Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Beyond the United State of Play

After days of low-energy, panel-based presentations in State of Play II, the high-point of Saturday for me was the lecture of Leo Sang-Min Whang from Yonsei University. He started ut with correcting several of the other speakers who had been talking about the situation of games in Asia, and correcting them with updated numbers on for instance broadband penetration in Korea, the number of gamers and the use of games in different Asian cultures.

Whang also delivered several very sensible, almost common-sensible statements, which keep being forgotten in the gaming culture debate. He addressed addiction, multiple personality disorders and culture shock, and had an extremely down-to-earth view on this, which was funded in his training as a psychologist. I particularly enjoyed the way he pointed out that to be addicted to novels is a good thing, while being addicted to games is considered bad. Addictions are culturally defined. If we looked at all the important things in our lives, most of us are probably addicted to a great many things - it is just that our addictions are socially and culturally acceptable.

For the numbers he quoted, I recommend you all to go watch his presentation in the video time capsule. The research he is doing is ambitious, and the results are interesting. Comparing gamers from Korea, Japan, Singapore and China, from 2001 and through 2005, all playing Lineage, he has his job cut out for him. I am waiting with happy anticipation for the results to be published in a language I can read. Until then, I am happy I got to hear Whang talk, although I think he had definitely deserved a better slot than the lunch hour.

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