Folklore, Fun and Fandoms: Discerning the Cultural Logic and Gamified Practices of Fan-Driven Multimedia Translations

Author: Rachel CHAN Suet Kay
Year: 2021
Title: Folklore, Fun and Fandoms: Discerning the Cultural Logic and Gamified Practices of Fan-Driven Multimedia Translations
UKM Ethnic Studies Paper Series No. 69 (August)
ISBN: 978-967-0741-71-0

My research examined internet subcultures where fans unofficially translate multimedia into English by their own volition, and not for profit but for passion. These multimedia include various forms of folklore, such as fiction, art, and comics/manga. The case study we are focusing on in particular is that of English translations of Chinese online fiction. Among my publications which discuss this topic is Game of Translations: Virtual Community doing English Translations of Chinese Online Fiction. In this study, I outline how I first encountered this particular phenomenon of Chinese online fiction, and how I eventually discovered the fans’ English translation, as well as the evolution of how translator-fans themselves began writing their own original online fiction in English, based on Chinese cultural tropes. I explain my methods of immersing myself in this community, from an outsider’s perspective, and how I attempted to understand the cultural logic behind fandom production of cultural material, which is itself an ongoing and organic process. Among other things, I discovered that a lot of social learning takes place within these fandom interactivities, and these too enable discourse to be extended into the realm of education. There is a process of gamification, where fans do not view this activity as labour, but as a gamified practice that occurs within an imagined community. My connected study on another form of fandom, cosplay, as well as the evolution of fan translation into the production of original content, is also shared.

Keywords: cosplay, fanfiction, folklore, gamification, internet subcultures, virtual ethnography

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