Educational Game

Passing the Flame of Care: A study of Shitu (Master-Apprentice) Social Relationship in Chinese Video Games Based on the Examination of JX3

Abstract
Shitu, translated as Master-Apprentice, is a unique type of digital relationship that exists in Chinese massively multiplayer online role-playing games(MMORPGs) such as JX3. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in the study of the digitized social relationship in online video games, but few have studied the social interactions between the Shifu (master) and Tudi (apprentice) in video games. Previous studies (Cole and Griffiths, 2007, Eklund&Roman, 2015) tend to divide video game players into 3 categories by their types of player to player interactions, while this research further explores the Master-Apprentice relationship as the 4th category. It will demonstrate the history of Shitu relationship in Chinese culture and previous video games, then demonstrate its features compared to other types of digital relationships, its application in in-game activities and lastly potential influences on game players and community.
About the Author
Shenghan Gao

Shenghan Gao a freelance video editor, an experienced game film producer, and also a start-level game researcher. With a background in Film and Media at Queen's University, she produced a few short films during school time, as well as participated in several film festivals in different countries. Besides professional works, she is a video game lover and produce game videos in my free time. She started producing game films and game-based music videos using game movie editor since 2017 and worked as a freelance video editor of her favourite game, JX3, until the present. Being a digital artist, she loves classical Chinese culture and history, as well as culture-related new media such as games since she grew up in China. As a result, her current research interest is game culture and differences between Asian and Western gaming, and her master thesis at Ryerson’s Master of Digital Media program is about the unique Shitu(master-apprentice) social relationship in Chinese video games.

About the Project

As one of the new concepts in recent decades, digital media and its content are now replacing traditional media with increasing popularity among young generations. At the same time, a big difference in social behaviour nowadays emerged, compared to the era when people were not connected digitally. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of the countries decide social distancing is necessary for citizens, there is also a trend for companies and schools to move their work and education online to avoid risks. A large number of researchers studied social connectedness and their patterns in various digital platforms, such as certain online communities on social media. However, only a few have recognized that in recent years, there is also a growing number of virtual communities formed in online entertainment industries. One of the examples is online video gaming. Previous studies have indicated that online multiplayer games often require cooperative team play(Vella, Johnson & Mitchell, 2016) and therefore form a more permanent association with rosters and hierarchies, which is usually referred to as the guild(Williams, Caplan & Xiong, 2007). Interestingly, compared to popular western multiplayer online role-playing games(MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, Chinese Wuxia video games have some special relationships in the virtual space, and one of them is the Shitu, which translates to the Master-Apprentice relationship in Mandarin. This research investigates the the history of Shitu relationship in Chinese culture and previous video games, then demonstrate its features compared to other types of digital relationships, its application in in-game activities and lastly potential influences on game players and community.


MY NEONORMAL STORY
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of the countries decide social distancing is necessary for citizens, there is also a trend for companies and schools to move their work and education online to avoid risks. In the last few months, the World Health Organization (WHO) has promoted the #PlayApartTogether campaign to encourage people to stay socially connected from home, such as play online games while remaining physically social distancing, which again indicates that gaming can be a social activity. In fact, video gaming is often stereotyped as an isolated, antisocial activity, but after this pandemic, I would assume less people will believe so, after they have tried keep connected with friends and families digitally in recent days. My research topic, on ther other hand, is a particulair social connection that exists in Chinese video games, which is the Shitu(translated as master-apprentice) mentorship. It has similiarities compared to the online education, which we are currently experiencing, but the connection seems much personal and usually last for a longer time. Being a game player, I also have experience of being taught by others when I enjoy the game. I am always interested in the social relationshp in vidoe games, and the master-apprentice stands so unique that it only exists in most of Asian games. Therefore, I decided to study its nature and some interesting features, including similiarites and differenties comparing to other online social relationships, as well as its possible impacts on everyone. With that being said, I also want to mention one interesting fact--during the quarantine, I actually had more time to spend online observing players' behaviours as well as collecting data.