Monday, September 23, 2013

Public to Private

Are the times of cumbersome public entertainment structures gone?  Good question.  Though the readings by Chalfen & Murai, and Plotz were informative and interesting, I'm not certain if I have an understanding of Japan's current stance on the Pachinko parlor and Print Club.  Both of these articles were written in 2001-2002, and popular culture, especially digital entertainment have been radically changed by current technologies.  Purika enthusiasts and passionate Pachinko players may be a dying breed, flocking to new, more efficient methods to quench their thirst for social contact, or different forms of absorbing entertainment.  Or perhaps the appeal of both Pachinko and Picture Club is the satiation of the Japanese appetite for machinery and gadgets, as Plotz alluded to.  If this is the case, then they're likely safe in the hands of the Japanese public.

More so than Pachinko, much of the niche that was once satiated by the Picture Club can be replaced by a pocket device.  Print Club Photography in Japan Framing Social Relationships was published in 2001, documenting the Print Club phenomenon that was prevalent in mid-late 1990's Japan.  I would think that the catalyst of the craze of Puriku in Japan was the participant's ability to see their photos, and have their pick of the litter prior to printing out their photos.  The 1990s were in the age of film, which may have granted high quality photos, but the tiresome process of having film developed may have deterred many Japanese youth from participating in any form of social photography.  The immediacy of viewing your photos and printing them following the photo session would have been incredibly appealing in a time reliant on film development.  The era of film cameras was also a time that predated preview screen on digital cameras, restricting participants from viewing their shots, and making 'selfies' a risky use of film.  Cameras of the 1990s often removed the photographer from the photo shoot, giving those who own cameras very little reason to carry cameras as a method to document their adventures with their friends.  All photos of an outing's events would exclude whoever was selfless enough to take the photo, unless you were brave to trust a bystander with taking a quality picture.  Additionally, Picture Club provided photo modifying software and frames that would not be commonly available until years later.  All of these benefits provided by the Print Club cabinets (selfies, photo review, photo modifications) have been downsizes to a device that will fit into your pocket.  Cellphone users can now take selfies with a friend, review the photo, and modify it within seconds on their phone.  In addition, phones are now host to digitized social networks, such as Facebook.  The friend list on Facebook plays a very similar role to the photo albums compiled by Japanese youth who would judge their self-worth based on their ability to acquire stickers of or with their friends.   Does this make Print Club vestigial? Perhaps not, but Print Clubs are an example of a publicly accessible medium which may be replaced by private items.

Much like my paragraph on Picture Club, I can only speculate on the current presence and importance of Japanese Pachinko parlours. Plotz mentions in Pachinko Nation that the popularity of Pachinko parlors has leveled off due to the increased competition from television and video games.  While Pachinko is a somewhat limited medium, requiring minimal engagement from the participant, videogames, for the most part, require much more active engagement.  If the goal of a session of Pachinko is to turn off your brain after a long day's work, I do not see videogames as a threat to Pachinko's popularity.  Television is a much more passive medium, requiring little, if any input from the participant.  Perhaps videogames have aided in the reduced popularity of Pachinko, however, the migration of players from Pachinko to popular videogames would be due to a desire for a more interactive experience, and not necessarily the desire to be absorbed.

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