Being Played: Games Culture and Asian American Dis/identifications – Dean Chan

Asian American gamers are, paradoxically, both hypervisible and out of sight. The presence of American gamers of Asian descent especially in game arcades, tournaments, and Internet cafes is often noted in online gaming forums. This dominant stereotypical perception of Asian American ubiquity and prowess is often circulated at the expense of diasporic subjectivity and agency. These gamers are generally spoken for, elided, and seen through by others. Writing on the ‘Asian Stereotype’ in his blog at the 1-Up games community portal, Jason Ng (2005) sums up this predicament when he identifies the ways in which he is inscribed by his friends as a specifically racialised gamer. It would appear that the figure of the Asian American gamer by and large remains ossified in the liminal representational space between the historically over-determined ‘model minority’ and ‘yellow peril’. After playing and enjoying a Japanese-designed game which Ng owns, a friend enthusiastically declared, “Jason, I am so glad you’re Asian because I would never thought of getting or playing this game. Only Asians can come up with this stuff!” There is, however, a discernible change of tune and logic when he happens to start winning in any given game. In such circumstances, he is jokingly told: ‘“God, Jason! Stop being Asian.” These friendly injunctions emblematise longstanding preconceptions of Asian creativity, dexterity, and exceptionalism in gaming while succinctly outlining the cross-cultural politics of damning with faint praise.

Asian American gamers are also out of sight in another sense. They represent a subject that is, to date, rarely discussed within game studies. This article goes some way towards redressing this gap by initiating a consideration of Asian American gaming cultures and play practices. The discussion also has broader applications. This preliminary analysis addresses both the potentialities and problems inherent in any attempt at identifying and discussing the ethno-cultural constituencies of gamers and their play practices. A central issue here is the twinned politics of self-naming and socio-cultural categorisation. There is, of course, no such thing as a ‘typical’ Asian American gamer. It is similarly impossible to homogenise the diversity of American gamers of Asian descent into a single, cohesive community of gamers with uniform preferences and play practices. At the same time, however, as Ng’s commentary perspicuously illustrates, discrete and discernible sets of cultural meanings are ascribed and become attached to this particular grouping of gamers.

Critical attentiveness to the interrelationship between cultural context and the vernacular practice of gaming complicates any attempt at narrowly defining gamers in overarching national terms. Indeed, Asian American specificities highlight the importance of continuously interrogating such national fictions. Who do hegemonic American national imaginaries include and exclude? Why are certain national subjects rendered hypervisible and out of sight? Writings by and on Asian American gamers serve in this article as situated contexts and discursive sites for examining contemporary idioms and practices of racial identity formation in the United States. This hermeneutical approach is underpinned by the premise that gamers do not play in a ludological vacuum; they are first and foremost social beings. By offering such a meditation on the localised constituencies of play, this article contributes to a broader conversation within games studies about the need to cultivate differential frameworks for analysing communities, practices, and types of gamers, and their complex relationship to the wider socio-cultural and spatio-temporal milieu.[1]

I focus on the politics and practices of racialised dis/identifications in my tentative mapping of Asian American gaming cultures. These forms of race-based identification (or affiliation) and ‘disidentification’ (or repudiation) are examined with reference to a wide range of case studies. My analyses of an AsianWeek feature article on Dennis Fong the renowned former professional gamer, the controversy surrounding Shadow Warrior (3D Realms 1997), and debates about Asian stereotypes on Jason Ng’s blog illuminate the differing contexts and forms of these racialised representational politics. At the same time, the affective dimensions of Asian American gaming also need to be considered, particularly when actual play practices and preferences are factored into the equation. The interrelationships between gameplay, affect, and racial identity are examined in relation to Chi Kong Lui’s review of Saiyuki: Journey West (Koei 2001) and Michael Nguyen’s commentary on playing Vietnam War videogames. The cultural politics of being (an) Asian (gamer) in America are thereby simultaneously examined and emblematised in this article as an ongoing dialectic of positioning and being positioned, naming and being named, playing and being played.

