Digital Art in the Age of Social Media: A Case Study of the politics of personalization via cute culture.

Hjorth Larissa
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Undoubtedly, as social media ubiquity spreads, the attendant forms of emerging creativity, collaboration and community further appropriate and adapt Digital Art current trends. As Jean Burgess observes in her studies on YouTube, one of the key attributes of this personalization phenomenon is what she calls “vernacular creativity” [9]. Here Burgess spearheads the amateur / professional nexus that has been transformed through networked social media. In these transformations, the role Digital Art vernaculars play in the divergent world of the global games industry in an age of social, networked media has been given little focus. One such vernacular can be seen in cute culture. As a highly emotional and affective vernacular with its roots in Japanese personalization culture, cute culture has straddled various Digital Art terrains such as gaming and new media. I argue that through charting the cartographies of personalization through cute character culture we can gain insight into Digital Art vernaculars both inside and outside Game Studies. By honing in upon one of the most pervasive modes of Digital Art—cute character culture—this paper provides new ways to conceptualize Digital Art. To focus upon cute culture is to explore an aesthetic that has its genealogy in Japanese technocultures — a realm that has, until recently, been left under-researched in the Englishspeaking world. In a period marked by the increasingly proclivity towards “personalized technologies” it is cute culture, with its history in the rise of Japanese personal technologies from the 1970s, that can lend much insight into the politics and practices of contemporary Digital Art. In this paper I uncover some of the meanings that have caused cute culture to become a lynchpin between so much media converging Digital Art with games in an age in which the personal—epitomized by personal technologies—has a deeply political edge.


Towards a Socio-Cultural Cartography of In-Game Protests

Chan Dean
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

In-game protests are a dynamic part of a burgeoning global cartography of activism and mass mobilisation unfolding across virtual worlds. Such protests nonetheless deserve to be negotiated on their own specific terms if only because these situational inter-plays of political, social, and gaming practices provide a unique means to gain insight into the socio-cultural contexts and imperatives that variously provoke, animate, and enable these acts. By focusing on two extended case study analyses—(1) U.S. artist Joseph DeLappe’s online war memorial and protest project, dead-in-iraq; and (2) the mass protest triggered by the sighting of a Japanese military flag in the Chinese online game Fantasy Westward Journey—this paper is illustrative of interpretive approaches for tentatively mapping and negotiating the sociocultural constituencies of in-game protests. The chosen case studies exemplify how Web 2.0 participatory culture remains informed at base by an acute sense of locality and placespecificity. Such are the grounded premises and possibilities for developing future and further theorisations on the global cartography of in-game protests.