Crossing Virtual Boundaries and Managing Mobs: Strategies for Content Culturalization Kate Edwards Principal Consultant & Founder, Englobe Inc. http://www.englobe.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Content: Information created for perpetuation and dissemination; in digital products, anything a user will see, hear or read.
Context: The circumstances or events that form a unique environment in space and time, within which information is created and managed.
Culture: The accumulated, managed content of a specific context. Think of “culture” as “content assets”.
Content carries culture. • Reflects the culture in which it’s created. • Evokes reaction from cultures to which it’s distributed.
We aim to maximize global revenue. We strive to appeal to local culture.
We can translate the language. We can make world-ready code. We can change the appearance.
We must keep current with new forms of distribution. We must manage local reactions in real-time.
We refine and improve to meet local expectations. But at what point do we begin to feel “local”?
في مسألة من منظور. .perspective of matter a it’s
Culturalization • Regional flavors: • Hokkaido: yubari melon and baked corn • Tokyo: Sweet potato and soybean.
Boundary of Geocultural Expectations Content Worlds (Very) Real Worldviews All participants import their culture into the experience and begin to contrast against expectations. The aggregation of collectively-created, virtual content spaces (products, MMOGs, social networks, etc.) The collective assumptions, beliefs and expectations of local individuals and/or groups.
External manipulation of a culture’s content assets is intensely defended. Culturalization often means knowing what to avoid in order to know what to improve.
Challenges to Culturalization • Long/Short Tail of History • Sacred vs. Secular • Inclusion vs. Exclusion • Intercultural Dissonance • Geopolitical Imaginations
Long (and Short) Tail of History Historical memory is persistent.
Sacred vs. Secular Cultures maintain expectations that may originate in religious beliefs.
Inclusion vs. Exclusion Perceived inequitable treatment of a specific culture, ethnicity and/or nationality.
Intercultural Dissonance General tension between cultures and nationalities on a wide variety of issues.
Game Content in Brazil • “Harmful for consumers’ health” • Counter-Strike: “Encourages subversion of public order.” • Everquest: “Pursuit of both “good” and “bad” quests causes psychological burdens.”
Geopolitical Imaginations Reinforcement of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Ninja Gaiden (2004) Country/Region Taiwan
Jammu and Kashmir Some governments require by law that maps conform to their local worldview. U.S./Global Locale India Locale
Culturalization in the Development Cycle Final Checks for All Identified Issues General Concept Back Story & Plot Character Design Environment Design Audio (Effects, Music, Voice) Content Type to Review At least 75% of potential issues are identified in during concept phase in these content types In-game Text (UI, Dialogue) Imagery: Symbols, Icons, Flags, Maps Marketing & Packaging Distribution Plans CONCEPT CORE PRODUCTION RELEASE PHASE Phase of Content Development
The Concept PhasePrimary Goal: Identify the Potential Risks & Opportunities Most Critical Actions: • Follow the Culturalization Principles (to be explained…) • Perform a ‘Geocultural Audit’: A geocultural content audit of the overall idea and its global viability. • Where will it work? Where might be problem areas? • Examine the overall plot, characters, motives, environments, etc. • Assign Responsibilityfor Culturalization Tasks
The Core Production PhasePrimary Goal: Manage Random Design • Most Critical Actions: • Create Bug Type: “Cultural” • Include Culturalization in Milestones • Triage for Severity (next slide) • Ask Questions: As content is produced, ask questions about specific choices. If something doesn’t seem quite right, raise the issue. • What is the meaning of that icon/symbol? • Why does that race look how they do? • Why does that house look like a temple?
The Core Production PhaseHow to Triage for Severity • Step 1 – Research to Gauge the Knee-Jerk: • Texts, Wikipedia, journals • External subject-matter expertise (academics , consultants) • Input from local subsidiaries (if an option) • Online Q&A tools (e.g., Yahoo Answersor Facebook Questions) • Step 2 - Separate Reasonable Risks from Overt Offenses: • Reasonable Risks: Content that might be sensitive. • Overt Offenses: Content that will always be a problem. • Step 3 – Revise or defend the content
The Release PhasePrimary Goals: Finalize& Distribute Most Critical Actions: • Rethink the Distribution Model: Trade-offs might be necessary, such as giving up a market or two in order to sell in many others. • Build your defense: If you choose to include known, sensitive content then have a solid reason for its presence.
Principles of Culturalization: • Avoid contextual independence • Observe contextual proximity • Perform surgical decisions • Anticipate local expectations
Contextual Independence: Content elements become more independent the less they require their original context for meaning. (an expansion of Edward Hall’s High & Low Context)
The Nazi-style swastika in a historical context, such as in Medal of Honor, is nearly acceptable but can still be a sensitive image. This Pokemon card was discontinued in 1999 after Anti-Defamation League pressure (even though it’s a manji, a left-facing Buddhist style).
Contextual Proximity: The closer a content element approaches the original context in person, place, time and/or form, the greater the potential for sensitivity.
Perform surgical decisions: Make the most minimal change to the least amount of content.