Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Week 7 When West Meets East: Glocalization and the contemporary Japanese game industry

When West Meets East
Mia Consalvo’s “Console Videogames and global corporations: creating a hybrid culture” investigates the commodification of cultures to interrogate how the industry of games and game consoles complicate conventional understandings of national culture and geographic borders (123) through the lens of globalisation theory. At the heart of her argument about the glocalisation of games and the cultural flow of capital, Consalvo complicates the “West-rest” hierarchy by suggesting that in contemporary game industry, the power dynamics between East and West has been inverted to “Japan-West”—positioning Japan as being equal to the West—while simultaneously fostering discourses of the “yellow peril” or as Consalvo puts the “Japan panic”. Drawing on the work of Tomlinson’s notion of culture as a fluid entity, Consalvo suggests that “If the nation is no longer the boundary of culture, another unit of measurement must be created” (131). Consalvo espouses the idea of technoregionalism, a term which she borrows from Luke that describes how “regions are not place based, but correspond to specific industries, trades, arts and sciences” (131). Ultimately, then, both the glocalisation and the globalisation of game consoles are heavily influenced by and invested within a capitalist industry. Countries that possess or have access to capital are the ones that benefit from the glocal and global phenomenon, but what about those countries that get left behind? Consalvo contends that “culture flows to survive, and as it flows, it shifts, warps, changes and modifies, to become hybridized, strange and new” and indeed this is applicable only to cultures that are equipped with the proper resources and finances.
Consalvo’s main argument that Japan represents the nexus of capital flow and power is contradicted by Inafune Keiji who sees the decline of Japanese games within the global market. He states that “I believe that in Western or other parts of the world, they all liked Japanese games from the past and benefitted from them. They had a significant amount of influence in game development around the world, but that's all from the past. Because Japan is not in a healthy state right now, not everybody is being influenced by us now.” Here, Inafune conveys sentiments of a nostalgic past when Japanese game systems/games once held economic and global sway. The implicit claim that Japan’s well-being relies on the nation’s participation on a global scale reveals Inafune’s anxiety of a deterioration of Japanese identity.
In relation to Aoyama and Izushi’s “Hardware gimmick or cultural innovation? technological, cultural, and social foundations of the Japanese video game industry”, I was particularly drawn to their discussion near the end of their article that explores the significance of the manga and anime industry to the development of the game industry. Although much is said on the topic of how video games have borrowed and adapted conventions of anime and manga as well as its aesthetic styles, the opposite is also manifest in contemporary works of anime and manga that borrow elements of games/ game culture.
 Meganebu: This anime employs conventions of visual novels, and also plays with panels transitions that are distinct to manga. There is something 3D-ish about the visual aesthetics that reminds me of videogames too.
Sword Art Online

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