Resources: 20th February

Three good pieces today, all related to Russian media practices.

Media Piracy in Emerging Economies

This bilingual report frames media piracy as “a failure of affordable access to media in legal markets”, an assertion which gels nicely with the fieldwork responses I’m receiving from Russian gamers. The authors pick up on themes of education, local markets and comparative economic power across six different regions, drawing upon regional specialists who do a great job of contextualising the findings in the appropriate historical and social background. There’s not much on Russian videogames, sadly: a brief note on p160 is about all, but the information on internet and computer penetration is up to date and smartly dissected. As a bonus, the chapters all have hyperlinked sections via some kind of computer wizardry so you can bounce around quite easily and save yourself some scrolling.

 

Tomsk State University’s ‘Digital Humanities’ e-journal

Russian-speakers only for this one. Tomsk State University has an e-journal focusing on the digital humanities which has yielded some gems. It looks like all of the submissions are from within the university but I’ve found D.V. Galkin’s ‘Computer Games as a Phenomenon of Modern Culture‘ useful. Other topics: chat robots for language learning purposes, anthropological aspects of information societies, the psychology of ‘cybersportsmen’, cyber-ethics.

 

Peasant Muse: ‘Textual Dualism & Augmented Reality in the Russian Empire

Jeremy’s been writing some fascinating posts about the long written history of ‘digital dualism’; this post is a really nice round-up of some of his ideas. In particular he discusses strategies used by Russian peasants to escape restrictive bureaucratic definitions of their identities. It’s worth following the links in this post too – he takes a historically grounded view of digital media development and plays with the relationship between analogue and digital in some smart ways.

Issue 6 of Digital Icons: transmediality, new digital phenomena in Russia

The new issue of Digital Icons is up, with a focus on transmediality and new digital phenomena in the Russian-speaking sphere. If you’re not familiar with Digital Icons, it’s a twice-yearly online journal dedicated to new media in Russia, Eurasia and Central Europe. All of the articles are available online in a combination of English, German and Russian.

They’re also launching a new project, Digital Memoirs. The latter promises a “collaborative historical narrative that would define use of digital media, including digital gadgets, digital forms of communication and digital practices, in a post-communist, post-totalitarian space”.

I’ve yet to read the articles in depth but two look particularly promising: Tine Roesen’s piece on the elite social network Snob.ru and Ellen Rutten’s exploration of the culture and news portal Openspace.ru.

UNICEF report on the RuNet Generation

Here’s a useful resource: a UNICEF study of internet use amongst young Russians. The authors present a broad review of available statistics and studies surrounding useage statistics, popular sites, technologies, access and identified risks. I’m pleased to note that they prioritise local expertise, particularly as it’s been my experience that by the time Russian sources are published in English they’re already months and years out of date.

Their findings in brief:

  • The number of Internet users grew from two million in 2000 to 46.5 million by the end of 2010
  • The Russian digital landscape is dominated by Russian-bred sites like Yandex, VKontakte and mail.ru
  • Meeting strangers is the most widespread risk encountered by Russian adolescents and young people. Forty per cent of Russians aged 9-16 reported meeting someone from the online world in real life
  • Significant risks discovered over the course of the study also include adult content, malicious software and cyberbullying

Unfortunately there’s not much about online gaming, just a line pointing out the “dearth of research concerning the prevalence and frequency of online gaming among Russian adolescents and young people” and some sparse statistics from this report which frankly I would like to see verified elsewhere:

  •  75 per cent of Internet users under 18 years of age who play online games play massively multi-player online games (MMOG).
  • On average, they play these games 6 days per week, 7 hours per day.
  • In addition, 25 per cent of this sample play games on social networking sites.
  • On average, games on social networking sites are played 5 days per week, 4 hours per day.

Sections on available technology, the digital divide, Twitter, blogging and e-commerce are somewhat more comprehensive, although that’s only to be expected. I’ve found that there’s a lot of interest in themes of economic development and political resistance when it comes to RuNet so resources abound.

Their final conclusion – that young people need to be educated about the risks of internet use – is a little anaemic. Given the apparent prevalence of internet use by young Russians, I would be very surprised if the conclusions drawn by the UNICEF team aren’t already well understood by the internet users themselves; a perfect example of shutting the stable door behind the horse, I’m guessing. Nevertheless, it’s a solid report and a good introduction to the Russian internet sphere. It’s available in full here.

Survey of Russian MMORPG players

A few months ago I came across a survey of the Russian-speaking MMORPG community by Yuri Bryzgalov. Both the results and the questions he was asking have been hugely productive for my thesis research and will supplement the results of my own survey work. The original documents are, of course, in Russian, but the results are way too good to keep to myself. There’s a real dearth of material about so many gaming cultures outside of the English-speaking world, and even as a non-native Russian speaker it can be incredibly difficult to find statistics about gamers in Russia and Eastern Europe. With that in mind, I recently emailed Yuri to ask his permission to translate his survey and responses into English and post them here. I’ve tried to be as faithful as possible to the original material, both in translation and in formatting. My thanks to Yuri for allowing me to make his valuable research available to English-speaking researchers.

You can download the original Russian document here [pdf].

My translation is available here [pdf].

If you are a Russian speaker who’d like to see the raw data, it’s available online here.

I have a few thoughts about the results that I’ll save for a later post. In the meantime, read, discuss, enjoy!