Tokyo Trip DiGRA Final Thoughts

Funny how being away for a week means you are buried under a mountain of grading.

So Japan and DiGRA was really fun. After about three days I was ready to come home though.
There were lots of interesting papers at the conference.
Although I’m more of a qualitiative kind of guy it seems as if most of the ones I saw dealing with players were quantitative in nature — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Fact that they don’t tell you about Japan:
Although they have some really nice packaging, they love to put things in bags. No matter what or how little you buy they will put it in a plastic bag. I went to McDonalds one morning because I was hungry for American style breakfast. They put my order in the McDonalds paper bag and then put that bag into a clear plastic bag.

Although the conference was in Japan the majority of the panelists were still white people. I didn’t see anyone of African decent. So we have a lot of work to do in making games studies more multicultural.

This didn’t surprise me any but it was interesting to see that Scandanavia is still really the hotbed of games studies. Americans were few and far between. As such there were a lot of people who knew each other. I met a few people but overall the language barrier and not knowing anyone led to a kind of lonely trip.

Fact they don’t tell you about Japan:
They drive on the left. Now I knew that, but it didn’t really sink in until the second day when I was trying to cross the street and looked the wrong way and almost got ran over by oncoming traffic.
The corollary of this is that they also tend to walk on the left side of the sidewalk. That’s something I’ve always wondered about with countries that drive on the left. I constantly found myself walking against the flow of pedestrian traffic only to realize what was wrong after a few minutes. This really mattered on escalators. On most of them it is courteous in Japan to stand on the left side so that people in a hurry can run up (or down) the right side. Of course I always found myself stepping on the escalator and standing on the right side out of force of habit.

At the conference it was fun to put faces to names that I’ve read and in some cases communicated with for years. There were a couple cases were I have been trying to connect with some IU people but had to go all the way to Japan to finally meet them or I hadn’t seen them since the Vancouver conference two years ago. My panel also happened to have an IU graduate on it. Funny how you have to travel almost literally half way around the world to meet people that are at the same school as you!

Over all the conference was nice. It was quite good to be around people who had read (most of) the same things and know the subject matter. I didn’t even have to explain what I meant in my paper when I was throwing around the US and Japanese names for the Nintendo or what 2600 meant! Although there are people here at IU that study games, the department has been very supportive of my project and we are hiring someone for a “digital media” position, it can get a bit frustrating not to have anyone around to talk to about such questions as, “Why makes Final Fantasy a “role-playing” game?” I probably know more about film theory and film history than the average guy on the street but my dvd collection looks a lot different from the collection of most of my colleagues and whenever I have to talk about film in one of my classes there is always one student who knows a lot more of the nitty gritty details than I do.

So my trip was a good one. Even if it did leave me broke and in debt (click those ads!). I look forward to the next one. (Of course I have to finish my paper for the conference in Vancouver I’m going to next weekend first…)

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