Negotiating Dennis Fong

Dennis Fong (a.k.a. ‘Thresh’) is arguably the highest profile Asian American gamer. He is a former world champion in Doom (id Software 1993) and Doom II (id Software 1994) and Quake (id Software 1996) and Quake II (id Software 1997); plus he has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, prizes, and endorsement deals with Microsoft and Diamond Multimedia as a professional gamer over the five-year period between 1995 and 1999. Most famously, he won a Ferrari 328GTS at a Quake tournament held at the 1997 E3 Expo. During this period, he also wrote a monthly column in PC Gamer magazine and authored several game strategy guides. Since retiring from professional gaming in 2000, he has been voted the ‘Top North American E-Sports Figure of All Time’ by the E-Sports Entertainment Association. At the time of his retirement, Fong and his brother Lyle had already founded GX Media, a parent company that owned several key online gaming portals, game sites, and ancillary companies including Gamers.com (which was set up by the brothers in 1996), FiringSquad.com, and Lithium Technologies. GX Media steadily grew into a profitable company with over seventy-five employees by 2000. Gamers.com was eventually sold in 2001 while the other subsidiaries become separate incorporated entities such as Lithium Technologies, now headed up by Lyle Fong. In 2002, Dennis Fong co-founded Xfire, an instant messaging and social networking website for gamers. In April 2006, Viacom acquired the company for US$102 million.

AsianWeek published a main feature article in 2002 on ‘The Gaming Revolution’ in which Fong is introduced as: “A 24-year-old, Chinese American, multi million-dollar-start-up-owning CEO, driving around his new Ferrari in the posh San Francisco suburb of Marin, Calif” (King 2002). This new face of the gamer is a paragon of upward socio-economic mobility. Such an impression is reinforced by the article’s accompanying image of Fong. It is, if anything, a heroic portrait. The main photograph is taken from a low viewpoint so that we look up at Fong as he fixes his gaze away from the camera towards the middle distance. The overall depiction of Dennis Fong ripples along the historical grain of repressive representations of the Asian American community which, particularly in the 1960s and 70s, was simultaneously celebrated and demonised as the ‘model minority’. However, the context for this particular contemporary representation of Fong’s undeniable success deserves additional consideration. Founded in 1979 and based in San Francisco, AsianWeek is the only English-language, pan-ethnic print and online newsweekly focused on Asian/Pacific Islander American issues. In the article on Fong, the publication’s rhetorical practices of community pride and self-affirmation rub against the dense weight of model minority ideology to produce an example of the emergent vernacular of “new ethnic exceptionalism promoted by Asian transnational elites” (Ong & Nonini 1997, 329).

The model minority image of Asian Americans as a successful case of ethnic assimilation (that would, in particular, be held up to African Americans and Latinos) has since the 1970s coexisted with and reinforced a representation of the Asian American as the gook. As Robert G. Lee (1999, 11) points out: “The rapid growth of the Asian American population [in the 1970s] and its apparent success render the model minority, like the now-mythic Viet Cong, everywhere invisible and powerful”. Lee (1999, 11) traces how the model minority figure within the United States imaginary continued to evolve in the 1980s and 90s to resemble a ‘cyborg’ who is “perfectly efficient but inauthentically human, the perfect gook”. Hence, the contemporary enunciation of ethnic exceptionalism is an act of refutation and self-affirmation born out of specific histories of racialisation and minoritarian self-identification. Following Stuart Hall’s (1993, 395) influential characterisation of identity politics, this strategic enunciation can be in part understood as a ‘positioning’ and not an ‘essence’. At the same time, however, this mode of identification cannot completely escape its racialised ontology. The rhetoric of ethnic exceptionalism as a mode of self-identification and as a measure of self-worth ineluctably affirms and oppresses in the same breath.

