Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Game: Gamification in the American Otaku space.

Ah the internet,

Since the beginning of Otaku-dom the one thing that has forever existed amongst groups of otaku (be it a small circle, or a massive population) is the need to one-up the next person. That's called competitive social gamification. From high school anime club shenanigans, to the online masses carrying out otaku holy war, this Darwinian phenomenon has kept anime going simply by instilling the need in its followers to “keep up with the Joneses” and not only instill the need to buy the same types of things the surrounding otaku are buying, but to find that one ever slightly more obscure item and then show it off.

Mine's bigger than yours.

The flamage, debate, autographs, con badges, video libraries, pvc figures, and all that pile up until one can rise no further in the game without a major change and an ascension into a level of fandom or industry that is off limits save for a select few (such as having work actually published, getting a regular gig on TV, producing or licensing anime, and so on). However, once one enters such an area, it can be argued that the label “otaku” no longer can apply, since paid work and fandom activities have always been seen by some as forever incompatible and irreconcilable when defining the activities and lifestyle that is “otaku” in the United States.

When seeking to retain control of an entity, be it an anime club or website, or a publicly traded company, there is always this aforementioned ongoing need, acting on all things that the leadership of that entity must do. The further from the source of the fandom’s consumption, the more challenges that the leadership will get, hence school anime club leaders are always getting challenged by little peons who think they are “moAr otaku” (sic), while the executive board of a major company is more or less totally immune to such things.

Enter the idiots who can not seem to figure out this long operating principle. Those who take this otaku one-upmanship to the extreme and cross those lines into the upper echelons to do battle in this way, only to be embarrassed throughout the onlooking masses, in all corners of the fandom save one, inside their own head. Gophers don’t talk to the Con Chair, Fanfic Writers may not look DelRey directly in the eye, and cosplayers are not allowed into the industry only section of TAF unless someone is paying them to be there (ie boothgirls). There are lines you have to cross first, and achievements you must attain before you can engage on such a different level.

And so it is with this in mind that I must say that although it can be a fun distraction to entertain such plebian antics, they should not be carried on at a length as to constitute an impropriety. So to you “General” Beefy, I must say that it has been amusing, but seeing as how we have now come to that point, and you still insist on carrying on some kind of contest, I am going to have to respond in a way not as to agitate but to educate (Death to Smoochy reference). Educate you like a true General would have to talk to a Private Boy Scout about the laws of talking anime mechanics, weather those mechanics be of fandom, production, licensing, or any other facet or combination thereof of anime and Japanese pop-culture. I shall respond, oh yes I shall respond. But not for you. Rather, to serve as example of what a person should not do, say, or allow themselves to become, by throwing your intellectually lacking ramblings into the spotlight. AWO I’ll have that wav file ready as soon as I get my mic from the Ninja Consultants... probably tomorrow).

But Beefy, before you cry foul that someone from the ivory tower is using an unfair advantage, how about I just go ahead and out-otaku on your own terms anyway:

I don’t know if this Beefy character is going to read this, but if he is then my message to him would be to shave, get a haircut, buy a pair of real shoes (no, Altama and Magnum don’t count), and stop wearing t-shirts that you think elevate youabove other people in the fandom, because once you’re over 18 years old they just make you look stupid.


Eeeper said...

I think I arrived too late into the fandom, bud. The more I go on in the more I'm convinced that all the good stories were before my time.

The sad thing is that I'm as old as some of the people telling war stories from Otakon 1997. I have this horrible feeling that I'll get to the states this year and be terribly disappointed by what I find.

As for young whippersnappers giving you guff, well I don't have any good advice for you, Jim. It simply doesn't happen to me. So the only idea I can come up with is that you were THERE and most of anime's current demographic weren't. That's the deciding factor. For me anyways.


The Angry Otaku said...

Thanks for the comment.

As much as I sound like a pessimistic old grumpy otaku, I do think that there's never such a thing as "too late" in the fandom. There's always the future and as long as people out there want to make something happen, things will work out.

I do however, like to wave around my otaku-points when I can and trump little wee-bee's now and again.

It's just the lack of basic understanding of how anime is a business not a free product tree. As a business it needs support or production stops. I'm not saying buy everything, but one shouldn't make it look like they are part of the otaku movement when in fact they spend almost no real capital on it. That gives a dangerous false impression to possible investors and sets up some nasty implosion.

If you are coming to the US for Otakon, keep in mind that Baltimore in the summer is slightly worse than hell, and the food sucks ass. There is some fun to be had I think tho', so give it a shot.