It's been far too long. I have quite a few updates that I'd like to share with you. Life has been pretty wonderful as of late, especially in terms of my progress on making my mark on the game industry. Get ready for one longggg blog post.
When starting this blog for my undergraduate mass communication class, I never imagined that it would turn into my baby. I am incredibly proud of all of the content that I've produced, and it made me happy just to know that one person appreciated my thoughts. Last May, Nick Boisson, games section editor at Comics Bulletin, reached out to me regarding my last post on the Nintendo Play As You Are campaign. I actually mentioned Nick in my post, since he did an excellent write-up on the story. First off, I was floored that someone even noticed my blog. Second, I was beyond excited to learn that Comics Bulletin wanted me to contribute to the games section of the site.
I accepted the opportunity and the rest is history. While I've only written a few articles for the site, it has been an amazing learning process to write for a much wider audience. My favorite article on Comics Bulletin would definitely be my coverage of Brosie. I'd prefer that you read the article for yourself, but the story basically revolves around a female employee at publisher Meteor Entertainment. The employee pulled a prank on her boss by switching out a sexist piece of video game art with an ironic male counterpart. The stunt helped illustrate that it is possible to discuss gender in an open, honest, and comical manner.
The absolute best part of all this is that the woman who initiated the prank, and subsequently facilitated a whole lot of important dialogue on the subject, actually reached out to me on Twitter and said that she loved my analysis! I had a complete dork moment when this happened, because it is just so refreshing to know that your voice has been heard and respected. Check out my contributions to Comics Bulletin thus far:
I'm currently on hiatus from Comics Bulletin as I orient myself to the first semester of graduate school and as the site overhauls the video game section. I'm hoping to return to some form of writing outside this blog around December, so be on the look out!
I recently moved to the greater Atlanta area to start my master's program at Kennesaw State University. It seems like some people get intimidated by the technical name of my degree, Masters of Art in Integrated Global Communication, but I'm basically expanding my communication knowledge into the international realm. I am absolutely loving it so far. My professors and surrounding faculty are experts in the field and challenge me every single day. The best part is that the program is incredibly personalized. I am constantly encouraged to pursue my specific interests by tailoring the program content to the field I plan on working in - gaming.
I am currently formulating my research questions for future semesters and my international study abroad in Japan. While research proposals can be fairly stressful, it is so exciting to see your ideas come together and find out what you are most interested in. My fellow cohort members poke fun at me, because I seem to know exactly what I want to study and where I want to study it. This isn't completely the case, though. I've actually had an epiphany on quite a few fronts. I knew that I wanted to study the portrayal of women within the games industry, but I've decided to expand this research into gender studies at large. I just don't think I'll be able to fully understand gender issues in the field if I'm only looking at it from one perspective.
This process has also made me realize that my research interests are inherently tied to reputation management and corporate social responsibility. This terminology goes back to my public relations roots. While it might just seem like just a bunch of jargon, these areas are extremely important for video game developers and publishers. As our society becomes increasingly concerned about gender equality, this will have serious implications for the industry. In a sense, video game characters represent their parent companies. These companies are becoming much more responsible for creating characters that combat stereotypes in order to not only satisfy the bottom line but society at large. This responsibility isn't necessarily something that is going to appear overnight, but I definitely believe it is brewing.
I will be conducting part of this independent research in Japan during my semester abroad. I find it very important to understand issues in the Japanese market as a way to understand our problems at home. Japan is essentially the birthplace of gaming, after all. Interestingly enough, part of our grade for the summer program involves blogging! I can definitely say that I've got that one in the bag ;)
While applying to my graduate program, I started doing research on potential video game scholarships. It can be a little difficult on my end, because I am not actually developing the games. It is rare to stumble upon an industry-related scholarship that focuses on the business and communications side of gaming. Thankfully, the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences sponsors two different scholarships each year - the Randy Pausch and Mark Beaumont Scholarship. Mark Beaumont, former COO of Capcom North America and Europe, passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack in 2010. To honor this industry veteran, the AIAS established a scholarship aimed at students pursuing careers specializing in the business of interactive entertainment.
I was so ecstatic to find a scholarship that recognized the other side of gaming, because I think people often forget that there is a whole sector of professionals who keep the industry running. I was even more excited when I received the email informing me that I was being awarded the scholarship! To be honest, this scholarship has been a blessing for me. I've faced some financial difficulty in the last year that nearly affected my ability to attend graduate school. It is incredibly reassuring to receive not only financial, but motivational support, that let's you know you've made the right decision.
The scholarship isn't just a big deal in connection to Mark Beaumont. The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences is also a big name in the industry. A nonprofit organization interested in the advancement of interactive arts, AIAS is best known for hosting the D.I.C.E. Summit and Interactive Achievement Awards. As a part of my scholarship win, the academy has offered a complimentary pass to D.I.C.E. Along with three other recipients, I will be traveling to Las Vegas in February for the event. This is a huge opportunity to network with some of the industry's best and learn more about the most innovative achievements in gaming. In fan girl speak, yeeeeee I can't believe I get to go!!
I was also asked to participate in an interview with the AIAS as a part of the scholarship. I really feel like it's a good reflection of who I am and where I want to go in games, so I've included it as a page on this blog! Make sure to take a peek, and be on the lookout for my commentary on the summit once February comes along.
Cosplay & Conventions
As I've mentioned previously, my addiction to gaming and anime conventions goes far back to my father taking our family to cons at a young age. It's difficult to attend cons without becoming even a little bit interested in the world of cosplay. I've always wanted to learn how to sew, since the skill runs deep in my blood (both of my grandmothers were seamstresses). I started taking sewing classes about a year ago to develop the basics for creating costumes. It has been a great, and at times frustrating, learning experience that has helped me realize how much I love the con world. I put on a costume for the first time at Momocon last March and couldn't believe the awesome feedback. Dressed as Rukia from Bleach, it was so fulfilling to see that I was able to make other people happy with just one picture.
Well, that's all for now, friends. I apologize for being away from the blog and my likely hiatus until December. I'm determined to do my absolute best in this graduate program, which means school comes first. I will try to post some shorter entries, or at the very least, update everyone on my research progress.
As usual, until next time!