DIGC302 Critique – ClassicoCalcio

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www.classicocalcioblog.wordpress.com

 It is clear that Matt’s digital artifact is just as much personal interest as it is academic. Drawing from his heritage as well as his passion for football, the real kind, he has created ClassicoCalcio, a streamline blog filled with content from 80s, 90s and 2000s Italian football. Although I have studied with Matt for multiple years now it does not take long at all to realise that he is a die-hard football fan, whether that be through the Claudio Marchisio wallpaper on his phone or his regular Official Juve’ retweets among other things, this curatorial project accurately represents his interest in this area.

Aims

Matt’s aims for this digital project were made clear and stayed true from the moment he delivered his pitch in week 6. He wanted to build a digital home for nostalgic Italian football related content, through analysing legendary players, teams, kits, games and the fandom surrounding them. However he wanted to go further then just curating content and highlighting big moments of the memorable era, he wanted to really to convey the passion and love for the game that the fans during this time had, and still have and bring out those nostalgic emotions.

One other key notion Matt made sure to mention in his pitch was his desire to create this product for an English speaking audience. Having full blood Italian heritage and being able to understand the Italian language, Matt can get by reading via the Italian written blogs but understands how hard it would be for an English speaking fan to get to know the history of Serie A. This is where I believe he has struck gold and his digital artifact is most unique. There is a clear gap in the market for this brand of footballing history for an English speaking audience and there is huge potential to gain an audience with the rate of which football in Australia is continually growing.

Trajectory

Watching ClassicoCalcio take shape over the semester has been an interesting and enjoyable task. Unlike a handful of our classmates this was not a pre-existing artifact, or concept for that matter, and was not until weeks after the pitch that his idea fully developed and he understood how it would be presented. However the end product Matt presented should be something he is very proud of, he has produced a beautifully designed, user-friendly blog curating and creating content covering a variety of subtopics, that I will dive into eventually, with the potential to continue on very successfully after this semester. I fully intend to follow the development of the blog over the next year as Matt begins to make his way into the world of sports writing, I hope he keeps building this project because it will look great on any resume.

Concepts

As outlined earlier the overall concept of ClassicoCalcio is to be a place for an English speaking fan of not just Italian football but any league, to read about the history and stories coming out of the golden years of Serie A. However to achieve this he splits the blog up into four sections: “Classic Teams”, “Cult Heroes”, “Kit Collection” and “Stories from the Ultras”. I think this is a very professional decision resulting in a much more organised and easy to access collection of content, rather then having just one long feed of articles which would end up being very overwhelming for a first time viewer as more posts are added.

Methodology

There are several different methods Matt undertook to achieve what he had presented as the beta version of ClassicoCalcio. Firstly all the writing is based off his own independent research and interviews with other Italian football lovers, and the blog itself is hosted on WordPress using an existing template that he has altered slightly. Unfortunately for Matt as a class we could not help supply any content as seen in some other digital artifacts, this meaning the use of his seminar time was not as useful as others.

All the video and images were sourced from hours of searching through content, in which he admits he would “get lost” in the abundance of old footage on YouTube that he loves. Within the “Classic Teams” category he supplies a graphic highlighting the formation of the certain team, this was created using online software on the site footballuser.com and sourced images to match, this I thought was a very creative addition to the posts. Lastly, the logo used as the header throughout the blog was Matt’s original concept but created by his graphic design savvy friend, incorporating a very professional and suiting typeface and includes the same ball graphic used in the Serie A logo in the 90s.

 Possible Improvements and Moving Forward

Matt has created a strong product however in terms of the potential that ClassicoCalcio has long term, the version presented is still in Beta form.

There are a handful of very minor things that if possible to be changed would make for a more polished artifact all over.

Firstly, although I believe that the design of the blog is very clean and streamline, if he is to use this as leverage for possible job opportunities I think it is important to remove the WordPress headers and functions visible to the audience. Along the same lines, I think it would be received much more professionally if a custom URL such as classicocalcio.com is used instead of the .wordpress domain.

Additionally, if he were looking for more categories to break up the site I would love to see insights into the famous stadiums of the Italian football league. Being some of the largest and most prolific on the planet this would not just interest football lovers but fans of all sports. Also embedding a request page for fans to request specific content would be a very engaging tool to think about adding.

Moving forward into the long-term goals of the blog, the most vital element to this artifact being a success long term is building an audience. I have encouraged Matt to advertise his blog via his personal social networks, but also on pages and forums of related footballing sites. Matt also plays at a high level in the local Illawarra league so advertising ClassicoCalcio there whether it is through word of mouth or emails to individuals around the clubs would be a great place to begin building an audience.

