Gaming Across Borders: Cross-cultural Analysis of Video Game Play and Narrative (Panel)

Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Comparative Literature

Theodore Harrison (Georgetown University)

Since the 21st century, video games have evolved into a powerful cultural media. While the academic study of video games slowly developed with this evolution, there is still a substantial amount of untouched potential for literary and cultural analysis.

As a global media, video games are inherently cross-cultural. Japanese companies Sony and Nintendo dominate the game console market in direct competition with the American company Microsoft. China’s recent lifting of restrictions on certain types of games as also exposed Chinese players to different genres and narratives. Europe also contributes substantially to the market with companies like Polish game developer CD Projekt Red, developers of the popular Witcher series of games.

During all of this economic and corporate development, gamers across the world have been able to experience emergent narratives and different cultures through playing video games. Certain developers, like Japan’s Hideo Kojima, have also attracted international praise from fans and media critics.

Game genres and narratives are also influenced heavily by their native culture. Massive-Multiplayer Online (MMO) games are extremely popular in Asia and the United States. Japan popularized the "visual novel" and otome style of games which is now popular in the United States and other regions of Asia. The international popularity of some games has led to the formation of professional competitive gaming, or ‘esports,’ leagues - most notably in South Korea were professional Starcraft players are viewed as professional athletes.

This panel will contribute to the greater discussion on the role of video games as a global media as well as encourage a dialogue on the role of games in this cross-cultural exchange of play. Possible examples include fan importation/adaptation of foreign video games, cross-cultural comparison of video game genre and narratives, and the influence of multiplayer and online play on the formation of international player communities.

This panel seeks to encourage cross-cultural comparisons of video games and encourages research and analysis of a woefully understudied topic. Advancements in internet, computer, and communication technology have transformed the way human beings interact through games. These effects influence players and fans across cultures and encourage innovations in games as narratives and interactive media. We hope to contribute to the growing discussion on games as a literary and cultural media.