Replaying Japan is an international conference dedicated to the study of Japanese video games. For the first time this year, the conference is held online and will combine various types of research contents (videos, texts, livestreams) on the theme of esport and competitive gaming in Japan.
This year the Replaying Japan conference was held online. The conference was originally going to be in Liège, Belgium at the Liège Game Lab. We were going to get to try Belgian fries and beer and learn more about the Game Lab. Alas, with the pandemic, the organizers had to pivot and organize an online conference. They did a great job using technologies like Twitch and Minecraft.
Keiji Amano, Tsugumi (Mimi) Okabe, and I had a paper on Ethics and Gaming: A Content Analysis of Annual Reports of the Japanese Game Industry presented by Prof. Amano. (To read the longer conferencer paper you need to have access to the conference materials, but they will be opening that up.) We looked at how major Japanese game companies frame ethical or CSR (corporate social responsibility) issues which is not how ethics is being discussed in the academy.
The two keynotes were both excellent in different ways. Florent Georges talked about First Steps of Japanese ESports. His talk introduced a number of important early video game competitions.
Susana Tosca gave the closing keynote. She presented a nuanced and fascinating talk on Mediating the Promised Gameland (see video). She looked at how game tourists visit Japan and interviewed people about this phenomenon of content tourism. This was wrapped in reflections on methodology and tourism. Very interesting, though it raised some ethical issues about how we watch tourists. She was sensitive to the way that ethnographers are tourists of a sort and we need to be careful not to mock our subjects as we watch them. As someone who loves to travel and is therefore often a tourist, I’m probably sensitive on this issue.
The Replaying Japan Journal has issued a call for papers for Issue 3 with a deadline of September 30th, 2020. See the Current Call for Papers – Replaying Japan. The RJJ publishes original research papers on Japanese videogames, game culture and related media. We also publish translations, research notes, and reviews.
The RJJ is available online and in print, published by the Ritsumeikan (University) Center for Game Studies (See the RCGS English Pamphlet too). Inaba, Mitsuyuki is the Editor in Chief and Fukuda, Kazafumi is the Associate Editor. I and Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon are the English Editors.
Articles in either Japanese or English are accepted. The Japanese Call for Papers is here.
Today was the last day of the CSDH / SCHN 2020 online conference. You can see my conference notes here. The conference had to go online due to Covid-19 and the cancellation of Congress 2020. That said, the online conference web brilliantly. The Programme Committee, chaired by Kim Martin, deserve a lot of credit as do the folks at the U of Alberta Arts Resource Centre who provided technical support. Some of the things they did that
- The schedule has a single track across 5 days rather than parallel tracks over 3 days. See the schedule.
- There were only 3 and half hours of sessions a day (from 9:00am to 12:30 Western time) so you could get other things done. (There were also hangout sessions before and after.)
- Papers (or prepared presentations) had to be put up the week before on Humanities Commons.
- The live presentations during the conference were thus kept to 3 minutes or so, which allowed sessions to be shorter which allowed them to have a single track.
- They had a chair and a respondent for each session which meant that there was a lot of discussion instead of long papers and no time for questions. In fact, the discussion seemed better than at on site conferences.
- They used Eventbrite for registration, Zoom for the registrants-only parts of the conference, and Google Meet for the open parts.
- They had hangout or informal sessions at the beginning and end of each day where more informal discussion could take place.
The nice thing about the conference was that they took advantage of the medium. As none of us had flown to London, Ontario, they were able to stretch the conference over 5 days, but not use up the entire day.
All told, I think they have shown that an online conference can work surprisingly well if properly planned and supported.
This morning at 7am I was up participating in a DARIAH VX (Virtual Exchange) on the subject of The Scholarly Primitives of Scholarly Meetings. This virtual seminar was set up when DARIAH’s f2f (face-2-face) meeting was postponed. The VX was to my mind a great example of an intentionally designed virtual event. Jennifer Edmunds and colleagues put together an event meant to be both about and an example of a virtual seminar.
One feature they used was to have us all split into smaller breakout rooms. I was in one on The Academic Footprint: Sustainable methods for knowledge exchange. I presented on Academic Footprint: Moving Ideas Not People which discussed our experience with the Around the World Econferences. I shared some of the advice from the Quick Guide I wrote on Organizing a Conference Online.
- Recognize the status conferred by travel
- Be explicit about blocking out the time to concentrate on the econference
- Develop alternatives to informal networking
- Gather locally or regionally
- Don’t mimic F2F conferences (change the pace, timing, and presentation format)
- Be intentional about objectives of conference – don’t try to do everything
- Budget for management and technology support
For those interested we have a book coming out from Open Book Publishers with the title Right Research that collects essays on sustainable research. We have put up preprints of two of the essays that deal with econferences:
The organizers had the following concept and questions for our breakout group.
