Foreign and domestic: similarities and differences between video game blogs across the world

While reading both American and foreign blogs about video games over the last few months, I’ve realized there are some distinct differences in how they are written, but they also have many similarities. In this blog post, I’m going to take a look at what distinguishes and connects blogs from across the world.

In order to look at these differences, one first has to look at how the blogs are published. Both blogs from the U.S. and blogs from other countries have multiple ways in which they reach audiences. The first is through the bloggers’s own website, in which they’re the only one who writes and they’re really the only reason to visit the site. This seems to be a popular way to blog in both the U.S and other countries, but the blogs I came across like this seem to get more attention in other countries compared to similar blogs in the U.S. For example, “Sun Rising Blog,” a Japanese blog dedicated to video games and anime, gets comments on many of the articles posted by the only writer, Michael Vincent. Comparable U.S. blogs receive comments sometimes, but it doesn’t appear to be as often as “Sun Rising Blog.” Perhaps this is due to the oversaturation of U.S. centric blogs, that is to say that people wanting to read about games in the U.S. have more places to look to find gaming news they care about. This spreads the consumer base out, leaving many blogs with few readers. People in other countries may have fewer options of what to read when they decide to go search for blogs about their passion, and so the blogs which do exist garner more attention and thus more comments.

When one looks further than one-person websites, however, the amount of community interaction increases drastically both in the U.S and other countries. All around the world there are larger websites which host writings by bloggers, giving the writers a larger audience and the websites which host them more pageviews. Blogs which are featured on sites like these can get hundreds of comments, as opposed to rarely ever making it into the double digits of comments on self-hosted blogs. There are, however, some differences in who hosts these blogs. In the U.S., these blogs are hosted either on sites dedicated to hosting people’s video game blogs, such as Kotaku, or in a section of a dedicated video game news website, such as IGN’s blogs section. In other countries I managed to find video game blog sections on mainstream news websites, such as The Guardians’s video game blogs section. Despite having not been posted to in about a year, The Guardian had something I couldn’t find on similar U.S. websites.

One effect these differing strategies have is the ability for blogs to make it to a mainstream audience. In both cases, they don’t seem to be able to, but in the U.S. people seem to have to go less out of their way to stumble across a blog post. For example, to see a blog about video games on The Guardian’s site, one has to specifically go to the video game blogs section, something which isn’t too easy to accidentally stumble across. Kotaku, on the other hand, is made up entirely of blogs, making it easy for people who go to the website to find them. IGN often features well written blogs on their front page, so consumers of their content also can often stumble across community blogs instead of professionally written articles. While this may make it seem like video game blogging content is easier to find for a normal person in the U.S. (that is, someone who doesn’t typically consume video game news), people in the U.S. would still have to consciously go to IGN or Kotaku to find that content, meaning it seems to be just as unlikely to pop up in everyday life in the U.S. as it is in other countries.

Other countries seem to also have “regular” blogs which feature games in some of their posts. That is to say that instead of the entire blog being about video games, just one or a few posts on the blog are about video games. For example, “Ask a Korean,” a blog about all things within Korean culture, has had a couple of posts dedicated to video games (namely, StarCraft and Homefront), and a few other posts have mentioned gaming or games within them, but the blog itself is not centered around video games. In my search of video game blogs, I did not come across any instances like this in American blogs.

It’s been an interesting few months following blogs from foreign countries I may have never even heard of if not for this class. Seeing just how similar gamers are no matter where they come from creates the feeling of a tight-knit community spanning the planet.

Korean 1000: Soju, the Best Way to Enjoy Korean Culture.

somaek_koreana news

Have you ever drank Soju with Korean guys? Many Koreans loves drinking and dancing called Um-Joo-Ga-Mu(음주가무) in Korean word as old traditional saying since Korean ancestors enjoyed poem and music thousand-hundred year ago; moreover, Korean’s unique drinking cultures stand to tie Korean people together for fun and social relationship.

Some people from outside of Korea might say that drinking soju in Korean culture looks ritual or something like religious ceremony because Korean people have so many rules and ways for drinking Soju. In other words, if you know how to drink Soju in Korean way, it means you are already admitted to get into Korean culture. Soju is Korean traditional hard-liquor like Russian’s Vodka and Japanese’s Sake, but it is very cheap, costing approximately around $1 to $3 per bottle in Korea, so Soju is Korean’s best favorite alcohol, which gives perfect taste especially when you eat Korean BBQ. In the U.S. Soju price goes up high as an imported goods, but Korean people can’t get over from drinking Soju even in the U.S. (You can buy Soju (Jinro) in Columbia, Missouri at HyVee!)
Do you know why Korean people is addicted to drink Soju? Drinking culture is an important component in Korea society to have good relationship with people or to get close with new people, based on Confusion ideas. Korea has the unique tradition that young people should respect seniors or their parents by using specially designed honorific words and manners. This way of social code is shown in the drinking culture as well, which builds strong relationship. If you follow ways from below linked video or general instruction I wrote, I swear to god that all Korean people around you would like you so much immediately! This is basic step as an essential rule, respecting people older than you by using proper ways of drinking soju, showing them respects.

