Talk in London about Hybrid Playful Experiences

I will give a talk about “Hybrid Playful Experiences – Bridging the Physical-Digital Divide” this Wednesday in London, at the Innovations for the Benefit of Packaging and Commercial Printing event. This research is related both the the ‘Hybrid Media COST Action’ (FP1104) that we collaborate with several European partners, as well as research on playfulness and hybrid experiences, carried out in such research projects of ours as Hybridex, OASIS, Ludification of Culture and Society and others. The vacation period is July in Finland, but there is still some work to do – this will be my last work trip though, before the summer vacation starts. More information about the event: http://wcpcswansea.com/events/24-06-2015/Innovations-for-the-Benefit-of-Packaging-and-Commercial-Printing#agenda .

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The Dark Side of Game Play, book out

Dark Side of Game Play book cover.

Dark Side of Game Play book.

Finally: the very important “Dark Play” volume that has long been in the making is finally out! Titled The Dark Side of Game Play: Controversial Issues in Playful Environments (Routledge 2015), the work is edited by the excellent team of Torill Elvira Mortensen, Jonas Linderoth and Ashley ML Brown. It includes 15 chapters expanding our understanding of what ‘play’ is and what it means, including my text about “dark play of children”, including the sometimes perhaps subversive uses for LEGO pieces and video games they often come up with (a draft version of my chapter is here). Here is the table of contents:

Part I: Introduction

1. Dark Play: The Aesthetics of Controversial Playfulness
Torill Elvira Mortensen and Jonas Linderoth

Part II: Discourses of Dark Play

2. Analyzing Game Controversies: A Historical Approach to Moral Panics and Digital Games
Faltin Karlsen

3. Of Heroes and Henchmen: The Conventions of Killing Generic Expendables in Digital Games
René Glas

4. Don’t Forget to Die: A Software Update is Available for the Death Drive
Emily Flynn-Jones

Part III: Dark Play or Darkly Played?

5. Killing Digital Children: Design, Discourse and Player Agency
Björn Sjöblom

6. Little Evils: Subversive Uses of Children’s Games
Frans Mäyrä

7. Darkly Playing Others
Miguel Sicart

Part IV: Dark Play and Situated Meaning

8. Three Defences for the Fourteen-Inch Barbed Penis: Darkly Playing with Morals, Ethics and Sexual Violence
Ashley ML Brown

9. Exploring the Limits of Play: A Case Study of Representations of Nazism in Games
Adam Chapman and Jonas Linderoth

10. Keeping the Balance: Morals at the Dark Side
Torill Elvira Mortensen

11. Fabricated Innocence: On How People Can be Lured into Feel Bad Games
Staffan Björk

Part V: Designing for Dark Play

12. Massively Multiplayer Dark Play; Treacherous Play in EVE Online
Marcus Carter

13. Dark Play in Dishonored
Kristine Jørgensen

14. Sonic Descents: Musical Dark Play in Survival and Psychological Horror
Isabella van Elferen

15. Boosting, Glitching and Modding Call of Duty: Assertive Dark Play Manifestations, Communities, Pleasures and Organic Resilience
Alan Meades

Link to publisher’s information page about the book: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138827288/.

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MEC 2015 keynote, Salla

This week I have the pleasure of delivering the keynote in MEC 2015 conference in Salla, Lapland. My title is “Games, Play and Playfulness: Ludic Turn in Culture and Society?” The conference programme is available at: http://www.ulapland.fi/InEnglish/About-us/News–Events/Events/Events-2015/MEC-2015/Programme

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Price for mobile use value: laptops

Chromebook 2 on scale.

Toshiba Chromebook 2 on scale.

I did a quick comparison of three kinds of laptops: a touchscreen Win8-PC, Macbook Pro, and a Chromebook. Since I am primarily interested in how much use time I get, for which price, and how much weight I need to carry around, here is a simple metric for the price of such “mobile use value” of a laptop. ASUS Vivobook X202E (500 €) = 1,5 kg, MacBook Pro Retina 13 (1300 €) = 2.2 kg, Toshiba Chromebook 2 Full HD/IPS (400 €) = 1,5 kg (all weights with the powerbrick included, my Mac is also protected by a Tech21 case). Vivobook’s battery runs out in c. 3-4 hours, Toshiba should go for 8 hours, and the Mac can do perhaps 9-11 hours (this is the late 2013 model). The “metric” for price/hours*weight comparison would thus be:

  • ASUS Vivobook: 500/4*1,5 = 188
  • Macbook Pro: 1300/10*2,2 = 286
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2: 400/8*1,5 = 75

Your needs may vary, but with these criteria of mine, Toshiba Chromebook 2 is pretty much in its own class regarding this kind of mobile use value (light-weight, capable laptop with adequate battery life and moderate price). Chrome OS is mostly limited by its reliance on various online services, and particularly on daily work, moving data and files from one service to another may require some extra steps, but in my tests, almost everything that needs to be done, can be done also with a Chromebook. And the totally silent, solid laptop with good keyboard, responsive touchpad and amazing, Full-HD IPS screen provides excellent user experience. MacBook Pro is much more premium device, but with its price-tag I feel less confident throwing it into my back while running into bus/airport etc. (hence, the Tech21 case). A Chromebook can even be lost on the road – and all data is still safe in the cloud, not in the laptop. (The “Smart Lock” of Chromebook detects when myself/my Android phone is not nearby, and will automatically lock itself.) A budget Windows laptop like my old ASUS Vivobook simply cannot compete here, it is much slower than either of the two others, its touchpad is pretty terrible and touchscreen use of Win8.1 has its continuous challenges. Add there mediocre battery life, and you do not have best value for mobile use.

