Dislocating Chineseness: Struggles of Chinese Mobile Game Production in Going Abroad

All Abstracts > Dislocating Chineseness: Struggles of Chinese Mobile Game Production in Going Abroad

Dislocating Chineseness: Struggles of Chinese Mobile Game Production in Going Abroad

Author | Affiliation:
Yizhou Xu | UW-Madison

Presenting at:
Panel 1B |  Games and E-sports


Abstract:

In recent years, Chinese mobile game developers have become major players in the global gaming market. According to App Annie (2019), Chinese mobile game revenue have increased by over 60% in the past 2 years led by notable players such as Tencent and NetEase. At the same time, due to competition and regulations at home, smaller Chinese companies are increasingly turning toward emerging markets in Southeast Asia and the Middle East as new sources of revenue. Drawing from my ongoing fieldwork experiences working as a mobile game localizer in Guangzhou, I look at the roles of localizers as cultural gatekeepers in demarcating the flows of Chinese content abroad. Taking cues from a range of ethnographic approaches including the methods of “insider ethnography” of working in the industry along with interviews with workers at other mobile game companies in China such as Tencent, NetEase, FunPlus and eFun, I want to addresses some of the strategies and tactics Chinese app developers use to adapt Chinese games abroad. I argue the process of localization is not merely a one-way Street between the East to the West, but rather a constant negotiation among sets of actors, political institutions, platforms infrastructures, and corporate logics that requires new perspectives in dissecting the complex ways by which culture is translated from and within China. It raises interesting questions as to the extent of the roles of cultural brokers and localizers in demarcating the flows of content globally. By the end, localizing Chinese games for the global market is not so much about preserving aspects of Chinese culture but rather the often uneven and disjointed process by which Chineseness is rendered legible for the global audience. 


About the author

Yizhou Xu

Email: yxu327@wisc.edu

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