Here is general instruction:
1. Use both hands to hold a Soju glass to receive a shot from old people. (Using one hand in Korea looks rude)
2. Always check all glasses to not be empty. (Empty means you do not care so much)
3. Do not pour your shot. If you’re not youngest person among a group of people, your glass would not be dried up like Step 2. (Koreans do not drink Soju alone or pour soju for his/her self)
4. Do not refill other’s glasses until they finish their shot (Refilling unfinished glass is only allowed for dead people;;;)
5. Drinking starts by suggesting toast. Do not drink your shot before toast.
6. First shot must be “One Shot” (Finish the first shot at once, highly recommend)
7. If you’re younger than others, others will pay your bill. (It’s Korean culture~! Lucky!)
Moreover, Korean’s social values, such as hard-working and collectivism, play as active role for powerful social-drive, so drinking soju with many people is a usual scene after sunset or work. Drinking culture is very fun and active as social value does. “Work hard, play hard” is so true, applying for all around Korea peninsula.

Soju is strong liquor, containing 25% alcohol per bottle (Regular size: 360ml = 12oz) and should be stored in a refrigerator as cold as possible before drinking. This makes for smooth and happy drinking. If you go to Korea, you’ll see frozen Sojus and glasses in refrigerators.

icy cold soju
Because Soju is sometimes too strong to drink, Korean people also love to drink So-Maek, which is made up by mixing Soju + Maek-Joo (=beer). Putting a soju glass into a beer glass is a popular way to make So-Maek(소맥). For entertaining purpose, various ways to make So-Maek are used for better taste and fun.

Best So-Maek receipt
1. Prepare icy cold larger beer and Soju
2. Mix 1/3 amount of Soju based on Soju glass and ½ amount of beer based on beer glass
3. Stir So-Maek followed by your own way (This step is important part! If you have no idea, watch posted videos)
If you like to know Korean culture or plan to go to Korea or Korean town,
all you need to do is starting to drink “SOJU” and “So-Maek”!

Don’t forget Drink responsibly and legally (21+)!
Thank you for reading my posting.

Korean-German Identity: An Interview with Suin Roberts

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Korean nurses pictured outside of St. Johannes Hospital in West Germany

In my last post, I wrote about the German Village, a community of elderly Korean repatriates from Germany on Namhae Island in South Korea. My inspiration for the post stemmed from a recent series of articles in The Korea Times about the nearly 20,000 South Koreans who went to West Germany in the 1960s and ’70s to work as miners and nurses in the wake of the Korean War. Although they were originally under obligation to leave Germany after 3 years, many stayed and started families. As a result, there are 30,000+ people of Korean heritage living in Germany today. To put that in context, that’s the 14th largest Korean population living outside of Korea worldwide and the  2nd largest Korean population in Europe behind the U.K.

Featured in the fourth and final article in the Korea Times’ series on the subject is Suin Roberts, associate professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Dr. Roberts was born in Germany to a Korean miner/nurse couple who decided to stay. She has also written a book called Language of Migration: Self- and Other-Representation of Korean Migrants in Germany and graciously agreed to do the following interview about her personal familial, cultural, and linguistic background for this blog. I’ve compiled a few additional resources for anyone who is interested in learning more about South Koreans in Germany, including a German-language Deutsche Welle article on the question of integration for second-generation Koreans, an English-language post on where to experience Korean culture in Berlin, and a dual German- and Korean-language online forum for cultural exchange.

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Suin Roberts

RK: Your parents were a miner and a nurse who came from Germany in the 1970s, correct? Did they meet in Korea or later, in Germany?

SR: My parents were from South Korea and actually met in Germany. My mother (from Gwangju) went as a nurse and worked in a psychiatric hospital in Langenfeld (in fact, she is still employed there) and my father (from Seoul) worked as a miner in Aachen. Later, he retrained and became an electrician and worked for Bayer (Leverkusen).

RK: What brought your parents to Germany, and why did they decide to stay? Were they involved in the 1977 protests?

SR: My parents had decided to leave Korea for economic reasons and a feeling of wanderlust. They needed to earn money for themselves and their families back in Korea and saw the recruitment to Germany as an opportunity: It was something that could help them escape struggling post-war Korea and in addition to that, it would allow them to see and explore Europe.

