Issue 14, February 2008

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Think Big . Think Impact . Think Global - RGC Chair Urges Academics
Predicting the Influence of
Crosswinds on Vehicles
and Cable Bridges
Addressing the Injustice of Space and Housing
Globalisation of Popular Culture
Translations Bring Gao Xingjian's Work to Broader Audience
Best Practice for Project Briefings
New Measurement Aids Understanding of Cement Hydration

Comics, video games, music and movies – they are all elements of popular culture. And according to Professor Benjamin Ng, Hong Kong is rapidly moving from being a consumer of this wide ranging media to a partner in its production, particularly in the context of Japanese popular culture.

Globalisation, he says has been the main stimulant for this change.

Professor Ng and his research team at Chinese University have been studying Japanese popular culture and its impact on Hong Kong's own creative industry for the last five years. Their studies, supported by the Research Grants Council, aims to deepen understanding of the globalisation and localisation of the Japanese Animation, Comic-Game (ACG) industry in an East Asian context. A consistent trend indicates that multi-national collaboration has increased in recent years.

"Originally Hong Kong was solely a consumer of Japanese popular culture. Today it has become heavily involved in production. Production teams are generally multi-national, but for video games especially, Hong Kong expertise in graphic design and production has resulted in Japanese animated pictures and games being produced here," he says.

The production of video games is a competitive industry in which Hong Kong needs to work hard to maintain its edge.

"Our studies show that in this age of globalisation, we see trans-national flows of ideas everywhere. Hong Kong has to compete with countries such as South Korea, India and The Philippines, particularly in the area of games

development. As successful as we have become, we still have much to learn from Japan especially when it comes to maximising a game's potential across
other media."

Japan is regarded as a leader in the field of media mix where a product – whether it is a game, movie or CD - is developed with the potential for multiple end products. An idea can start with a comic book, but may eventually be translated into a video game, a CD of music, a television drama or a movie.

"In Hong Kong music is music; a movie is a movie," says Professor Ng. "We don't
yet have the production line in place to maximise a product commercially across the range of media. Japan takes a holistic approach to creativity and production. To go to the next level, Hong Kong must change its mindset on this."

Traditionally, Japan has enjoyed a large domestic market to stimulate its ACG industry development. Hong Kong's industry is now starting to look at the potential of mainland China as a market for its integrated products.

"At the moment, we have a misleading image that Hong Kong's cult industry is marginalised. Revenues are certainly dropping. But Hong Kong people with talent are making an impact on Hollywood and in China across a range of disciplines and all under the umbrella of creativity. At the end of the day, it will be investments out of Hollywood or China that nurtures Hong Kong's talent and develops the true creative potential of people."

Professor Ng maintains that globalisation is the stimulation for all creative talent.

"Globalisation brings cultural assimilation and interaction between a range of people. The resultant hybrid culture is a very creative culture that offers the consumer greater choice."

Professor Ng's current study is producing a web site and a data base that can be accessed by academics and the public alike. Both will be completed in 2008.

Professor Ng Wai Ming
Department of Japanese Studies
The Chinese University of Hong Kong