Paradoxically, then, despite the fact that “Asian American discourse articulates an identity in reaction to the dominant culture’s stereotype, even if to refute it, the discourse may remain bound to and overly determined by the logic of the dominant culture” (Lowe, 1996: 71). The narrator in Maxine Hong Kingston’s novel The Woman Warrior best encapsulates this dilemma of self-representation and the impossible purist quest for authenticity when she pointedly asks:

Chinese-Americans, when you try to understand what things in you are Chinese, how do you separate what is peculiar to childhood, to poverty, insanities, one family, your mother who marked your growing with stories, from what is Chinese? What is Chinese tradition and what is the movies? (Kingston 1989, 5-6).

The role of the social construction—and, more to the point, the complicated entanglement—of images, narratives, places, temporalities, and texts in determining the lived experience of ethnic and racial identity is highlighted in this famous quotation. It follows that what is at issue here in this article is the disentangling and interrogation of specific representations of the Asian body politic in the American digital gaming context that effectively interpellate Asian American gamers as such, hailing them into agentive action.

Asian American Dis/identifications

One game in particular has elicited a strong critical response from Asian Americans that has spanned the past decade since the game’s release in 1997. Developed by 3D Realms in the United States, Shadow Warrior has been lambasted for its cross-cultural representational politics. Elliott Chin columnist for Computer Gaming World magazine reviewed the game in 1997 and called it “a perfect example of a game that is patently offensive in its racial humour and, even worse, shows great ignorance about its very own subject matter: East Asia and ninjas” (Chin 1997, 221). He criticises the use of cultural stereotypes in the game, particularly the depiction of the main playable character Lo Wang as a Chinese ninja with a thickly accented voice (done by a white actor affecting a stereotyped accent) who eats fortune cookies as health pick-ups and shoots zombies that are wearing coolie hats. Observing this hyperbolic melange of Asian stereotypes, Chin wearily concludes, “It’s bad enough to use blatant stereotypes in a game’s design, but 3D Realms can’t even get their own stereotypes right” (221).

After reading Chin’s review, Scott Miller and George Brousard (1997), who were at the time President of Apogee Software (the publisher) and President of 3D Realms (the developer) respectively, wrote an open letter addressed to him, which was also published on the Apogee website. Both men made their unified position crystal clear: “Anyone we’ve offended has probably taken this game way too seriously. If this game offends you or anyone, go play another game. We won’t mind” (Miller and Brousard 1997). Compelled by the unapologetic and flippant justification of the game by the Caucasian production team, the most vociferous objections to Shadow Warrior have subsequently emanated from Asian American scholars. For Jeffery Ow (2000, 54), such limited and stereotyped characterisations replicate problematic “master narratives based on racism and colonialism”. For Anthony Shiu (2006, 115), Shadow Warrior constitutes a game-text “where the stakes very much reside in who decides what a racialized body can mean, what it can signify, and why it is still of value to us”. Such criticisms represent important acts of critique, contestation, and political agency. At the same time, however, are these Asian American critiques of the in-game representations possibly complicit in reinforcing and perpetuating the staid racial stereotypes under interrogation?

This conundrum lies at the heart of any serious consideration of the potential for mobilising individual and collective agency and critique within Asian American gaming. On this point and at this juncture, it may be useful to dwell on the influential Asian American cultural theorist Rey Chow’s (2001) argument about the representational and self-representational quandaries posed by the machinations of ‘coercive mimeticism’. From her perspective, coercive mimeticism infers:

a process (identitarian, existential, cultural, or textual) in which those who are marginal to mainstream Western culture are expected… to resemble and replicate the very banal preoccupations that have been appended to them, a process in which they are expected to objectify themselves in accordance with the already seen and thus to authenticate the familiar imagings of them as ethnics (107).

