23 October 2014

My Research Idea Revealed! Ethnography of MegaTen Fans

NOTE: as of November 12, I have closed my survey. Thanks to the 700+ participants who helped me with this project! :)

In my last post I mentioned that I am currently taking a research class, where I learn about methods in conducting research and where I start a project on my own. Because October was such a busy, nerve-wrecking month, I admittedly have fallen behind in gathering data. So to catch up, I'll just say it.

I'm doing online ethnographic research on the Megami Tensei fanbase. In plain man's speak, I'm studying the people who play games in the MegaTen franchise. What games do they generally enjoy playing? What do they enjoy about MegaTen? How did they get introduced to the franchise? Why is MegaTen's popularity growing outside of Japan? What games helped to spread MegaTen love and why?

If you say Persona 4 Dancing All Night as an answer to every single question, I'm gonna smack you.

... As a proud Vita owner, I refuse to buy this... THING.

But seriously though, as I am a MegaTen fan myself, I want to know more about the kinds of people who play and enjoy the games in this huge franchise. I want to know what opinions and views the fans have, regardless of where they live, of their background, and of their education and status. I want to better understand why a niche Japanese franchise has lasted for over 20 years and is continuing on, even during the age where some JRPG series like Final Fantasy are floundering pathetically.

I have heard so many things on various sites from so many people that it's hard to keep track of a general consensus on what the fans like. Since some fans have been gaming far longer than I, whatever I may say on my own would be laughable. Thanks why I want to talk to other fans, who all have their own experiences, personalities, and interests that may differentiate them from others. I might never know what the face of the fans may be like if I don't ask around and talk to fans.

I hate this pic. I hate this pic. I hate this pic. I hate this pic.
The MegaTen fanbase is still pretty niche, small, and all-over the place, even with the Persona hype train hijacking the rails. Persona 3 and Persona 4 are not the sole reasons for of MegaTen's success. That's too simple. There are a ton of games with varying success that are too often ignored in the grand war between Persona and everything else. I dunno how many people will hear about my research or will give a crap. I hope I can learn more about MegaTen beyond sensationalist gossip on Kotaku or single-minded waifu wars on GameFAQs or fanboy rage with no content on forums and social networks. What fans tell me doesn't need to be golden, special, and universe-shattering. It doesn't need to be so glorious that it will bring an end to the Law vs Chaos or SMT vs Persona debates and bring world peace to all. My research won't be perfect, but I want to better understand the MegaTen community beyond broad assumptions and feverous favoritism.

I'm not lying when I say that this is one of the most welcoming, laid-back fanbases I have ever been apart of. Everyone's got bad eggs that smell more obviously than others. Some communities are utterly unappeasable, not matter what someone does. Sonic is a definitive example. Even on my blog, regardless of my being positive, negative, or neutral, I have received comments from upset readers on my Sonic-related posts. Not everyone was happy when I talk about MegaTen, but almost no one devolved into a troll and spewed unintelligible or ignorant nonsense with absolutely no redeeming value.

Or maybe I was an oddball who happened to find a few nice people in the community. I will never know unless I look deeper and do some damn research.

To be honest, though, I know I won't be able to take on every single MegaTen-related topic under the sun. I won't be able to get a lot of information about the entire history of Atlus and each of their game's developments and reception. I won't be able to go deep into the Law verses Chaos debate and over-analyze it to death. The SMT versus Persona craze is undergoing a shift thanks to the excessive Persona 3 and Persona 4 milking. Impressions on games are still in flux with Shin Megami Tensei IV's horrid European endless stream of delays release, Devil Survivor 2 Break Record's development troubles, and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax's colossal clusterfuck of a plot even for a fighting game.

Simply put, there is far too much I won't be able to realistically tackle in a few months for one class. I may have more research opportunities in the next few semesters, so I'm willing to keep this project alive.

My objective at this point is to understand why MegaTen is played, discussed, and loved. The reasons keep changing as new games are released and older ones age. One series once considered a beloved masterpiece may end up being despised later on. The Persona frenzy might die down if another series has its time in the sun. At this point, I know the results I'll get now may change later. Still, I will watch as this franchise grows and runs into some rough spots. I'm a part of this fanbase too, and I ain't going anywhere.

Yet. If such a thing existed, I might destroy all copies of Persona 3 as an apology for feeding the cash cow.

I'm still in the data collecting phase, such as visiting forums, reading articles, and listening to podcasts. I have also made a survey for anyone interested in participating. If you're a MegaTen fan who doesn't help me with this research, I'll make sure a demon possesses you while you sleep. ^_^

...And no one ate dinner that night.

Ah, priceless. XD

Someone else is free to attempt academic research on the SMT vs Persona, hardcore vs casual warfare. I've got enough on my plate for the time being.

PS - I'm shocked how very few to nonexistent survey responses have mentioned anything dealing with waifus and husbandos. Someone might be disappointed about that.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...