym. I am looking forward to next week’s live tweeting experience and the film to see how the interaction compares.

 

State of Play

Note: Due to absence in week one I was requested by my tutor to blog on week two’s screening.

This week in BCM320 Digital Asia the movie screened was ‘State of Play’, released in 2013 and directed by Steven Dhoedt. The ethnographic documentary followed the competitive journeys of both professional and up and coming youth gamers in South Korea who played the popular 1998 computer game, ‘Starcraft’.

The area of Asian cinema or South Korean cinema to be specific, is a new concept to me. I have never really engaged with it before. Coming from an Australian background I have only ever really been exposed to Western media. Growing up with the internet and being a digital native meant that the world of Asian cinema was never really hidden from me or hard to find I just never sought it. It’s not that I do not have an interest in it I just became too comfortable in the concentration of Western media that I forgot there was much more to be discovered outside of it.

Live-tweeting using the class hashtag is encouraged and I think it definitely heightens the overall film experience. It allows fellow classmates to share and view extra information that provides a better understanding of the film with added context, such as the backstory of the game itself and the Korean gaming culture as a whole. Live-tweeting also allows the expansion on subjects discussed within the film, for example, gaming as a possible Olympic sport in the near future. It sets up a friendly and relatable space and online community that the class can use to come together as one to either discuss, educate or simply have a joke among one another in relation to the screening.

In terms of how I make sense of the film, luckily due to my involvement in gaming culture I could partially understand the passion and frustration within the roller-coaster of winning and losing. I think on a personal level as well it is easy to relate to their journeys of hard work the individuals put in to achieve their professional dream. This translates to our own goals we set out to complete in life which isn’t always easy.

Overall I think the film was an interesting take on how big the gaming industry is and its success to the point of providing professional employment with large salaries for those with talent. From my first experience with Asian cinema, I am definitely looking forward to what is next.

Japanese Visual Novels

After experiencing the Japanese visual novel and dating simulator game, Hatoful Boyfriend, I have found myself intrigued by the popularity of these types of video games. Before playing Hatoful Boyfriend, I had never heard of a visual novel. While it is true that most video games do hold an element of ‘visual novel’, this game in particular purposely lacked a lot of gamer control that I’m used to. This surprised me as it technically is categorised as a video game, yet your options to manipulate the game itself is very little. Now and then there would be an option to choose, for example, which High School Club you were going to join, which would essentially shift the story’s direction. This means to uncover every aspect of the novel the game would have to be played at least ten times, revealing each possible play. Personally, unless you were invested in the game’s storyline the whole thing can become a bit tedious at the start. Wondering if it was just me finding the game boring after reading several reviews online I turned to Reddit where users shared their own Hatoful Boyfriend perspective. Each user’s experience actually differed from one another depending on the route they followed. While some ended up with the expected outcome- a boyfriend- others ended up down a darker path. This path involved the protagonist’s murder and player’s having to continue the story through the eyes of one of the pigeons trying to discover the truth. Reading each player’s experience made me reinvest in the game and its surprisingly complex structure and storyline.

After so many Reddit users taking an interest in the game and sharing just how unique the storyline actually is, I found an interview with the Japanese creators, Hato Moa and Damurushi, to uncover the intent behind the pigeon dating simulator. It was actually created as an April Fool’s Joke, a parody of another Japanese dating simulator, which explains the game’s humourous tones. The creators met through an internet community and were both highly interested in creating their own JRPG (Japanese role playing game). There was less thought behind the choice of using pigeons, as it was discovered Hato Moa has quite the fascination with birds.

The overall interest of the game has made me fascinated in the popularity and history of visual novels in Asian culture, specifically Japan. My initial idea for this blog post was to research both visual novels and dating simulators in the Asian market, however, after finding out that majority of dating simulators are in fact rated X, I’ve decided it best to just focus on the visual novel element.

The history of visual novels backtracks to 33 years ago when the Japanese video game publisher, Enix came out with an interactive mystery game called Portopia Renzku Satsujin Jiken. It follows the murder of the highly prominent banker Kouzou Yamakawa. The game relied on text-based inputs and dialogue scenes essentially introducing the visual novel format – onscreen visuals and dynamic character interaction- to the Japanese industry. From this, most visual novels still remain mostly in Japan however the introduction of the platform to the western world has increased. One reason for this introduction is the fan groups that have pushed the transition of certain games into the western world. Fans contacting game creators for an official translation and localisation making it available for western countries.

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Regardless of visual novels in western society, in Japan they are still hugely popular. One reason for this is because the Japanese tend to be huge on reading. In a lot of their games text is already very much integrated. This is another aspect which I’m interested in. For my research project I hope to further examine the key characteristics that make up typical Japanese video games. At the moment my experience with them is still limited so I hope to also branch out into different genres. My starting point could be the mystery game Portopia Renzku Satsujin Jiken. I do not know yet how difficult this 33-year-old game will be to get my hands on but I have already found YouTube How to Play videos on the game. Along with this I still hope to investigate the visual novel trend in Japan further.