Western society whereby the person is expected to come to resemble what is recognisably ethnic. In this regard, Asian American critiques of Shadow Warrior, which are often articulated from an expressly personalised and racialised position, are indeed complicit with the object of their interrogation and intimately bound up in the vicious cycle of coercive mimeticism. The im/possibility of ever breaking out of this vicious cycle in turn becomes the core consideration. For Chow, possessive investments in the performativity of ethnicity—be it as a mode of self-identification or an act of parodic critique and subversion—are futile and ultimately remain complicit in confining the ethnic to a delimited and prescribed role: “The fashionable talk these days of performing ethnicity… is in part the mimetic enactment of the automatized stereotypes that are dangled out there in public, hailing the ethnic” (110). For this reason, she is highly critical of the legitimacy of self-referentiality as “a resistive, liberatory, and thus corrective form of discourse (aimed at setting us free from the fetters of conventional representation)” (113). Chow goes so far as to contend that self-referentiality might even be a form of false consciousness:

The trap that many fall into when they turn to self-referential genres as a way out of metanarratives, out of the crime of speaking for others, is that of the age-old realist fallacy, which allows them to attribute to self-referentiality the capacity for an unproblematic representation of reality, in this case, the reality of the self (113).

Therein lies a manifest problem. Chow’s theory itself becomes a totalising narrative that potentially freezes ethnicised subjects into abject inaction: They are damned if they don’t and they are especially damned if they do. The historical and locative underpinnings as well as the affective dimensions of different forms of self-referentiality deserve to be more carefully appraised. For example, her argument disavows the strategic utility of reflexive positionings as part of a vital process of self-actualisation in projects of decolonisation and self-determination. By collapsing and subsuming a variety of social experiences under the broad rubric of coercive mimeticism, Chow proffers a planar sampling that largely dehistoricises and decontextualises the subjects of her inquiry. Within this framework, Asian American identity becomes a stranded identification.

David Eng presents a useful alternate perspective that allows for the agentive expression of identities and identifications without glossing over attendant issues arising from the yoking of social identities to political intentions, which is the central problematic importantly brought to the fore in Chow’s analysis. As he explains:

In Asian American political struggles it is thus crucial that we do not conflate our conflicted identifications with our desired identities. To understand this distinction—to understand that identification is the mechanism through which dominant histories and memories often become internalized as our own—is to understand that we are all borrowers and thus not pure. It is to underscore that our social identities as well as our political intentions are not irreproachable, that political agency while a necessary goal must be continually interrogated for its slippages, thought of more as a variable process than a permanent position (Eng 2001, 26).

One subsequent way to articulate these slippages and variable processes is to speak of Asian American identity as a reflexive mode of coterminous identification and disidentification. It is worthwhile returning to Jason Ng’s blog on the ‘Asian Stereotype’ to elucidate this mode of politicised agency. As previously discussed, Ng is palpably aware of stereotypical preconceptions about the Asian gamer. It may be said that he also recognises the coercive pressures on him to mimetically perform to a cookie-cutter racialised gamer identity. His sardonic commentary on how he has decided to respond to these conflicting demands from his friends encapsulates the discursive vacillations between actively identifying and proactively dis-identifying as such:

It’s hard to prove to my friends that I’m not as good as they think I am but at the same time, I don’t see why I have to. I know a bunch of better gamers who can easily declare victory over me and coincidence or not, they are Asian as well. Perhaps it’s a conspiracy or perhaps [it’s] the strict diet of white rice, sea food, and MSG that sharpens out thumbs or perhaps it’s something else. All I know is that my friends are a bunch of silly cats and I guess I can say that I, too, am glad that I’m Asian. The rain of racial slurs and insults will continue among us while more of my nongaming friends continue to admire the genius that is known as WarioWare Twisted [a wacky Japanese-designed game which supposedly only Asians can come up with].