All up though I am very impressed with the product and concept Matt has put forward. It has clear potential to grow into something far greater then a university assignment, which is a clear goal, excuse the pun, of this subject. You can really tell Matt has a deep passion for Italian football through how the artifact is presented and I am really excited to see where it goes in the future!

Week 8 – Academic Research into Anime Fandom

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As mentioned in my post from last week I am going to analyse the wide spread anime community, or ‘fandom’ as it is referred too, in more academic depth. Searching through Wollongong’s catalogues I found a handful of academic articles relating to the anime subculture, and in particular “fan subbing”.

In terms of its origins the Hye-Kyung Lee (2011) article claims that it began in the early 1990’s in the US, “as part of anime fandom, its key aim was to provide English-speaking fans with a wide variety of animes that were not available through authorized distribution”. The new fan subbed versions were shared by mail across the country to the many anime clubs that were forming.

The process of making a fansub has dramatically changed since the beginning of the 90’s as technologies have improved. As the Rusch (2008) article claims “fansubbing has its origins with VHS cassettes, which in the ‘90s were the easiest way to duplicate and transfer anime episodes. The fansubbers would translate the Japanese audio into English and then use dubbing equipment to add a text line to the bottom of the video with the English script”. However as the globe went digital the process became much easier with the use of computer editing software. This has also affected the effectiveness of distribution globally. What what once were physical copies that had to be posted from one to person to the next became widely available to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection via peer-to-peer sharing.

The view of the anime industry is very mixed. In the early days it was somewhat positive with official producers crediting fansubbers with promoting the product and gaining it a new audience. However with the emergence of online piracy the views have changed, “consequently, the anime industry’s view of fansubbing has changed in recent years. Facing the decline of DVD sales, the US anime companies have begun blaming fansubs for replacing licensed products” Lee (2011).

As you can see there is a very rich history of anime fandom, far to diverse to fit into one post. However the loyal, following the product has is clear although they may not get any physical reward for producing this fan made content they gain a sense of belonging and done for the love of it.

Week 7 – Further investigation into Anime viewing

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After spending the week tirelessly watching back-to-back episodes of anime subtitled and dubbed, one major realisation I made was that the quality of subtitles changed from episode to episode. This I noticed across all of the different series I looked into, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Digimon and Yu Gi Oh, many stating to be ‘FanDubs’ in the opening credits.

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A quick look into this showed the dense history and community behind the anime series’. This realisation worked as an ‘epiphany’, as the Ellis reading describes it, within my auto ethnographic research of anime consumption. I found the community built by anime lovers to be extremely interesting, especially the sections that produce their own subtitles along with a wide variety of other content.

I am going to attempt to investigate different Fansubbing groups and communities and find out why they produce content and be apart such communities for little to no reward in terms of money and compensation for my digital artefact. I am interested in multiple areas of the topic, that I will investigate with academic research, including its origins, global distribution, its development over time with updated technologies and what the anime industry thinks about it all.

I also want to see whether the reasons behind the massive online following behind anime has any correlations with other online communities, or whether its prominence is unique.

Week 6 – ‘Naruto’ Anime viewing

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So I have decided to base my individual artifact around Anime, in particular the way in which people consume Anime. As I discovered through my investigation into the Godzilla film, I want to further look at how effectively individuals connect to foreign texts whether that be through subtitles or dubbing.

To begin my auto ethnographic experience for this task I viewed the first episode (which may have ended in finishing the first season) of one of my favourite Anime series, Naruto. I was able to find versions where I could watch both the subbed content and then dubbed content immediately after so I found this very enjoyable and insightful, as I had never previously watched the series in its original form before.

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After watching a few episodes back to back it brought up some mixed emotions. Initially the first notable reaction to the content was the sense of nostalgia that I felt when re-watching these scenes that I loved so much as kid. This is a very positive element to the dubbed version as to my English trained ear the voices were instantly memorable, where as the subbed version the authentic character voices felt indefinable and like ‘white noise’ as one of my classmates described it.

One other factor I noted was that the English dubbed version seemed to of removed some of the blood from some scenes that the original subbed version had. This I imagine is so it can be targeted at a younger audience and earlier time-slots where the content may be deemed too graphic.

