Our last workshop on „Japanese Videogames Between the Local and the Global“, part of the PaJaKo project, has taken place on September 24-25 2018 at Ritsumeikan University. The event was organized and moderated by Prof. Hiroshi Yoshida from Ritsumeikan University and Dr. Martin Picard from Leipzig University, in collaboration with Jun.-Prof. Martin Roth from Leipzig University. The event was sponsored by Erasmus+, DAAD, and JSPS.

The workshop consisted in presentations from PhD students from Ritsumeikan University, PhD students from Leipzig University in exchange in Japan, and guest lecturers.

For the program, please see: http://www.r-gscefs.jp/?p=9133

You can see reports of our previous workshops here: 1st2nd, and 3rd.

Overall, our four workshops were highly successful. They allowed the exchange students to present their research projects to their peers, to obtain valuable feedback and suggestions, and thus to strengthen their research perspectives. In addition, the participation of guest international researchers contributed immensely to the discussion and to the addition of new insights into our topics. These events helped to strengthen the bonds between participating universities and to develop more fruitful collaborations. We hope to renew the experience in the years to come.

Abstracts of the individual paper contributions

Fanny Barnabé, Liège University

In the Margins of the Game: Some Theoretical Issues About the Video Game Paratext

This paper focused on the concept of “paratext” and on its application to the field of video games. After having exposed the difficulties related to the definition of the notion of paratext (from its first theorization by Genette, until its adaptations to the video game domain by Consalvo or Švelch), the presentation considered two theoretical contributions offered by the concept of paratext to game studies: first, it questions the closure of the game device (showing that the playing experience does not stop at the borders of this device, but circulates through different kinds of media serving as supports and fuel for play) and, secondly, it reveals the intrinsic intertwining of gameplay and fiction in games (paratextual discourses are indeed fundamentally “metaleptic”, as they are located at the border between the fictional world and the player’s empirical gesture). This last aspect of the paratext was illustrated by the study of a corpus of video game guidebooks.

Juhyung Shin, Ritsumeikan University

Ki-neung-sung Games: Serious Games in South Korea

The main aim of this presentation is to explore the use of SGs (serious games) in South Korea, especially for educational context and think about what is lacking for successful future development of KGs (the translation of SGs in Korean) with Play-learner. Loh et. al (2015) used Play-learner to refer players and/or users of serious games. Recently, the popularity of educational board games (non-digital version of KGs) has been increasing and brought into the spotlight. When concerning the use of KGs in different fields and not just for entertainment we should take account for the concept of play learners and fun that motivates players and/or users in the learning process. Not just becoming a learner, enjoying the gameplay and participate actively that is the core meaning of play learner and that is the way to maximize using games.

Shunsuke Mukae, Ritsumeikan University

Where Do Ghosts Hide?: Nested interface and psychic visions in digital game

The more digital media have been used, the less ghosts have been found on them, though representation of ghosts is one of the popular topics in the period of analog camera and VHS. Ghosts have not faded away, but excessively embodied in digital games. However, it is obvious that game designers and gamers are partners in crime that fake up ghosts. In this study, we examine how they have been created and the way they can be more real by analyzing game interface.

Stevie Suan, Doshisha University

“Objecthood” and Anime’s Animation: Individuality, Particularity, and Lifestyle Performance

If animation allows us to envision a world of active objects through animating their movement, then surely how the objects are made to move through the animation changes how they are constituted as actors. In other words, how bodies move in animation, human and object alike, also entails certain conceptions of “self” as it is constituted through the dynamics of its animation. This study aims to (re) consider Donald Crafton’s conceptualization of animation performance forms (embodied and figurative performance), in particular in relation to anime. In embodied acting, the expression of character is produced through particularized movement, where characters are constituted as individuals, each with their own discreet inside and outside. Figurative acting, on the other hand, utilizes various gestures and codified expressions. Due to this reliance on codified expressions, figurative performances build from previous ones, replaying and reiterating them in different contexts. Each of these forms enacts a different conception of selfhood: embodied acting performing the modern conception of individualism bound to the singular body on the object which performs the movement; figurative acting performing a type of „particularity“ rather than „individuality,“ where the self is a composite configured through the citation of codes. Figurative performance thus facilitates an aesthetic well attuned to the contemporary performance of self under the conditions of neoliberalism, as in the dynamics of contemporary “lifestyles,” where people select from pre-existing products to construct an image of themselves through referencing the branded images of the products in distinctive combinations.

Cäcilia Sauer, Leipzig University

Playing by Ear: Audio Games

This paper aims to present the status of the forthcoming Ph.D. Dissertation: „Playing by Ear: Audio Games“ (Working title). The topic of this dissertation is the aesthetics of audio-only games, the particularity of their gaming experience and their social impact on both visually-impaired and sighted players. In the recent years, video games have increasingly focused on visuals. Mainstream games are using graphics to attract their audience, with games like “Assassins Creed Origins” or “Final Fantasy XV” even implementing photo modes for players to take their time to enjoy the “beautiful landscapes”. Yet in Audio Games those “selling arguments” are missing. Audio Games are Games that, rather than graphics, use sound to build up gaming worlds and thus are far more accessible so people with all levels of sight. Up until now, Audio Games have always been more of a marginal phenomenon in video game industry with only smaller indie game companies or fans developing their own acoustical equivalent to visual video games (although in all kind of genres, including racing games, fighting games, RPGs, adventures and so on). In this presentation, I will present the results of the first fieldwork I have done up until now – both in Germany and Japan. Being a rather unknown phenomenon, not much is known about the audio game market in general. So currently I try to collect different data from both audio game players and developers, in order to create some kind of overview about audio game industry and its audience: Why do people play and create games which are rather restricted in their form of expression? Are they even considered as being “restricted”? And are only blind and visually-impaired players interested in this kind of audio-only games?

