Introducing Shuji Watanabe

The GRAND Digital Humanities project welcomes Shuji Watanabe. He is an Associate Professor of Image Arts and Science visiting the University of Alberta from Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. He is in Edmonton on sabbatical for 7 months with his family.

His research is around prototyping user generated content games. At the University of Alberta he is collaborating with GRAND researchers Geoffrey Rockwell and Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon.

Professor Watanabe’s experience includes the planning and overseeing of various games such as Magic Pengel(/Garakuta Meisaku Gekijo Rakugaki Okoku)/, which was recommended by the Examination Committee at the 15th Media Arts Festival Media Art Interactive Division, and Minna no shiro, which won the Grand Prize at the First Annual Game Koshien Awards. He is an advocate of “ecological-sketch”, which visualizes rules and is a game design technique that begins from observations of the world as opposed
to imitating the works of others. He conducts research and development in not only traditional game development, but also in applicable fields such as education and crisis management appropriate for “gamification”. He is a member of the Research Committee, Japan Digital Game Association
and Steering Committee, Ritsumeikan Center of Game Studies.

Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon: GRAND Scholar

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Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon has been selected to be a 2014 GRAND Scholar associated with the Digital Humanities (DigHum) project.

Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon is a former recipient of the Monbukagakusho Research Student Fellowship awarded by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. He conducted research at Wako University (Tokyo) on Japanese video game culture and game localization, expanding on the subject of his master degree previously obtained at McGill University. He blogs for Kinephanos where he is also currently co-editing a new journal issue on Japanese video games and the media mix.

He is currently enrolled at the University of Alberta in the programs of Comparative Literature and Humanities Computing where he has worked on GRAND projects since starting his Ph.D. program. Current projects for GRAND include the translation of the book Famicon to sono jidai, the organization of the coming Replaying Japan 2014 conference, liaison agent for the Bioware Video Game Archive and design for mobile games on the fAR-Play platform. His thesis subject focuses on the analysis of Japanese arcade culture, specifically through the social affordances provided by the interplay between game software, cabinet design and the space of the venue.



Encountering the Media Mix – Perspectives on the Kakokawa Summer Media Mix Program

Kadokawa Summer Program

Two GRAND DH graduate students participated in a special seminar on Japanese popular culture in Tokyo this July that was organized in collaboration with the publishing house Kadokawa hoten and the University of Tokyo. About twenty students from around the world and twenty students from the University of Tokyo were invited to take part in this special research encounter centred around the theme of the ¨media mix¨, the Japanese embodiment of the concept better known as ¨convergence culture¨ in North America. I was fortunate enough to be invited as one of those students.


With the recent works of Henry Jenkins (Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide) and especially of Marc Steinberg (Anime’s Media Mix) the subject of intermedial connections between forms of popular culture is becoming important for academics in the arts and humanities. During the two weeks of the event, we developed our awareness of the issues around the ways media are mixed in Japan as well as becoming better equipped to deal with the mix in our own work. Coupled with a series of fantastic paper presentations by experts in the field and a great on-site cultural experience in Tokyo, this event should have an impact on reflections on contemporary Japanese popular culture.


While a great seminar, the activities were limited to invited students. With the objective of sharing the ideas with a wider audience, I have produced a three-part blog series (in French) on the website of the academic journal Kinephanos in order to chronicle what I considered to be the highlights of the Kadokawa Summer Media Mix Program. I invite French readers to take a look a those entries should they have an interest on Japanese popular culture, the media mix or convergence culture in general. Hopefully, those will also stimulate other to think about those issues.