During the time of the 1977 protests, they had already been living in Germany for several years. Even though neither of them had originally planned to stay in Germany, they decided to stay, because they had met each other and started a family together. At the time, quite a few Korean nurses, who had already worked in Germany for at least three years, were looking into immigrating to the US. My mother had also applied to a hospital (and received a contract offer) in Chicago, but in the end, my parents decided to stay in Germany, because they thought that the healthcare system in Germany was better and more reliable at the time.

RK: What was the linguistic environment in your home like when you were growing up? How much Germans did your parents speak, and how much Korean did you grow up speaking?

SR: I would say that I was certainly a native speaker of Korean during my first few years, but I don’t remember myself as one. My memory only goes back to preschool (Kindergarten in German, so children between 3-6 years in Germany attend Kindergarten) and by that time, I was completely fluent in German. As long as I can remember, I have always spoken German with my parents. While my parents spoke both, Korean and German, at home, I have always felt more comfortable speaking German with them than Korean. I believe that my parents tried to use more German at home in the beginning, because back in the 1970s and 1980s, migrant parents were told to speak German at home so that their children wouldn’t struggle in school. I did attend a Korean Friday school (a few hours of Korean language instruction provided by a local Korean association), but of course, this type of school was more about socializing with other Koreans and less about language learning. So, not surprisingly, my friends and I would always end up speaking German during recess.

In retrospect, I spoke very little Korean growing up. My interest in Korea and the Korean language is more recent, maybe since graduate school, when I took Korean-language classes and started to explore K-Pop culture.

RK: What was the general attitude toward Koreans in Germany while you were growing up, and what is it now? How does it compare to attitudes in America?

SR: In my home town (ca. 50,000 people), there were only a handful of Korean families while I was growing up. My experiences were mainly positive, which means that I didn’t experience any open racism or discrimination. However, I was teased on playgrounds once in a while for my “exotic” appearance. Overall, however, the general attitude towards Koreans during that time was neutral, I would say, ranging from indifference to friendly interest. Either way, one was perceived as a foreigner (Ausländer) most of the time.

Today, I believe the attitude towards second- and third-generation Koreans in Germany has become more accepting, in that one is now being perceived as a German with migration background rather than an Ausländer. Or to say the least, we are in the process of moving towards this attitude.

Korean-Americans have had advantages: 1. The US has always been perceived as a country of immigration. 2. Citizenship laws are based on ius soli (which Germany (partly) introduced only recently), 3. The English language allows for hyphenated identities (Korean-American), whereas in German, one always has to choose one identity over another  (e.g., Deutschkoreaner). Hence, Koreans in the US may have had a different, maybe smoother road to travel on in terms of identity construction…

RK: Did you grow up surrounded by a Korean community? What is your sense of cultural and national identity?

SR: As I have mentioned, my immediate, local Korean community was very small, however, my hometown is situated between Düsseldorf and Cologne, which boasted bigger Korean communities. I did grow up within a network of Korean family friends. So, there were gatherings and get-togethers, where I heard Korean and had Korean food. There were also fieldtrips and yearly cultural events, which we usually attended.

In terms of cultural and national identity, I believe cultural identity supersedes national identity. While in Germany, where I lived my first 24 years of my life, I felt mostly German, however, also Korean in terms of values and mentality. My lack of Korean language skills kept me from pursuing a stronger Korean identity.

While I have lived in the US now for the last 13 years, I have felt mostly American even though I don’t have American citizenship (yet). But life in the US has shaped me culturally and linguistically. I feel as comfortable speaking English as I do speaking German. Actually, when it comes to my research and work, I prefer speaking English.

How would I self-identify? In terms of national identity, it’s a matter of passports for me. I have a German passport and I have applied for American citizenship, so soon I’ll be a dual citizen. But in terms of cultural identity, I have become a Korean-German-American, in that particular order with the focus being on American.

RK: Have you ever traveled to or lived in Korea? Are you close to extended family members living in Korea?

SR: I have spent two summers in Korea during my teenage years, and most recently, I have been to Seoul in 2008 for conferences and in 2013 for an invited lecture at the Goethe Institut. I would like to go more often and actually, I’d love to live there for a while. Korea has changed so much over the years. It’s become such an interesting place in terms of culture, architecture, nature, etc. It has a lot to offer, and I’d like to explore it more.I have uncles, aunts and cousins, and friends in Korea, with whom I try to visit whenever I am there. Recently, we’ve been communicating on a weekly basis via Kakaotalk, a text messaging app. It is exciting to connect this way.