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Lastly, the major issue I noted between the two versions was the dialogue or lack thereof in some cases. I found that in the subtitled version there was a lot less dialogue in some scenes then in the dubbed version, and I felt almost as if I was watching a highlights package rather then full scenes. This is something I will look further into in the coming weeks as I believe there could be some interesting issues with composing subtitles for western audiences.

Sub vs. Dub

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In class this week we spent time reading and listening to a handful of our classmates first attempts at auto-ethnographic reflections, based on our experiences last week with Godzilla for the most part. We were challenged to highlight the ‘primary narrative’ that is being told in our posts and find ways to expand and further these discoveries. This gave me mixed feelings as it showed just how much more effort some of my classmates put into the formatting of their posts then I do, but definitely highlighted some new ways at approaching auto-ethnographic research.

So after looking back through my post from last week it is clear that the primary narrative being told was the level of engagement in the text after overcoming the challenge of reading subtitles while fully taking in what is happening in scenes. I still stand by this view and I completely understand this being seen as a massive throw off for consumers who try watch Asian film but give up due not being able to connect with the content as well as English spoken media.

This idea of the language barrier being a problem when consuming Asian media reminded me of an issue that Chris brought up in the early weeks of class when we were brainstorming, the ‘Sub vs. Dub’ debate. Although this is argued largely in reference to Anime rather then live action films I still think it has some crossover where further research into it would be beneficial.

A quick Google search to get things rolling showed that this was a much more heard of debate then I had expecting, with content crossing multiple platforms including Reddit, YouTube, blogs and other forums.

From a personal point of view my alliance on this issue leans toward dubbed content, this mainly due to the fact that I am not a massive consumer and have never gone out of my way to extensively watch subbed content. However from what I have gathered from various forums is that the majority of hardcore fans prefer the subbed versions for a multitude of reasons to dense to cram into the bottom of this blog post.

The answer to “which is better?” though I believe ultimately comes down to the individual. Personal preference will rely on the level of engagement they can reach where understanding the dialogue is key, tying in with the points I made before with my viewing of Godzilla. It is an interesting debate to say the least and another good idea to take in when planning what to do with my final digital artefact.

First attempt at auto-ethnography: “Godzilla”

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To begin this post to make up for missing the introductory blog last week I thought I would give a brief account of my history in consuming Asian media. Unlike a handful of my classmates that have mentioned in their opening blogs I do not have an Asian cultural background and was born and raised in Australia, so the majority of my conscious experiences with Asian media comes from my childhood and my love for T.V series like Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Yu Gi Oh and BeyBlades and all the merch’ and collectors items that came with them. As an adult I have also looked into multiple Japanese animated films like Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Castle in the Sky’, which I was very engaged with highly due to the beautiful scenic and almost psychedelic animation, so this could definitely be an area I could explore more for my digital artefact.

Now for the discussion on this week’s topic – my reaction to the original 1954 Japanese film ‘Godzilla’. Not being a regular foreign film consumer I found it took me a good quarter way into the film to get completely used to the rhythm of reading sub-titles and taking in what was being shot on screen to full effect. However once wrapped my head around that skill I began to engage more and enjoy the film showing that emotion and motives are still very clear even through the eyes of those from differing cultures and generations.

With ‘Godzilla’ being such a massive pop culture reference generations later it was hard not to find some of the more serious scenes humorous, where I can imagine the audiences in 1954 would have a much different reaction. However there were certain moments where the film was extremely moving and powerful, one in particular where a mother and her young children were certain of their deaths amidst an attack from Godzilla, so much so that the mother terrified herself tries to comfort her children by yelling (in Japanese) “We’re going to be where Daddy is soon”. I found this scene particularly hard hitting with potentially some underlying messages toward the aftermath of Japan post H-Bomb.

This film was a great way to start off the semester and I look forward to thinking more about my encounters with Asian media in class.

Week 10 – The Australian Gaming Industry

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When you think of the Australian gaming industry it is hard to say that we are the pioneers and world leaders in the field. But personally, before further investigation into this topic, I did not understand why we weren’t as prominent in this industry compared to our European and American counterparts.

The McCrea (2013) reading claims that this can be put down to multiple differing reasons, some of which were out of our control. Referring to Australia’s once weak dollar in comparison to the US and UK, McCrea described one cause stating, “different factors are corralled to explain the collapse of the industry in this period, each interconnected and forming an inexorable vicious cycle. The strengthening Australian dollar, especially as the global financial crisis devastated other Western economies, made Australia a less attractive production partner” (2013).

