PhD Oral Exam - Sarah Christina Ganzon, Communication
Playing at Romance: Otome Games, Globalization and Postfeminist Media
This event is free
School of Graduate Studies
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
Otome games is a category of games originated in Japan that are marketed specifically to women. While genres in this particular category tend to range from RPGs to visual novels (the latter being the most common), they notably have the following common features: these games contain a system that allows the female player character to form relationships with the mostly straight and predominantly male game characters, they have simple controls, and they are related to other multimedia products, often imitating plots and art styles from manga and anime. Moreover, romance is often features as a part the games' narratives, often imitating plots from shoujo manga. Although otome games occupy a niche sector of the game industry in its country of origin, the number of titles that are being adapted for audiences outside of Japan have steadily increased during the past decade.
This thesis explores this largely unexplored category of games, its players and the ways in which these titles have migrated out of Japan. Focusing on games, platforms and its predominantly female fandom, I examine cultural sensibilities, economies and online social formations that allow these migrations to happen. I apply a mixed-methods approach of textual analysis and interviews to help formulate my analysis of these games and the fan communities, which operate quite similarly to Radway's book clubs. The results of this study indicate how communities and postfeminist media cultures both allow women to shape discourses around gender and romance, but also at the same time limit these discourses in ways that are beneficial to companies that create and localize these games.