[ISEA2016] Panel: Peichi Chung, Ling-Yi Huang & Bjarke Liboriussen — Games and Gaming in China

Panel Statement

This panel highlights scholarship in the area of games and gaming in the Chinese-speaking world. The panel thus fits a wider pattern of increased attention to regional games and gaming. The three papers explore various “glocalized” ways in which the global and the local—or here, rather, the regional (“the Chinese”)—intersect in terms of design and production of, as well as discourses around (news media coverage, scholarship, fiction), games and gaming in China.

Glocalizing game studies
The development of the Chinese game industry over the last 10 years is well-reported. According to Fan, at the end of 2012 revenue from online and offline PC and mobile games in China stood at just over 60 billion RMB (9.5 billion US dollars), having increased by 33% in 2011 and 35% in 2012. This rapid development has drawn the attention of many scholars, commentators and game producers eager to understand the political, social and commercial implications of increasingly vibrant and diverse gaming cultures (and markets) across the Chinese-speaking world.
This panel has been put together to highlight some of the scholarship currently happening in and related to games and gaming in the Chinese-speaking world. Such scholarship has been on the rise since a 2008 Games & Culture dedicated to gaming in the Asia-Pacific, the edited collections Gaming Cultures and Place in Asia-Pacific (2009) and Gaming Globally (2013),  and the annual Chinese DiGRA conference held since 2014 (with the 2014 conference in Ningbo, the 2015 conference in Beijing, and the 2016 conference planned for Taipei). This regional attention to games and gaming fits a wider trend: 2012 saw the first Nordic DiGRA conference, the autumn of 2014 saw the first Central and Eastern European Game Studies conference, and the number of regional DiGRA chapters is steadily growing. This trend has led Espen Aarseth to compare, with a slightly odd choice of metaphor (diaspora), “the heyday of DiGRA in 2003, when the Utrecht (NL) conference had over 500 participants” with a present situation in which “there seems to have taken place an academic diaspora, into smaller and more glocalized foci and events.”

Glocalization -understood loosely as an ongoing process of negotiation between the global and the local, which is sometimes smooth, sometimes leads to friction- is perhaps fitting as an overarching label for the papers presented in this panel. In “Development and Distribution Strategies of Independent Mobile Games in China”, glocalization is a production and design issue: the paper considers how an “alternative design system that gives rise to local culture and creative talent . . . goes beyond [the] current creative system controlled by major transnational corporations”. “How Active is the Audience? A Study of Chinese Game Fandom” includes discussion of what could be termed the glocalization of theory: how do fandom studies and theory developed in a western context work in relation to Chinese game fandom? Finally, “After the Gold Rush: Gold Farming in China—and in Western Academia, Journalism, and Fiction” draws together existing western scholarship, journalism and fiction dealing with the Chinese gold farming phenomenon and frames coverage in these distinct yet interconnected fields as a case study of how discourses around video game economics resonate with western perceptions of China and its role in the global economy.

  • Peichi Chung, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, HK
  • Ling-Yi Huang, Nanfang College of Sun Yet-sen University, China
  • Bjarke Liboriussen, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China

Full text (PDF)  p. 395-398