Pelitaito-hankkeen loppuseminaari

[Final seminar of Pelitaito project] Tiedoksi: pelikulttuuria ja pelilukutaitoa edistämään sekä pelihaittoja ennalta ehkäisemään pyrkinyt Pelitaito-projekti toteuttaa hankkeen loppuseminaarin Helsingissä 6.11.2014. Seminaari on maksuton ja paikalle mahtuu 200 ensimmäisenä ilmoittautunutta. Tässä on linkki ilmoittautumissivulle, sekä loppuseminaarin ohjelma:

Good Game – Pelitaito-projektin loppuseminaari

Torstaina 6.11.2014 klo 9-16

Ostrobotnian juhlasali, Museokatu 10, Helsinki

Seminaarin puheenjohtaja, suunnittelija Tommi Tossavainen, Kansallinen audiovisuaalinen instituutti KAVI

9:00–10:00 Aamukahvi ja ilmoittautuminen

10:00–10:10 Seminaarin avaus: Kari Vuorinen, innovaatio- ja talousjohtaja, EHYT ry
10:10–10:35 Pelihaittatyö – sillanrakennusta vai aitojen pystytystä? Saini Mustalampi, kehittämispäällikkö, THL
10.35–10.40 Keskustelu

10:40–11:05 Mitä on pelisivistys? Mikko Meriläinen, projektiasiantuntija, Pelitaito-projekti
11.05–11:10 Keskustelu
11:10–11:30 Kukkahattu eSportsin tarina: Pelitaito-projekti


12:30–13:00 Voimaantuminen ja pelit – pelifantasian monet maailmat: Frans Mäyrä, professori, Tampereen yliopisto
13:00–13:15 Kommenttipuheenvuoro: Jonne Arjoranta, pelitutkija, Jyväskylän yliopisto

13:15–13:40 Pelien yhteisöllisyys: Marko Siitonen, yliopistonlehtori (FT), Jyväskylän yliopisto
13:40–13:55 Kommenttipuheenvuoro: SEUL ry:n edustaja
13:55–14:00 Keskustelu

14:00–14:30 Kahvi

14:30–15:30 Paneeli: Parempaa pelaamista – miten edistetään pelikasvatusta ja ehkäistään pelihaittoja?
Paneelissa mukana:
KooPee Hiltunen, johtaja, Neogames ry
Jarmo Kumpulainen, strategia- ja edunvalvontajohtaja, RAY
Mikko Meriläinen, projektiasiantuntija, Pelitaito-projekti
Antti Murto, erikoissuunnittelija, THL
Tero Pasanen, pelitutkija, Jyväskylän yliopisto

15:30–16:00 Loppuyhteenveto: pj. Tommi Tossavainen, suunnittelija KAVI
Kiitokset: Kari Vuorinen, innovaatio- ja talousjohtaja, EHYT ry

16:00 Seminaari päättyy

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Working with the Disciplinarity in Game Studies


Summer School, Utrecht

The Summer School of Games and Play Research kicked off in Monday in Utrecht, where a large number of games scholars and students had gathered for two weeks of intensive discussions and presentations. One of the key challenges for setting up this kind of event for this field is related to its aims, and how the Summer School will address the wide reach of different branches of science and scholarship that is somehow related to games and play — should there be, e.g. a course on mathematical Game Theory, or something about current trends in programming in Game Development?

The planning group of the Summer School did its own decisions on how to profile the School, aiming to include those dimensions that relate to humanities, human sciences and design research in particular. Thus, there were sessions for example on the Psychology in Game and Play Research, as well as humanities and design oriented sessions, but Computer Science as well as the Economics, Law, and many other interesting disciplines where games and play are today researched were left off-focus at this time.

