Creating Mobile Game Culture: socio-cultural analysis of the Korean mobile gaming in the smartphone era

TitleCreating Mobile Game Culture: socio-cultural analysis of the Korean mobile gaming in the smartphone era
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Jin, D. Y., F. Chee, and S. Kim
Affiliation (1st Author)Simon Fraser University, Canada
Section or WGPopular Culture Working Group
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodePOPW4a
Slot Code (Keyword)POPW4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitlePerforming and Regulating new spaces
Submission ID4919

While Korea has been one of the largest markets in online gaming, the growth of the mobile game business and culture has been notably slow. The mobile gaming scene in Korea has not appeared to match the pace of online PC gaming activities. It did not take too long for the video game industries, however, to witness the growth of mobile games in Korea. The country has taken a big step toward a goal of becoming a ‘mobile game wonderland’ by appropriating smartphones for mobile games, putting behind the days when the self-proclaimed tech giant found itself in a painful position as a “smartphone laggard” through converging smartphones and mobile gaming. In the midst of soaring numbers of smart phone users, mobile gaming has become one of the most exciting youth culture and lucrative game businesses. In this paper, we analyze how mobile gaming has taken shape within the context of Korea’s particular online gaming culture, the conditions of which have favored the PC platform. In order to provide a systematic discussion of popular representations of mobile gaming and its young users, we discuss three distinct modes of discourse. First, it highlights the role of government and regulatory bodies that have played in the pace of mobile gaming activity. Second, we examine how the introduction of smartphones has further shaped the development of Korea’s mobile games, compared with what one might find in other sites around the globe. Third, and most importantly, we discuss our findings regarding how users have factored into the process of rapid diffusion and growth of mobile games. In particular, we aim to draw attention to whether the transfer from online gaming culture to mobile gaming culture is occurring in Korean youth communities, while addressing the local specificities found in the rapid adoption of a global phenomenon in a highly networked, urban setting. By employing socio-historical and institutional analyses along with observational data and in-depth interviews, we seek to advance the extant research and inquiry in mobile gaming studies, the public sphere of popular criticism, state and private policy creation, and social movement critique. In the process, we have used primary and secondary resources such as industry reports and government documents, along with interviews with a preliminary set of 25 young Korean mobile game players in order to show what the manifestations of policy and culture are, as experienced in everyday environments such as work, school, home and in-between. We conducted the interviews in two major Korean cities (Seoul and Daejeon) in summer 2012 with youth 19-29 years of age regarding their use of smartphones, engagement in mobile games, and the broader life circumstances in which we can examine the roles played by these technologies in their lives.

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