Session Concept: Academic travel is an expense not only to the institutions and grant budgets, but also to the environment. There have been moves towards open-access, virtual conferences and near carbon-neutral events. How can academics work towards creating a more sustainable environment for research activities?
Questions: (1) How can academics work towards creating a more sustainable environment for research activities? (2) What are the barriers or limitations to publishing in open-access journals and how can we overcome these? (3) What environmental waste does your research produce? Hundreds of pages of printed drafts? Jet fuel pollution from frequent travel? Electricity from powering huge servers of data?
The breakout discussion went very well. In fact I would have had more breakout discussion and less introduction, though that was good too.
Another neat feature they had was a short introduction (with a Prezi available) followed by an interview before us all. The interview format gave a liveliness to the proceeding.
Lastly, I was impressed by the supporting materials they had to allow the discussion to continue. This included the DARIAH Virtual Exchange Event – Exhibition Space for the Scholarly Primitives of Scholarly Meetings.
All told, Dr. Edmonds and DARIAH colleagues have put together a great exemplar both about and of a virtual seminar. Stay tuned for when they share more.
Video chat is helping us stay employed and connected. But what makes it so tiring – and how can we reduce ‘Zoom fatigue’?
Many of us have suspected that videoconferencing is stressful. I tend to blame the stress of poor audio as my hearing isn’t what it used to be. His a story from the BBC on The reason Zoom calls drain your energy. There are a number of factors:
- The newness of this way of interacting
- The heightened focus needed to deal with missing non-verbal cues.
- Heightened focus needed to deal with poor audio.
- Need to moderate larger groups so people don’t try to talk at the same time
- Audio delays change responsiveness
- Stress and time around technical problems.
- Silences don’t work the way they do in f2f. They can indicate malfunction.
- Being on camera and having to be performative
- Lack of separation of home and work
- Lack of transition times between meetings (no time to even get up and meet your next appointment at the door)
I hadn’t thought of the role of silence in regular conversations and how we can’t depend on that rhetorically any longer. No dramatic silences any more.
Now that all of us are having to teach and meet over videoconferencing on our laptops, it is useful to get advice from the professionals. Chelsea sent me this link to Ryerson professor Gary Gould’s advince on How to Look and Sound Fabulous on a Webcam. The page covers practical things like lighting, positioning of the camera, backgrounds, framing and audio. I realize I need to rethink just having the laptop on my lap.
We are all having to learn how to do more remotely. This series of blog posts deals with the why, the what and the how of online conferences.
Open Book Publishers has just published a series of blog entries on Econferences: why and how? A blog series. This series adapts some of the interventions in a forthcoming collection I helped edit on Right Research: Modelling Sustainable Research Practices in the Anthropocene. We and OBP moved quickly when we realized that parts of our book would be useful in this time when all sorts of scholarly associations are having to move to online conferences (econferences.) We took two of the case studies and put preprints up for download:
I have also written a quick document on Organizing a Conference Online: A Quick Guide.
I hope these materials help and thank Chelsea Miya, Oliver Rossier and Open Book Publishers for moving so quickly to make these available.
Today I gave a short talk at the Digital Synergies Launch Event. The launch included neat talks by colleagues including:
I showed and talked about Lexigraphi.ca – The Dictionary of Worlds in the Wild. This is a social site where people can upload pictures of text outside of books and documents and tag the words – text like tatoos, graffiti, store signs and other forms of public textuality.
Last week the Oregon Humanities Center put on a great two-day conference on Engaged Humanities Partnerships Between Academia And Tribal Communities that I attended. (See my conference notes here.) The conference looked at ways that the humanities can partner with indigenous communities.
One of the highlights was Jennifer O’Neal’s talk about the importance of decolonizing the archives and work she is doing towards that. You can see a paper by her on the subject titled “The Right to Know”: Decolonizing Native American Archives.
I talked about the situation in Canada in general, and the University of Alberta in particular, after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
This weekend I was at the Linked Infrastructure For Networked Cultural Scholarship (LINCS) Team Meeting 2019. The meeting/retreat was in Banff at the Banff International Research Station and I kept my research notes at philosophi.ca.
The goal of Lincs is to create a shared linked data store that humanities projects can draw on and contribute to. This would let us link our digital resources in ways that create new intellectual connections and that allow us to reason about linked data.