I was honored to win a Hexagram Internationalization Grant for the period of February to May 2020. My original idea for the grant was to create a small game demo in RPG Maker MV and use it as the basis for a game-making and historical narrative workshop at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. Unfortunately, the entire project was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, Hexagram allowed me to keep the funds which I used to cover non-refundable travel expenses.
Despite this, Hexagram invited me to speak about my grant during their 20th Anniversary Gala. Although I was unable to travel to Montreal to attend the gala, they were very accommodating and allowed me to submit a video in lieu of an in-person talk. Rather than simply reiterate how the project was cancelled, I took the opportunity to talk about the RPG Maker MV versions of Nagasaki Kitty. Though these projects are not directly connected to the grant, I thought that I should provide some kind of content other than saying, “Thank you for covering my non-refundable travel expenses after I had to cancel my project.”
Here is the video:
I would love to pursue my original proposed project (i.e., an international game-making workshop focused on historical narratives) again at a later date but I am also happy with the way that everything worked out. If the workshop had not been cancelled I would have been working on that rather than making a full version of a game (that would later spawn other, bilingual versions).
Teaching, running workshops, and giving guest lectures have become much more complicated given the ongoing pandemic but I was very happy to be invited to speak to the students of Dr. Mimi Okabe’s Japanese translation class at the University of Alberta.
Typically I like to give a more hands-on experience to the students but I think that I was able to put together a compelling and (somewhat) interactive experience for the students. For the lecture portion, I introduced my research and how it connects to game making before shifting to the workshop element where I screen-shared via Zoom and gave a brief tour of RPG Maker MV.
Given that this was a translation class, my primary focus was to show the students how dialogue and text are inserted into a game and the particular issues that they would need to be mindful of when translating a video game. For example, video game translators need to be particularly mindful of their development tools when they engage in translation. In the case of RPG Maker MV, there are strict character limitations for text. If the translator ignores these, then the software will not be able to display the text correctly. This means that translators must make sure that they accurately translate the text while also limiting themselves to the strict character limit imposed by the design software.
My combination guest lecture and workshop concluded with a question/answer period. Dr. Okabe asked her students to prepare questions for me beforehand so that I could incorporate answers into my talk as best as possible. This was a wonderful idea that helped me to structure my talk and led to more in-depth questions from the students during the question/answer time. It is a strategy that I will implement in the future (both as a guest speaker or when I invite guest speakers myself).
Overall, I had a great time talking about video game tools and the intricacies of translation. I am planning some projects around these ideas for the near future. For now, I would like to thank Dr. Okabe for the invitation and the students of her class for their insightful questions.
I was very excited to give my first game making workshop at the University of Waterloo’s Critical Media Lab.
I gave a talk as the first part of the workshop that was designed to give the students a brief background on me, my work and its theoretical underpinnings. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of insightful questions that I received during this part of the workshop. If I had let the students keep asking questions it seems like they would have taken up the entire workshop without getting to the critical making part!
After all the questions we did a group play-through of two of my games, Nagumo’s Ruin: The Battle of Midway and Nagasaki Kitty with audience members assigned as voice actors. I was also able to show off some of my work within RPG Maker MV. From here, I had the students download Twine onto their devices and provided an introduction to the tool that allowed them to start making their own games.
Overall, I had an excellent time giving my first workshop. In retrospect, I probably would have cut out the talk at the beginning and jumped right into introducing the tools. But I feel like I learned a lot about the time management of a workshop and what to expect from the students. I was very happy to hear that at least one or two of the students had started making something that they wanted to move forward with in the limited amount of time that they had to experiment with the tool. I hope they keep making games.
I would like to thank the students of the Critical Media Lab for being enthusiastic and making my first workshop such a great experience and Dr. Marcel O’Gorman for taking the time to drop in. Finally, a special shout-out to Dr. Lai-Tze Fan for the invitation, organization and support of the workshop. I appreciate you all!