In my opening keynote I tried to address the multiplicity of origins, the evolution, and search for identity in Game Studies from multiple angles. As also the data from the games researcher survey I presented proves, this field is highly multi- and interdisciplinary: there are scholars coming from great many different degree programs and disciplinary backgrounds, they collaborate often closely with scholars coming from other fields, and it is also very common to change from one discipline to another. As a field, Game Studies is highly dynamic, and attracts people from all sides of academia. Yet, these people also rather strongly self-identify as a somewhat coherent group: they feel that they are indeed “(digital) games researchers”, and overwhelming majority of respondents of that survey also reported of being “gamers” themselves. (For full details, see: Mäyrä, Frans, Jan Van Looy & Thorsten Quandt (2013) “Disciplinary Identity of Game Scholars: An Outline”. Proceedings of DiGRA 2013. Atlanta: Georgia Tech & DiGRA. [])

However, to counterbalance the polyphony of different voices and discourses addressing games and play today, also certain disciplinary elements are needed. The academic evaluation, both at the level of individual publications, as well as when job positions are being filled, requires that there are ways to recognise those who are best qualified to comment on the quality of research as Game Studies, and not judge it according to criteria of some other field. This is somewhat tricky thing, of course, and subject of negotiation every time such evaluation work is carried out. Is this something that should be evaluated as humanities oriented Game Studies — or as something with more Social Sciences focus? Is the position filled mainly so that there will be solid conceptual analyst or theorist in the faculty, or for finding someone who can act as a bridge builder between academia and games industry, for example?

I would say that today, like more than a decade ago when the question of disciplinarity of Game Studies was emphatically taken up, there is as much need for “disciplinary work” in the field as ever: there is need for conceptual clarity, continuity and cumulative understanding of key dimensions of games and play research, and also need for standards and reference texts that are necessary milestones in degree programs. However, I would not want to see Game Studies to calcify according any single “dogma” or “right way” of carrying out academic work. And it need not — any disciplinary field with an identity and a living community of scholars is based on constant renegotiation of what “we are”, what this discipline actually is, and what are its key focus areas. It might help to think about organism like amoeba: it has boundaries, it has “inside” and “outside”, but those boundaries are constantly in the move, and adapt to the chancing environment, sometimes engulfin some new element within itself, sometimes possibly even dividing into several new organisms (or: maybe amoeba do not do that? I am more likely thinking of bacteria here…)

There are practical concerns in Game Studies like in any other field in contemporary academia, as the university system is undergoing restructuring and many fields of learning need to provide good reasons for its existence and functions in a society. Game Studies certainly serves important scholarly functions, by addressing phenomena of major significance in the “Ludic Society” of today and tomorrow. The understanding of games, their history, genres, ways of how such dynamic systems operate, their design principles and how they are experienced by different kinds of people — all such things are needed, not only by academic researchers in this field, but also increasingly by experts who want to understand the changes in society, culture, learning, commerce, social interaction, etc. Thus, my claim: “in the future, every discipline needs to be a Game Studies discipline”. On the other hand, it is not enough to have some minor elements related to digital media, online communication and games scattered in several, disconnected degree programs in various parts of academia. There is also need for a “core discipline”, and an increasing (even if still rather modest) need for graduates that can be the experts who provide the reference work and theoretical and practical foundation of games and play research, so that it can then be applied in many other fields as well.

The program of Summer School was built to reflect this kind of principles of multiplicity and unity: the morning keynotes provided coherent arguments and perspectives into what games and play research is, or should be. The afternoons start with disciplinary seminars, where people coming and working within somewhat shared academic frameworks can develop their joint responses and interpretations of those same themes, and to develop their distinctive own agendas. The final element in the program are the more experimental, interdisciplinary workshops and the game jam, designed to bring together people from multiple sides of the research field, and to catalyse new ideas, creative concepts, and processes.

Unfortunately my busy schedules forced me to leave the Summer School early, but I wish everyone very fruitful and stimulating days in Utrecht, and look forward to the results, conclusions and any feedback that will be coming from it. Long live Game Studies – One, and Many!

