EUC Research Adventure in Japan
Japanese adventure was calling for two of our students, Veerle Scholtes and Mirte van Hout. Together they wrote a research paper about whether playing the game League of Legends could have positive effects on people, in contrary to the negative effects that are typically mentioned. They investigated whether there were any significant differences between players and non-players in their levels of sense of belonging. This paper proved so fruitful that their tutor recommended them to submit the paper to a conference on computer entertainment, ACE 2016, and to their surprise, their paper got accepted. This meant that they were invited to present at the ACE conference in Osaka, Japan!
Mirte and Veerle naturally extended their stay in order to experience more of Japan. In a week time, they did not only present at the conference, but also visited the majestic cities of Tokyo and Kyoto. Their journey started the 2nd of November when they landed on the airport and got on the train to Tokyo. They were amazed by all the little houses, old temples and green fields they came across on their way. Their first few days were spent wandering around Tokyo, trying different types of food and visiting temples. During their walks they were even invited to play a game in the street with locals who gladly explained the rules when they noticed the interest Veerle and Mirte had towards what they were doing.
On November 5th they left Tokyo and headed to Kyoto with the Shinkansen, Japan’s beautiful high speed train. The train ride was a very nice opportunity to do some sightseeing in Japan’s less urbanized areas, including the Japanese Alps and the iconic Mount Fuji. After 2,5 hours of watching mountains, eating taugé and catching up on sleep, they arrived at Kyoto Station. Although they visited a number of attractions in a few days, the most memorable one was the Ginkaku-ji park. The temple is the first noticeable element upon entering the park. It used to be the retirement villa of some Japanese emperor in the 15th century, but was turned into a Zen temple after his death. Despite all tourists swarming around, the entire park had a serene and almost magical atmosphere.
After a couple more lovely days of sightseeing, they started attending the conference on November 9th in Osaka. Afraid of being surrounded by PhD students and professors they started the first day with a couple of workshops. Afterwards, they had the opportunity to discuss their papers in smaller groups, and presented a short summary of the discussion to everybody who was there. They even decided to split up in order to meet as many people as possible. Although they noticed that locals tended to be a little silent or hesitant during discussions, they experienced firsthand the benefits of PBL in engaging conversations with others. After all the official events, they were invited to the typical Japanese late night activity: a karaoke bar.
They woke up the next day with a strange feeling, being a little tensed, but in an excited way. The presentation itself went pretty well, they had the feeling they spoke way too fast, but that was actually very convenient to stay in their time limit. The questions they were asked at the end of the presentation required them to be a little more creative and step out of their comfort zone, but they managed well! After exploring little gimmicks and inventions showcased and presented at the conference they had to pack their stuff and head back to the airport to get their flight back. It has been a wonderful journey full of surprising and beautiful experiences, and they were extremely impressed with the Japanese culture.