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Visual Rhetoric_Annotated Bibliography #3

Kitami, Kodia, Ryosuke Saga, and Kazunori Matsumoto. (2011). “Comparison Analysis of Video Game Purchase Factors between Japanese and American Consumers.” Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information and Engineering Systems Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume, 6883, 285-294. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-23854-3_30

 Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto’s article looks at psychological factors, going beyond the usual factors of genre and console, that go into consumers’ purchases of video games. The authors begin by constructing “a purchase factor model using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), which [they] use [to] analyze the influences of factors quantitatively” in an effort “to clarify the latent purchase factors of Japanese consumers” (p. 286). They also mention that, while constructing the SEM, they attempted to avoid the subjective nature inherent in constructed models by proposing “a factor model construction process that uses KJ method,” claiming that, with this method, they “can perform a comparison analysis of Japanese and American consumers’ purchase factors in order to develop a game that will be a best-seller in both countries” (p. 286).  The authors state that the KJ method, “developed by J. Kawakita in 1951,” has four steps: “1) Create cards: Establishing a theme and writing ideas and facts related to theme; 2) Make groups: Grouping related cards and labeling groups; 3) Create diagram: Arranging the labeled groups according to directions for casual relationships; and 4) Summarize: Synthesizing the meaning of the completed diagram via text” (p. 288). The authors then break the rest of their article into four sections: 1) “the transition and characteristics of the Japanese and American game industries,” 2) “the creativity technique and proposed process,” 3) a description of the “environments and results of the experiment,” and 4) a discussion of the results.

Figure of the process used by Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto. Located on page 289.

Figure of the process used by Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto. Located on page 289.

For their experiment, the three authors “formed three Japanese groups and three American group…[and] asked these groups to form KJ method, construct six factor models, and analyze purchase factors,” which they then used to “compare the differences in psychological factors between Japanese and American consumers, with their future focus being on university students (p. 289). The authors record that they collected data on 1083 video digital games, “which were evaluated by consumers on the user review site ‘PlayStation mk2’ to analyze purchase factors of Japanese consumers [using] 16 parameters (platform, maker, genre, price, rating (target age), userrank (game rank), playnum (number of players), median (comprehensive evaluation), reviews (number of reviews), originality, sound, excite, amenity, graphics, satisfaction, and difficulty)” (p. 290). And they “collected data on 5764 video games on the user review site ‘IGN Entertainment Games’ to analyze purchase factors of American consumers…[using] 11 parameters (genre, publisher, month (release month), price, platform, rating, graphics, sound, gameplay, lasting appeal, and overall)” (p. 290). The authors concluded that “Game content has a large influence on consumers purchase motivation in both countries; Japanese consumers have strong brand consciousness and conservativeness; Japanese consumers have little consideration for genre and platform; Series information and games expansion strongly affect American consumers’ purchase behavior and overall evaluation; and American consumers prefer education games and games involving physical activity to other games” (p. 293).

I was really excited when I found this article because I was expecting the authors to really hash out the differences in Japanese and American consumers’ values and beliefs that affect the kinds of games that they purchase, which would help me think about the localization efforts of the PlayStation 4 campaign advertisements. However, this text has so many flaws that I am now looking at it for what not to do in the future. The authors left so many gaps in their explanation of their study, leaving me wondering how they chose the three groups of Japanese video game consumers and three groups of American consumers? How many people were in each group? Were these people biased towards different genres? How were they chosen? I also questioned their data collection about video games, as there is a huge difference between collecting data on 1038 games to analyze purchase factors of Japanese consumers and collecting data on 5764 games to analyze purchase factors of American consumers. Why the difference in parameters used for analysis? How did they choose which parameters for each of the countries? And then there is the issue of the sales ratios of video games genres (see below), where the genres are mostly different. Unlike the image of these two countries’ video game markets, both countries’ video game industries have quite a market for all of the genres listed on both pie charts. The family entertainment that is listed so firmly in the American market is predominately from the Nintendo games, with many of them being developed by Japanese studios. And as someone who is a huge role-playing game fan and deeply aware of the culture that surrounds such games, I am deeply wary of that genre not being listed as one of the main genres for the American market. I am not quite sure how the authors really broke down their data to come up with such results, though I am curious about the SEM and KJ method they used, but their study raised more questions than could ever be answered by their text. However, I may be speaking from a staunch source of gaming bias and ruffled RPG feathers.

Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto included two figures breaking down popular genres in Japanese and American video game markets, respectively. Located on page 287.