You can find my keynote slides embedded below:


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European Summer School in Games and Play Studies

Next two weeks will be intensive time in Utrecht, the Netherlands, as “Identity and Interdisciplinarity in Games and Play Research”, the joint European Summer School of games and play studies takes place at the Utrecht University. My keynote takes place first in Monday, August 18th, and it is titled “From Interdisciplinarity to Identity and Back: The Dual Character of Academic Game Studies”. More information and full program is available at:

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Multi.Player 2 conference

Next week there will the Multi.Player 2: Compete, Cooperate, Communicate conference in Münster, Germany. There will be keynotes presented by Richard Bartle, Chris Ferguson, John L. Sherry and myself. The title of my talk is “Mixed Pleasures: Interdisciplinary Perspectives into ‘Social Games'”; you can find more information here:

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Analog Game Studies

Analog Game Studies (Dice Photo by Dave Ward)

Analog Game Studies (Dice Photo by Dave Ward)

Digital games are not everything there is in games, far from it. There is now a new journal, Analog Game Studies, for all of us interested in board games, table-top role-playing games, card games — I think that actually means most of contemporary game scholars. There has been long-standing discussion that the name of DiGRA should be changed to “GRA” instead (taking “Digital” away from its dominating position of games research), but information technologies sure has been a catalyst for some interesting developments in the field of game cultures, as well as in industry, of course. When there are more dedicated venues of the different forms which games and play are realized in, then we can more clearly see the universals, as well as the particularities, of these specific forms. Link: .

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CFP: Thinking, analysing and designing Expressive Games

Spread the word:

International seminar


Thinking, analysing and designing Expressive Games


24-25 November 2014, METZ, FRANCE
CREM / LORIA, University of Lorraine

Selection Process

Proposals are expected by 1st September 2014. They must be sent in the form of an abstract of 800 – 1000 words (excluding bibliography). Each proposal shall indicate the last name, the first name, the status and the institution the author is affiliated to.
All proposals should be sent to Continue reading

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Quantum Angel

kindle & butterflyThere has been much talk about science fiction turning from its themes and milieu from the outer space adventures of “classic science fiction” to the “inner spaces” of modern sci-fi — I prefer the “ontological dominant” thesis, put forward by Brian McHale: Western fiction in general has turned away from the prior epistemological themes to ontological questions, as we have moved from modern times to the (increasingly self-reflective) post-modern ones.

This summer, I have had the rare pleasure of reading few novels that I have really enjoyed. One was the Blindsight by Peter Watts — a complex novel outwardly narrating a desperate expedition to intercept an alien artefact, which actually turns into discussion about the nature of consciousness, whether we humans are actually “conscious”, and to a what degree, and whether being “conscious” is really necessarily an evolutionary benefit. Another one was The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi — the final book in the “Jean Le Flambeur” trilogy. Also here, the ontological themes dominate: what constitutes a “world”, or a “self”, how multiple both can be, and what kind of opportunities for innovation (both scientific, as well as dramatic) will those multi-realities open up.

For a game studies scholar particularly one faction, the zoku, of this far future civilization scenario are of interest. Their culture is one that appears to descend from MMORPGs and their players, and they provide a counter-force to another posthuman group, the sobornost. The name of sobornost refers back to a concept of Orthodox Christianity, the harmonious spiritual unity, and it is interesting to note that even while the mixed, polyphonic and conflicting world of Rajamäki’s trilogy carefully avoids any simple good versus evil opposition, the opposition between “orthodoxy” and “ludic mindset”, or seriousness and playfulness perhaps, emerges as one of the clear division lines in the work. There are also many amusing references to pick up (“Saint McGonigal”, “Huizinga-zoku”, etc.) for those versed in gamification and game studies. For a Finn, the Oortians, living in the cold margins of the Solar System, carry many familiar elements, even while their culture is more like some general, archaic Finno-ugrig shamanism, than the culture of Finns themselves — just the occasional Finnish word underlines the cultural connection.

The complexities of quantum entanglements, nano-scale technologies, simulated realities and multiple-copy personalities go beyond my science literacy, but it is remarkable evidence of Hannu Rajamäki’s storytelling gifts that even this very dense novel, moving at high speed, remains genuinely interesting and even emotionally touching — a true sign of lasting value. It is finally Mieli, the female, winged Oortian fighter spirit, who becomes the true main character of this final novel, and it is also she who becomes the titular “Causal Angel”, who is capable of turning the end of the world into a new beginning. This is a book series which clearly profits from multiple readings, to appreciate its multiple threads and dimensions.

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