Friday, March 19, 2010

Do Taipei Expats = FFXI?

I came to Taiwan under the delusion that I would be (that I should be)spending all of my time with local gamers. That is, after all, what my dissertation is going to be focused on. There were two factors that hindered this goal, however. First, I stayed in a guest house and second, I went to school to study Mandarin. These two factors dominated my early social life in Taipei and both necessarily meant that I was predominantly meeting foreigners.

Interestingly, my first Mandarin teacher often commented on how this was a natural development (and once even suggested a romantic prospect for me) based on the idea that since we were all Americans (we weren’t all Americans, but locals will sometimes, I have noticed, use ‘American’ as synonymous with ‘foreigner’) we all shared a common culture and therefore could more easily relate. What my teacher could not have known was that the expat culture is not the same as the culture back home.

This fact became blatantly obvious to me very shortly after arriving in Taiwan, but it took me sometime to fully digest what this meant. This was in part because it took me sometime to become adequately acculturated, and I needed to do that before I was able to start seeing the differences between people’s actions within this culture and people’s discursive descriptions of this culture.

After I got over the initial novelty of Taiwan, Taiwanese culture, and expat culture, I came to realize that the expat culture here bugged me. It was a partially subconscious annoyance, however, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, until I realized that I have been through this before… when I was first being acculturated into the MMO culture of FFXI.

Ok, this blog post is way too long as it is. I’ll flesh this out in the next post.

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