[Chinese DiGRA 2014] Hanna Wirman on Chinese gaming

[This abstract is from the Chinese Game Studies Conference at Ningbo Nottingham University, Spring 2014.]

Radical gameplay, non-radical innovation?

Hanna Wirman, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The ways in which Chinese gaming is portrayed in English language media conveys a lot of controversy and extremes. Game player community and gamer representations in such reporting varies from addicted players and their treatment centers to highly professional player teams and, further, goldfarmers whose play takes the shape of merchenary grinding. The design and development sector, meanwhile, is characterised in terms of mischievous imitation and copycatting and simultaneously plagued by piracy and limitations such as console bans. However, recently media attention has focused on the fast growing market, investment opportunities and local developers in China. 

This paper takes an approach of Foucauldian discourse analysis to examine the major Western frameworks around Chinese play and contextualises them within the theoretical viewpoints of orientalism and (non-)radical innovation. As an ever-growing field of study, Chinese gamers and game developers have created a game entirely of their own. It may be a modification of what’s been produced elsewhere – proposing a literal ‘sameness’ (Vukovich 2012) – but how problematic is it really?


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