Kitami, Saga, and Matsumoto included two figures breaking down popular genres in Japanese and American video game markets, respectively. Located on page 287.

To fan or not to fan shouldn’t even be a question

Just Roll with the New Media Concepts_Reading Notes for September 8th

All right, round two with New Media: The Key Concepts!

Image hosted on Giphy.

Image hosted on Giphy.

As a refresher, the book takes six concepts as key components to studying New Media and its threads:

-Network

-Information

-Interface

-Archive

-Interactivity

-Simulation

The chapter on Network was very familiar to me as I had taken a course in the spring that focused on different aspects and theoretical frameworks that revolved around networks (ecological, neural, computer, social, etc). Networks are essential to New Media as computers become ever more integrated into both our working and daily lives. The connections between computers and other such devices, interfaces establishing links between users and users as well as users and information, change not just our means of communication but also how we view our society and one another. One way I visualize this is when I think about people and their relationships with their cell phones. Staying in touch with other people is a big aspect of our current culture, but we use our phones for more than just that. We capture moments (sometimes staged, other times spontaneously) in time through selfies, videos, and pictures, but we also share those moments through social media, emails, text messages, personal websites, blogs, YouTube, and so on. We become creators of content as well as consumers, extending ourselves through the networks.

So many connected. Image hosted on Technoexpress.com.

Sherry Turkle, take it away!

Interactivity interlinks with the networking web of computers, users, and data. According to Gane and Beer, “[Interactivity] is often invoked as a benchmark for differentiating ‘new’ digital media from ‘older’ analogue forms, and for this reason it is not unusual to find new media referred to as interactive media. But herein lies a problem: in spite of the almost ubiquitous presence of this concept in commentaries on new media it is not always clear what makes media interactive or what is meant exactly by the term interactivity” (87). To counter claims that the term “interactivity” has lost some of its power in describing New Media since it has been overused, the authors pull together commentary from various scholars like Lev Manovich and Stephen Graham, “who together give an idea of what the term interactivity might mean in different disciplinary settings, and how it might be put to work as a concept” so long as “it is deployed with precision” (87).  The definition that caught my attention was by Tanjev Schultz: “New media interactivity is, for a start, instantaneous, and tends to work in ‘real-time’. It also, in theory, offers the promise of being more democratic: ‘the formal characteristics of fully interactive communication usually imply more equality of the participants and a greater symmetry of communicative power than one-way communication’” (qtd. in Gane and Beer 95). I found this intriguing because it reminds me of the work being done in my own classes. As my program is a hybrid of on-campus and distance students, collaboration in digital spaces is key. This idea of working in “real-time” (which reminds me of Final Fantasy) makes me think of working as a group in Google docs and seeing everyone moving through the space and entering in their input in view of everyone and at the same time.

As someone who is trouncing into Video Game Studies though the lens of English Studies and wishes to someday work in the industry, interactivity is a very relevant term. Yes, video games are interactive in the sense that players can pick up a controller or put their hands on a keyboard and play within a virtual environment that responds to them in some way, with the experience varying depending on the intuitiveness of the software. But advances in the game engines and the evolution of how developers design game experiences is stepping up that sense of interactivity, often through dialogue wheels that are a more sophisticated form of dialogue trees.

RPGs comparison. Image hosted on a Giant Bomb forum.

RPGs comparison. Image hosted on a Giant Bomb forum.

However, video games are not just about interacting with the software. Networking plays a huge role in video games like massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) like World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, and Guild Wars as well as games played on consoles (Playstation and XBox) like Call of Duty and Borderlands. Here, players from around the world come together, exploring virtual environments, battling and raiding in groups, and sharing in-game expertise between players of varying skill levels. The game space is just as social as it is competitive, building relationships among players through interfaces rather than face-to-face interactions. The hardware and software, though, are not just tools, but participants in the network of gaming experience, nodding to Latour and his Actor Network Theory. I will not go further into that train of thought as I already have longer, more elaborate posts devoted to this topic. On a final note, while reading this book, I found it particularly useful for my ventures into Video Game Studies because video games encompass all of these concepts, working to enhance each aspect so as to be more attractive to players.

Link doing it right. Image hosted on Giphy.

Link doing it right. Image hosted on Giphy.

Citation

Gane, Nicholas and David Beer. New Media: The Key Concepts. Oxford, UK: Berg, 2008. Kindle.

Dancing through the Reading