This among the list of other negative factors to the industry would have to be the most damaging, when a large portion of the Australian industry adopted the ‘work-for-hire’ model – where “the larger Australian studios were working with American and European publishers on games under license”(2013). It was always going to be working well while the Australian dollar was weak but as soon as it began to grow the tables would be turned – and they were.

Since this turn the majority of gaming companies holding this work-for-hire structure were “bought, shrunk, merged, or closed—often all four in that order” (2013) and so we see Australia become a much smaller player in the global industry.

However, if we can learn anything from the huge successes Australian developers working on mobile games for smart phone and tablet devices, such as Halfbrick Studio’s Fruit Ninja released in 2010, it is that the gaming industry in this country is far from dead. These small independent companies are standing tall in the crowded market, and must continue to grow if Australia is to be competitive on a global scale.


Reference:

McCrea, C 2013, “Australian Video Games: The Collapse and Reconstruction of an Industry”, Gaming Globally, pp. 203-207

BCM310 Project Plan

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Whilst deciding which topic I will be focusing on for my research project I opted to look at the issues in the weeks ahead to find one suitable to my major, being Digital Media. I decided to focus on week 9’s “Who Belongs Where? Anti-Racism Outside Dominant Media Paradigms” and research ways in which to raise awareness and strategies for counter racism campaigns particularly focusing Aboriginal Australians via in the online realm.

Racism toward Aboriginal Australians is still prevalent throughout society and is an important issue in the media. A journal article written by David Mellor’s (2004) gives some statistics on the disadvantages that Aborigines experience stating, “Life expectancy of Indigenous people is between 19 and 20 years lower than for other Australians… The death rate among Indigenous people is higher than that recorded for the general population for almost all causes of death and all age groups. In the 35- to 54-year-old age group, the death rate is between 5 and 6 times that expected.”

I believe it is important to raise awareness of statistics such as these and other disadvantages in the Aboriginal community as they are the most important part of our culture and to evoke change now and for generations to come. In terms of what I can bring to this issue from my major I intend to research ways in which anti-racism campaigns can be used most effectively online via social networking sites by analysing previous campaigns and new rising problems within the issue.

One example of a campaign currently running is Beyond Blue’s “Stop, Think, Respect” anti-discrimination campaign. The organisations website (2015) states, “Several studies have demonstrated a link between experiences of racism and poorer mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including a greater risk of developing depression and anxiety, substance use and attempted suicide. National survey data shows that at least one quarter (27 per cent) of Indigenous Australians regularly experience racial discrimination, while detailed local-area research has found that up to four out of five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people regularly experience discrimination.”

Potential stakeholders in this research could be the Australian Government or the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare for Indigenous Australians. These two examples could very well benefit from the information gathered from successful research and in turn benefiting the Aboriginal community as well. I intend on presenting my research via an audio podcast, I think this is a great opportunity to further enhance my skill set in the digital media realm and something else to take away from this subject.


Sources

Mellor, D 2004, ‘Responses to Racism: A Taxonomy of Coping Styles Used by Aboriginal Australians’, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 56-71

The Invisible Discriminator, 2015, Beyond Blue Ltd, viewed Monday 13 April 2015, http://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/for-me/stop-think-respect-home/the-invisible-discriminator

Week 9 – Let’s Play Videos

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As we notice more and more examples of convergent media, the popularity of being a ‘produser’ continues to grow. One instance that fits this mold is the up rise of the ‘Lets Play’ videos.

A quick Google search will show Urban Dictionary defining the phenomenon as “one or more people, usually from message boards, that record themselves playing video games through screenshots or captured video (Mostly the latter). This can be any game, from Doom to Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Usually Let’s Play videos consist of jokes (Good, bad, and/or corny), frustration, and bewilderment by the ones playing”. And although this description implies that there is commentary over the video, there are many instances where this is not the case.

Personally, I have never been a massive consumer of Let’s Play videos nor have I ever made one and participated in gaming community websites like Twitch. However the one memory I have of these videos was my reliance on them while playing my various Pokémon games. After spending hours on end trying to get through Cerulean Cave or Purity Forest I would give up (reluctantly) and seek a walk through guide online. This changes the gaming experience quite a bit, showing how different individuals play a specific game and highlighting things you may never have found without.

This simple example shows just how useful and valuable Let’s Play videos can be and how the emergence of convergent media has opened up opportunities for produsage. This type of active usage by users has also created strong online communities, found on video streaming sites like YouTube but more genre-specific for video games – Twitch.