Toshiba Chromebook 2.

Toshiba Chromebook 2 (viewing angles, from the sides).

One could of course add tablet devices like iPad Air 2 or the forthcoming Surface Pro 4 into the equation here, and argue that they’d make more sense than a Chromebook – even according to the above metric. That might be true for some, but in my use I rely on the classic “clamshell” design of a laptop, and an add-on keyboard is never the same. MacBook Air, or the new 12″ MacBook are very good devices for mobile use, but the price is not in the Chromebook range. But: everyone makes their own decisions, in the end. My guess is that particularly in the education sector Chromebooks will do increasingly well in this new era of “Cloud Computing”.

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Paris keynote 

I am happy to be the keynote speaker in the “Game Studies – à la française!” conference that takes place in the University Paris 13, 3-5 June 2015. My talk is titled “Inter- and Multidisciplinarity of Game Studies: The Expanding Challenges”. You can access the conference program here: http://gsalf.hypotheses.org/edition-2015-les-supports-du-jeu-video/le-programme

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Narrative Theory, Literature, and New Media: new book

Narrative Minds, Virtual Worlds (cover).

Narrative Minds, Virtual Worlds.

New book, edited by Mari Hatavara, Matti Hyvärinen, Maria Mäkelä and myself, is now available for pre-order: Narrative Theory, Literature, and New Media: Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds (Routledge). This interdisciplinary work discusses and analyses constructions of storyworlds and minds in games as well as in literature and media from multiple perspectives. Here is the table of contents:

Introduction: Minds in Action, Interpretive Traditions in Interaction Mari Hatavara, Matti Hyvärinen, Maria Mäkelä, and Frans Mäyrä

Section I

1. Texts, Worlds, Stories: Narrative Worlds as Cognitive and Ontological Concept Marie-Laure Ryan

2. Storyworlds and Paradoxical Narration: Putting Classifications to a Transmedial Test Liviu Lutas

3The Charge against Classical and Post-Classical Narratologies’ “Epistemic” Approach to Literary FictionGreger Andersson

Section II

4. How You Emerge from This Game Is up to You: Agency, Positioning, and Narrativity in The Mass Effect Trilogy Hanna-Riikka Roine

5. Playing the Worlds of Prom Week Ben Samuel, Dylan Lederle-Ensign, Mike Treanor, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Josh McCoy, Aaron Reed, and Michael Mateas

6.Scripting Beloved Discomfort: Narratives, Fantasies, and Authenticity in Online Sadomasochism J. Tuomas Harviainen

7.Storyworld in Text-Messages: Sequentiality and Spatialisation Agnieszka Lyons

Section III

8. Defending the Private and the Unnarratable: Doomed Attempts to Read and Write Literary and Cinematic Minds in Marguerite Duras’s India Cycle Tytti Rantanen

9. Of Minds and Monsters: the Eventfulness of Monstrosity and the Poetics of Immersion in Horror LiteratureGero Brümmer

10. Narrative Conventions in Hallucinatory Narratives Tommi Kakko

11.Narrative and Minds in the Traditional Ballads of Early Country Music Alan Palmer

Section IV

12.Mind Reading, Mind Guessing, or Mental-State Attribution? The Puzzle of John Burnside’s A Summer of Drowning Matti Hyvärinen

13 Mind as World in the Reality Game Show Survivor Maria Mäkelä

14 Performing Selves and Audience Design: Interview Narratives on the Internet Jarmila Mildorf

15 Documenting Everyday Life: Mind Representation in the Web Exhibition “A Finnish Winter Day” Mari Hatavara

Afterword: A New Normal? Brian McHale

Publisher book page link: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138854147/.

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‘Mobile Games’ in the International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication & Society

International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication & Society (three volumes).

International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication & Society

This is a pretty massive reference book (three volumes, 1296 pages) and it should include wealth of materials that is helpful if you study e.g. online gaming, social media, hate speech, or any other of the dozens of its interesting topics. The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication & Society has been edited and written by some of the leading experts in Internet and game studies, and I am happy today to put online my small contribution – a short article titled “Mobile Games”: http://people.uta.fi/~frans.mayra/Mobile_Games.pdf. You can also access the regularly updated online version, and sample some of its contents free through this link.

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