Before beginning the Brackenridge Fellowship, my understanding of academic research was very limited. This was my first real chance to fully apply the knowledge I already had as well as to greatly expand that knowledge. One area where my understanding changed was in the actual value you can find in various sources. At the start, I proceeded by taking notes from my sources and then applying it to my project afterwards. However, as I continued working, I realized it was far more helpful to actively engage with whatever source I might be using throughout the project’s creation. I had originally believed that doing this would lead to unintentional “copy and paste” style adaption of a source’s ideas, restricting the amount of original insight I could provide. However, I came to understand that keeping the research and creation processes completely separate placed a much larger limitation when it came to making the most out of each source. I learned to apply a similar mindset to the relationship between different cases in my research, which in my case were different buildings or locations in Japan. I realized that the presentation of the locations in the context of the others formed the narrative I was trying to develop, rather than each location acting as a discrete stopping point.
These changes came about thanks to the breakout room discussions I had with my fellow researchers. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the program, it was very valuable to hear the different ways they approached the act of combining two seemingly separate areas of study. On the whole, my experience with this research has illustrated the importance of keeping a less strict outlook on the barriers between different subjects. This ties into what I found most valuable about this experience; I realize now just how crucial it is to keep an open mind in an academic setting. Even when a situation seems to be clear-cut and inextricable from unchanging data, there’s always room to build beyond that, to work outside the box.
Now that the program is coming to an end, there are many things I find myself looking forward to. Of course, my work on this project will continue, as there are a plethora of locations in Japan’s rich history that I have yet to incorporate, as well as further improvements I can make from a game development standpoint. Additionally, I hope to take both of these components and see where else I can apply them further along in my academic career. I imagine I can improve on the game development skills I gained here and do more interactive, interdisciplinary work down the line. I also hope to visit the places I studied in Japan one day, so I can see things that articles and videos might not be able to portray, and to witness the living narrative of Japanese culture in progress.
I’m very grateful to have gotten the opportunity to design my own research based on a combination of my passions, and to have met so many other scholars who were able to teach me so much.