Kyohei Ito, Ritsumeikan University

The Nose on Vision

The purpose of this presentation is to clarify the role of visual representation of the nose in real and virtual environment. The nose on vision is translucent due to binocular rivalry. In other words, the image of the nose is diluted by the process in the brain. Then does the nose on vision have no role? There is a finding that drawing a virtual nose on the screen reduces motion sickness. This presentation shows the nose as a embodied avatar that affects our physiological phenomena.

Matteo Fabbretti, Ritsumeikan University

Translation and Translators in Japanese video game companies

The presentation focused on Matteo’s postdoctoral research project. Video games are one of Japan’s main cultural exports, but Japanese video game firms have traditionally been quite secretive about their practices, so not much is known about the practical constraints that video game localizators face when working in Japan. This presentation focused in particular on the question of how to investigate localization processes in Japan, as well as the roles and professional identities of localizators working in the field of video games.

Yasuo Kawasaki, Ritsumeikan University

Introduction of My doctoral research and Current Research Project :“Comparing analysis of history of Game Arcade”

Game Arcade (or Game Center) is amusement facilities that managed coin-operated devices. Japanese game arcade have important features such as „Forms of operation“ in various game corner. Form of operation of arcade managed coin-operated devices on facilities of different types of business. But previous research ignored various Forms of operation, and advanced only research of Independent Stores as game arcade facilities. For that reason, the purpose of my doctoral study is to clarify social fixing process of game arcade in Japan that includes various Forms of operation. In this presentation, I introduce my doctoral study and current analysis objects named „Comparing analysis of Game Arcade between Japan and other country“. Current Game arcades have different status between Japanese and other countries. Outside of Japan, game arcades  basically declined or changed to other facilities. Related to that, this study analyzes the reasons why Japanese game arcade continue in certain markets and states. Especially, this presentation analyzes the phenomenon from the viewpoint of the law of regulation.

Kim Illim, International Research Center for Japanese Studies

The invention of Japanese dimension by the avant-garde and the arrière-garde : From Super Flat to the 2.5 Dimensional

Since the beginning of the 21st century, terms on flatness have frequently appeared in Japan. This phenomenon is common in the discourses of Japanese art and subculture. Flatness has been referred to not only as a Japanese original visual style but also as the spirit of Japan. That is to say, flatness has been regarded as Japanese originality which is independent of the West. In this sense, Japanese Otaku and intellectuals have constantly developed new terminologies and concepts related to flatness such as “Super Flat”, the “2-dimensional” and the “2.5-dimensional”. This study aims to clarify attributes of Japanese dimension by analyzing the terminologies, concepts and discourses which have been invented by both groups, intellectuals and anonymous Otaku.

“Super Flat” and the “2.5-dimensional” are similar in that they deny geometric logic and reality. This point is precisely where Japanese originality has emerged in the 21st century. Otaku and intellectuals have built a new world by inventing their own terms, concepts, and contexts. Words that even had previously clear meaning structures can be reborn in the Otaku world. Otaku have established their own language system. The way anonymous Otaku and certain intellectuals encroach on the existing language world is exclusive. We need to notice that Otaku terminologies frequently link with existing language systems. As can be seen from “Super Flat” and the “2.5-dimensional” case, it often causes ironic situations. Discourses have been repeatedly invented and propagated around such ironic situations.

Goki Atoyama, Ritsumeikan University

I must set these things down in writing: Tamiki Hara and Memory of the A-Bombing

This presentation aimed to show the two opposite attitude in the work written by Tamiki Hara. He wrote that „I must set these things down in writing“ in Summer Flower. However he also wrote about the memorial museum as a cursed device. Kenkichi Yamamoto who is famous critic and Tamiki’s friend criticized that Tamiki described himself as a memorial museum. According to this, Tamiki criticized himself as a cursed device. On my presentation, I focused on these two attitudes and I will show how Tamiki memorized that experience of Hiroshima through focussing on style of writings.

Luca Bruno, Leipzig University

Visual Novel Characters as Intersubjective Communicative Constructs: Research Overview and Possibilities

This presentation approaches characters within Japanese visual novel games as Intersubjective Communicative Construct (ICC, Thon 2016), in light of the long-running data-ification of their constitutive design elements. An ICC is the bare-minimum amount of information about something which must be agreed upon by two or more people for them to be discussing the same thing. It has been used (Ibid.) to describe storyworld before individual perception and media specificities. The same term can be used to describe Japanese characters whose constitutive design elements are increasingly catalogued and data-ified in apparently flat and un-hierarchical ways (cf. Azuma 2007, 2009, Kacsuk 2016) and especially prevalent in the industries revolving around Akihabara (Suan 2017). However, due to the potential for influencing stories possessed by character design elements and the hierarchical nature of certain combination of elements, Akihabara characters are arguably neither flat nor unlimitedly re-combinable. The employment of the ICC concept allows to avoid resorting to implicit or fan-based knowledge while also building connections with other disciplines such as game studies, narratology, media studies and more.