I went out to dinner with a friend the other day and he said the strangest thing. We were in the middle of a conversation when I got distracted by something. After the distraction passed, my friend said, "Ok, to get back to the anthropology, so in Team Fortress 2..."
Now, I am in Taiwan to study video games, so perhaps it should not seem odd to me that my friend would refer to our discussion of video games as anthropology, but it did. It struck me because I had not been thinking of terms of research all night.
My friend had called me up and asked if I wanted to get dinner. I had been studying all day for prelims and so I welcomed the break. I put my studying aside and immediately turned my attention away from anthropology and onto food…so much so in fact that it didn’t even immediately register when our conversation turned to Team Fortress 2. Why would it? We talk about video games all the time. It was normal.
I knew before I came to Taiwan that fieldwork was not confined to formal interviews or that it ever took place in contrived settings. I learned from my previous research that the best information is that which I trip over when I am not looking for it. Even so, here I am, still being surprised when I trip again.
So much for that break.