Friday, November 27, 2009

South Korea's reception of the iPhone

When I was last there, I had the privilege of chatting with people who wanted the iPhone so badly, and one walked me through the reasons. He actually had an iPhone to use for its various features, even though he had to make calls with his other phone. Talk about deconvergence.

South Korea is all abuzz about finally, really and truly getting the iPhone. As Chang at Web 2.0 Asia remarks, "No more "in Korea, iPhone is the next month phone" joke."

James F. Larson over at Korea's Information Society has also talked about the iPhone and what it means for the explosion of Korea's mobile market and Google's Android phone.

In any case, the iPhone is set for a tough test in this launch for many reasons, not the least of which is the accompanying high expectations of users and those who may look over their shoulders.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Call for Papers, Iowa Journal of Communication

Feel free to distribute widely:

Call for papers: Iowa Journal of Communication

Special issue: Games and Culture: Asia-Pacific perspectives

As a cultural genre, online gaming has been one of the most dynamic in the world. Within a relatively short period of time, online gaming has become a major entertainment tool for fun, but it has also become another channel for human relationships as part of people’s actual lives. The vast popularity of online games around the world has closely coincided with the widespread proliferation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), which have facilitated communication and interaction at an unprecedented level. Through games as well as related activities, youth have used these technologies to nurture friendships through their engagement in online games, instant messaging, blogging, and the like, which assist them in constructing their own tightly-knit communities.

Therefore, the booming online gaming market should be seriously examined in its own socio-cultural circumstances and context vis a vis the global game industry. Primarily due to the accelerated pace of development, the academic research on online games, however, has been correspondingly sparse and limited in scope, with domestic literature tending towards either the celebratory emphasis of positive business development or the problematics of regulation and media effects oriented concerns, such as violence and addiction. While such research comprises important contributions to the emergent scholarship on online gaming, lopsided accounts tend to foreground the readily empirical observations and aggregate data to the exclusion of other possible macro factors such as globalization, intercultural communication, transnationalization of the gaming industry, and micro, more private but resonant problems in family or social life of those concerned.

As a region, the Asia-Pacific area is characterized by diverse penetration rates of gaming and broadband technologies. Two defining locations, Asia (including South Korea and China) and North America, are seen as both online gaming centers and the largest markets to which the world looks towards as examples of the future-in-the-present. Ever since Nexon, a Korean games corporation, introduced the world’s first graphic massively multiplayer online game with ‘Kingdom of the Winds’ in 1996 and two exceedingly popular online games thereafter (Lineage I and II), Korea has played a central role in the PC-based online game market and digital economy. In China, online games are also becoming social spaces, where new social relations, community networks, and a new type of life are formed.

In this special issue to be published in September 2010, we seek to exchange our scholarship on the politics of game play and its associated cultural context by focusing on the burgeoning Asia-Pacific region. Harboring global gaming production and consumption sites such as China, Korea, and the U.S., the region provides a wealth of divergent examples of the role of gaming as a socio-cultural phenomenon. Welcoming a range of presentations, from micro ethnographic studies to macro political economy analyses and beyond, this special issue will provide an interdisciplinary model for thinking through the politics of game production, representation and consumption in the region.

Suggested paper topics discuss games in terms of one of the following areas:

  • History of the growth of online gaming as a global industry, discourse, and media product
  • Critical interpretation of emerging local game industries in Asia and/or North-America
  • Online games and globalization/regionalization
  • Convergent technologies and the impact on established modes of game play
  • Government regulations and types of game play
  • Game fandom and free labor
  • Gaming as social technology/media
  • A culturally specific aesthetic to the production and consumption of certain games
  • New media and experimental gaming
  • Gendered consumption and production of games

Deadline for this special issue of Iowa Journal of Communication: 15th March, 2010. Author(s) should submit all inquiries, expressions of interest and papers to Dal Yong Jin (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology;;

All submissions are peer reviewed by two scholars. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically in Word or Word Perfect format and conform to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and should not exceed 9,000 words in length.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

China rejects rhetoric on internet addiction

This is an interesting development coming out of China:

China's health ministry has turned down the country's rhetoric on internet addiction, and has warned against "boot camp" style approaches for habitual web abusers.

The ministry has issued guidelines for "inappropriate use of internet" saying there was no precise definition of internet addiction, state news agency Xinhua reports.

There are at least a couple of good things coming out of this. Not only is it cracking down on the quackery of the net addiction treatment industry that is proliferating rapidly in China, but it's also (and more importantly) questioning the rhetoric behind addiction, what it is, and whether or not it is appropriate to apply in the case of digital lifestyles. A few researchers like Peele, Alexander, Schaler, recently Clark, have critiqued the cut and paste nature of addiction diagnosis and treatment, including 12-step.

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