The ensuing banter in the comments section of Ng’s blog entry is even more instructive on the polemical uses of rhetorical self-referentiality. One running gag among the respondents consisted of measuring themselves to dominant stereotypes. bitterazngurl starts with: “i’m good at math. AND played the violin (and its dirty cousin, the viola). i guess i just set our people back a thousand years”.[2] methodmadness simply states, “For the record, decent at math, don’t play any musical instruments, do have a black belt in tae kwon do. I’m 2/3 of a stereotype. :)”. clarkspark instead declares, “I love martial arts and acrobatics. I like math too HAHAH, but I do suck at RTS’s [real-time strategy] and DDR [Dance Dance Revolution] whew”.[3] In a post titled “GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY… AND THEN GET ME SOUVENIRS”, niko-sama writes: “You have to admit there is pretty strong evidence for stereotypes, that’s why they exist. However, I suck at math and play no instrument. But boy do I looove rice and eating dog!” Recognising the sender of the message, BurikiONE remarks: “How typical of you Niko. LOL! Don’t forget about the chocolate meat. Mmmmmmmm”. Elsewhere, Joe Keiser contributes: “I will also put my heritage down for the record; I am half-Chinese, half-Caucasian. Whether or not this has effected my (rather good) math grades in the past is highly speculative”. Aerin brings an important gendered dimension to the discussions: “Thanks for airing the Asian stereotype grievances, I am not good at math (taking that test tomorrow and I’m completely terrified) and at most platformers, but I do fit the ‘Chick gamer’ stereotype—I like RPGs [role-playing games] and puzzles a LOT. Got a problem with that?! Heh”. At one point, Ng chimes in with his observation that “most of the replies here are from a(n) (silly) Asian. OHMYGODZ, WE DO STICK TOGETHER”.

Ng’s blog entry obviously struck a chord with his Asian American gamer peers. They have clearly used this specific occasion in early November 2005 to rally, by choice, around an issue that they are all obviously affected by or, at the very least, are aware of. What is especially striking to me is their dextrous play with the idea of the stereotype. Acknowledging partial and provisional social half-truths for what they are, they mobilise a form of jocular in-group play that emphasises the contingent malleability of racialised identification as well as how such identification intersects with and is shaped by other aspects of social life. They clearly recognise the stereotype for what it is—and what it is patently not. Such collectivist expression by this small group of Asian American gamers engagingly demonstrates the possibilities (however contingent and situational) for speaking up and laughing out loud against the strictures of coercive mimeticism.

Affective Dimensions of Asian American Gameplay

The polemical and politicised uses of diasporic Asian self-referentiality come into focus in the following two articles under discussion. Written by Chi Kong Lui (2002) and Michael Nguyen (2004), these are not merely racial identity confessionals. Instead, both articles draw attention to how biographical referentiality can be situationally invoked to identify persistent experiential gaps and contradictions within the hegemonic national imaginary.

GameCritics.com is an independent games webzine that prides itself on presenting a diverse range of perspectives and opinions from writers of different backgrounds, often publishing game reviews from multiple viewpoints provided by two or more critics for each game. As its joint founding editor, Chi Kong Lui has himself contributed numerous reviews. One game prompted him to go into considerable biographical detail, as evident in the opening paragraphs of his review of Saiyuki: Journey West (Koei 2001):

For bi-cultural children growing-up in the United States, it’s not easy to be proud of their ethnicity. The popular media and education system has a funny way of influencing impressionable young people into believing a distorted and Eurocentric brand of patriotism. This often leaves children of minority backgrounds often feeling ashamed and wanting to renounce their natural heritage in favor of being just like everyone else on TV, a white-bred American. That’s how it was for me growing up in the town of Jackson Heights, New York. When I was 10-years old, I would have gladly taken a Big Mac over a Steam Pork Bun; I thought President Ronald Reagan would kick Chairman Deng Xiaoping’s ass in a heartbeat; and I idolized Nolan Ryan rather than no one actually (I didn’t even know of a single Chinese athlete at that time).

In spite of the nationalistic brainwashing I had endured for years, I still managed to fall in love with story and characters of the distinctly Chinese mythical novel ‘Journey To The West’ to which I was exposed to in bits and pieces thanks to my non-English speaking parents. The epic tale of grotesque demons, immortal Gods, magical mysticism, and perilous adventure proved to be too alluring and unmatched in imagination by anything I had seen from Western sources (A giant beanstalk and a goose who laid golden eggs? Give me a break.) Most of all, I was enamored with the brave and mischievous antics of the revered Son Goku protagonist whose ideals were drastically different and far more complex than those of the Saturday morning super-heroes I had grown up watching.