Reference:

https://www.gamespot.com/forums/games-discussion-1000000/visual-novels-could-they-work-in-western-market-28997195/

http://www.denofgeek.com/us/games/video-games/255200/the-rise-of-the-western-visual-novel

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/answerman/2016-03-30/.100434

These Epiphanies Are Making Me Hungry

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Nowadays it’s hard to turn on a television without seeing food – whether it is cooking programs or lifestyle food commercials. Well, from what has originated in South Korea, the big food fad is watching strangers eating. The country is glued to live streams of other Koreans binge eating, to the extent that these eating individuals have now become nationwide micro-celebrities.

In my previous blog post I narrated my experience of diving into the highly popularised South Korean food trend of Mukbang, which recounted my consumption of over 60 minutes of consumption. This time I will be using the autoethnographic methodology to analyse my narrated experience – highlighting my key ‘EPIPHANIES’ and also the assumptions, histories and  prejudices that I am bringing to the investigation. This enables reflection, in order to develop my insights into another culture.

Autobiographers write about “epiphanies”—remembered moments perceived to have significantly impacted the trajectory of a person’s life” (BOCHNER & ELLIS, 1992; COUSER, 1997; DENZIN, 1989)

So this is what I have done, unpacked the significance of my self proclaimed epiphanies to unveil more than just opinion and observations. (more…)

Hatoful Boyfriend

I’ve never had much experience with digital games, especially ones of Asian descent. Which is why this is an area I wish to explore for my independent research project.

Initially my idea was to analyse the well-known game ‘dance dance revolution’ however, I found it almost impossible to get. The download.jpggame has slowly died out due to the introduction of new technologies, such as X-box Kinect where sensors don’t require the classic dance pad anymore (and without a dance pad what’s the point?). Nowadays the game is almost strictly found at game arcades. Unfortunately, my closest arcade is located an hour away from where I live. Too far to dedicate an hour a day, which was my initial goal.

From this I was stuck and was almost about to turn to Pacman but was instead recommended a game called ‘Hatoful Boyfriend.’ The game is a 2011 Japanese visual novel video game that is known for being vastly different. It’s based on the story of a human who attends an elite high school for talented birds.  As the only human in attendance, the game focuses on the in-depth stories and relationships that they share with classmates and teachers.

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To be honest I didn’t do much research on the game before I played it. One thing I did research was ‘strangest Japanese video games‘ and surprise, surprise ‘Hatoful Boyfriend’ was number one. From this I knew I needed to play this game.

I downloaded the game from the Apple App Store for $14.99. The game was downloaded onto my laptop, however, if I were to get it on my phone it would have cost me $8.99. Thinking it might have been easier to play on a larger device I decided to spend the extra $5.99 (I do not recommend this). Pretty quickly, it was up and running and I was able to begin my new life as a simple human trying to find a pigeon boyfriend.

The game introduces you to a number of different characters, both students and teachers. As an added feature the game gives you the option to see these characters in bird form and in human form – is this meant to make it less creepy? Who knows? You follow the storyline until you find out which bird you end up with. Throughout the game you are given options that lead you to alternative paths ultimately deciding which bird boyfriend you end up with. All up there are eight potential boyfriends. To name a few there is the mysterious French transfer student, the childhood friend, the popular upper-class guy and the quiet introvert.

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I’m not going to lie, the game gets boring quickly. Unless you’re invested in the storyline it’s not very entertaining. All up it took me over an hour to finish. You have the option of skipping through text which is a helpful hack if you are playing the game for a second time. Despite the entertainment level, the concept of a visual novel is very cool. The graphics are also extremely beautiful. Each persona is done with traditional Japanese anime characteristics as you can see below:

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While the game itself is not ground-breaking, or something I would even play again, it definitely has me intrigued in the concept of visual novels. Before this game I hadn’t heard of them nor experienced one. This had me asking the questions: How popular are visual novels? Which countries are they popular in? How successful are they? Is it a thing of the future? These questions I hope to explore further in my independent research project.

Through this experience my whole topic for my digital artefact has shifted. Now instead of just exploring Asian game culture I have decided to focus on the impact of visual novels on different societies/ cultures. At the moment my plan is to present my found data in the form of a research essay. I look forward to applying this experience to the background research I will be conducting in my next blog post.

Stay tuned!

Corpse Party Final blog

The Pink Protagonist Writes

The idea for doing a lets play video as part of my own autoethnographic research seemed like a good idea at the time, however that is exactly what I lacked. Time.  And these games really do require time to get into to fully appreciate and enjoy them.

The game itself is actually not that bad. I think, given the chance, I would very much like to go back and try it again. But this time without the pressure to keep a video to a reasonable timeframe. This is a heavily story based game, and you’re meant to take in a lot of information and follow a fair few clues so you can get the ultimate ending. I adored the use of 2-bit animation, and the fact this was coupled with anime cartoons. It really was a well-made game and I can see why it has done so well.

I was definitely…

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