Since those pubescent years and now as a rabid fan of videogames, I always found it surprising there was never a visible videogame directly based on the ‘Journey To The West’ novel…Thankfully, Koei, a company internationally renown for taking pivotal Asian histories and turning them into richly complex war simulations and action-fighting games, shared a similar foresight and decided to produce and release Saiyuki: Journey West for the aging PlayStation console (Lui 2002).

Interestingly enough, Lui’s articulated grievances hark back to the quotation from The Woman Warrior: “What is Chinese tradition and what is the movies?” The difficulties inherent in the lived experience of social contradiction are clearly exemplified in his acerbic tone. Lui’s sense of ‘Chineseness’ and Chinese tradition has been forged both on familial ground and in response to perceived societal norms and circumstances. This sensibility has also been formed simultaneously through and in spite of popular culture. His narration gives voice to the type and range of imag(in)istic desires born out of specific material conditions and social circumstances. His response also partly stands for the experiences of a demographical and generational constituency within Asian America, those who have non-English speaking parents. These variegated concerns shape and inform the needs and subsequent expectations of this gamer. For Lui, the availability of this game in the United States and the possibilities for play that it engenders is irrefutably significant; it offers a productive ludic space for negotiating projected desires.

But what happens when the projected desires for certain types of gameplay and game settings become manifestly fraught? In an article originally published in Viet Weekly, Michael Nguyen (2004) offers a reflective commentary on the prospect of playing games based on the Vietnam War. He prefaces his comments with a consideration of the representational politics in gaming:

The Medal of Honor series, whose previous games had taken place in Europe, released a game last year that focused on fighting against the Japanese, and some worried about how the Japanese gaming crowd would take it.

At the time, I thought the issue was overblown, and in the end, the game actually did well in Japan. As I played these war games, I never sympathized with the other side. “It’s in the past,” I thought. “And it’s just a game. Besides, they (the Germans) were evil. End of story.”

When I heard that games based on the Vietnam War were being made, I was excited. But after returning from a trip to Vietnam, I started to wonder how I would be affected by playing a video game based on the Vietnam War.

This moment of recognition—an enforced engagement with that oft-spouted “imagine if it happens to you” adage—has an affective consequence. Nguyen is compelled to reflect on his own contingent ethics of consumption. He continues:

A lot of war games feature multiple players, and I often read racist comments against the Japanese from other players when I played Medal of Honor regularly a couple of years ago. This never really bothered me.

But I started thinking that if I were playing a Vietnam game, I might take offense to hearing similar talk.

At the base of Nguyen’s concerns with Shellshock: Nam ’67 (Guerrilla Games 2004) is firstly, as a game that is set during the Vietnam War (complete with profanity, gore, and, as he puts it, “the ‘comforts’ of indigenous females”); and, secondly, as a Vietnamese American gamer who desires to play this game. He articulates his anxieties as follows:

While I don’t expect that playing Shellshock will make me cry, it will be a little strange to kill other Vietnamese people, even if they are fictional. Will I feel the temptation yell racist slurs about the Vietnamese while under fire? Will I have an opportunity to shoot down POWs or torch villages? What if I shoot down someone who looks like someone I know, or worse—what if he looks like me?

I do want to play this game. From what I’ve read about it so far, I expect it to be quite good. And I want it to be as haunting and realistic as possible. In a way, it’s another way to get closer to understanding what it meant to live through that war.

And honestly, as much as I love video games, I’ve never been as affected by one mentally as I have by a book or movie. I do wonder what will happen when my dad sees me playing it. I wonder if I’ll see any Vietnamese characters and hear them speak Vietnamese. Wouldn’t it be cool to hear the Viet Cong shout orders in Vietnamese and be able to understand it and use it to my advantage? That would be a nice irony.

Through his hesitations, speculations, and affirmations, Nguyen’s account powerfully captures the range of affective vacillations following on from his self-recognition as a specifically ethnicised gamer. His closing sentiments are especially telling. Like Lui, he too wants to claim a possessive (re)investment in his ethnic identity. Both their accounts nonetheless make clear the processes, conditions, and contingent circumstances under which the desires to explicitly identify as such are created and how these decisions are made.

Conclusion

The collective utterances by and about Asian American gamers discussed in this article function to foreground how “dialectical processes of disciplining and self-identification are produced at the intersections of regulation by nation-states and individuals’ attempts to circumvent or redirect control as well as to (re)imagine their lives in different visions of modernity” (Nonini & Ong 1997, 25). In addition, this study proffers a consideration of diasporic Asian gaming as ‘a site of cultural forms that propose, enact, and embody subjects and practices not contained by the narrative of American citizenship’ (Lowe 1996, 176). Games are thereby not just a medium through which gamers can reflect on or lay claim to their own ethno-cultural positionings. More to the point, as Lui’s and Nguyen’s accounts forcefully demonstrate, gameplay can itself become an affective pedagogical space for variously validating and troubling the gamer’s own sense of identity.

References

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Chow, R. 2001. The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Columbia University Press.

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Hall, S. 1993. Cultural Identity and Diaspora. In Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, edited by P. Williams & L. Chrisman, 392-403. New York: Columbia University Press.

King, B. 2002. “The Gaming Revolution.” AsianWeek. March 28 – April 3, http://www.asianweek.com/2002_03_28/feature.html (accessed March 2, 2006).

Kingston, M.H. 1989. The Woman Warrior (1st pub. 1976). New York: Vintage.

Lee, R.G. 1999. Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Lowe, L. 1996. Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Durham: Duke University Press.

Lui, C.K. 2002. “Review of Saiyuki: Journey West“. http://www.gamecritics.com/review/saiyuki/main.php (accessed March 1, 2005).

Miller, S., & Brousard, G. 1997. “Letter to Elliot Chin”. http://www.apogeegames.com (accessed March 10, 2006).

Ng, J. 2005. “Asian Stereotype.” November 1, http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=5980914&publicUserId=5644929 (accessed February 8, 2008).

Nguyen, M. 2004. “New Vietnam War Video Game Sparks Controversy.” Viet Weekly. September 5, http://news.pacificnews.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=22a27b8af527a81680fc8ce155cddce4 (accessed March 2, 2006).

Nonini, D.M., & Ong, A. 1997. Chinese Transnationalism as an Alternative Modernity. In Ungrounded Empires: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Transnationalism., edited by A. Ong & D. Nonini, 3-33. New York: Routledge.

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Notes

[1] The 2007 conference of the Digital Games Research Association (www.digra.org), the peak body for game studies research, provided a clear sign of this topical multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary orientation. The “Situated Play” conference in Tokyo encapsulated a broad range of recent and ongoing international studies on the locative aspects of games culture and play practices.

[2] I am reproducing verbatim all their expressions, spellings, emoticons, and other idiosyncrasies to accurately reflect their manifest posturing and sense of savvy and sardonic play.

[3] Real-time strategy (RTS) networked computer games—such as StarCraft (Blizzard Entertainment 1998)—and Dance Dance Revolution (Konami 1999), a popular rhythm action arcade game, are often colloquially linked to diasporic Asian gamers.

Author Bio

Dean Chan teaches at the School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University. His research focuses on diasporic Asian cultural production (especially visual arts, comics and graphic novels), East Asian digital gaming and Asian transnationalism. He has published on Asian gaming cultures in journals including Games and Culture, International Review of Information Ethics, Fibreculture Journal and EnterText. He edited the collection Gaming Cultures and Place in the Asia Pacific (2009) with Larissa Hjorth.