international study of games cultures

I woke up in snowy Espoo today, feeling slightly gnomish. The Finnish Cultural Fund granted support to our new initiative, International Study of Games Cultures in their annual Gala yesterday. This work will start this summer, initially looking at similarities and differences between Finnish, Korean and American games cultures. Cool!

time for science, fiction?

Touch of feather
Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

I took two days of holiday this week, starting tomorrow. This is to do some work, as every day that I am at “work”, will be spent on meetings, seminars, teaching or various administrative tasks, which need to be done, but which I do not consider proper work, in that deeper, more qualitative sense of the word. So, I have to get some holidays to focus on the creative aspect of science and scholarship. Perverse? Maybe, yes.

There will be a session on the relationship between science and science fiction in our university’s science fair “Tieteen iltapäivä ja yö” this year that I will be hosting. We have three professors, from different backgrounds, and from different angles, discussing the role of creativity in their work, and how they perceive fictional speculation from their own position. That should be fun enough — there should be interesting examples and discussions coming up. I just spend some wishful minutes in updating my Wish List to include some novels and short story collections from Neal Asher, Charles Stross, Richard K. Morgan and Dan Simmons that I wish I would have some time to immerse with.

GDC 2006 is also coming up. There will be two tutorial days (seminars) where I will be participating as one of the speakers, but happy to be in a minor role in both of them: The Social Dimensions of Gaming (DiGRA & IGDA co-operation) is coordinated by T.L.Taylor, Bart Simon and friends and will “bring together expert social scientists doing research on game design, play and culture to work with designers in generating useful vocabularies for making sense of the social dimensions of digital games”. There. And then there is the Game Curriculum Workshop, coordinated by Katie Salen and Katherine Isbister, which “brings together some of the best and brightest developers, scholars, and students to take an in-depth look at game curricula — now, and in the future”. Welcome to drop in and participate, if your road takes you either to Tampere campus, or to San Jose this year.

amputated by travel

Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

I am one of those people (an increasing breed) whose work largely consists of maintaining processes that are based on messages, meetings and other collaboration via communication (or waiting/dysfunctionalities of that communication). In many days there is a train-trip to Helsinki (2 x 2 hours), or a flight travel to some foreign destination (anything up to a dozen hours in bus, taxi, airport and aeroplane – and then the same back again). It is an eternal frustration to get the work done with the whatever limited online time I have available. Tampere – Helsinki train trip for example should be optimum working time, particularly when you are equipped with a 3G/GPRS network card, like my laptop. But no: the connection is breaking down, the email programme is all the time jammed, and it is very hard to participate in any of those oh-so-urgent processes. (Why they are urgent, what is happening to all of our time these days…) I try to keep travels to old-fashioned reading of paper documents, but many issues are those oh-so-urgent ones, and if a full day is spent off-line, that will only mean that you need to take care of all those messages in the evening, on your “own time”. Even air travel carriers are now talking about allowing mobile communications; when shall a simple train travel stop meaning becoming an amputee, unable to hear, see or participate? (Make your refs: cyborg subjectivity, posthumanism, prosthetic and/or amputated condition, posthumanism…)

pervasive england

Shadow over England?
Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

Well after midnight yesterday I got back from last week’s IPerG pervasive games workshop in Nottingham. If you take a look at my Flickr photos, you see lots of swan, geese and other wildfowl, that I only afterwards realised are the prime candidates for getting a lethal bird flu these days. Well, the flu seems to be the same old I had even before the trip, or maybe you could mix them together, coming up with new viral combinations, then letting them fight it out in your own body? Oh, just another rather tired game idea…

tracy fullerton at games and storytelling

Tracy Fullerton was kind enough to swap sunny California for one week into arctic Tampere. She presented a lecture on her approach into experimental game design, and oversees a workshop. She is analytical with her concepts, but her real aim is to provoke or stimulate us to conceive games in new ways. A worthy goal.

experience amplifier?

Frost filigrane
Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

Out whole day today, shooting mostly landscape photos in crisp winter sun. Luckily the battery did not run out, temperature was again c. -20C. This image of frost flowers was slightly edited afterwards in Photoshop, and fine-tuning the light levels did make the shape stand out more clearly. On a more philosophical tone, I have been following the discussions of some people on how the desire to photograph, or otherwise document your life and experiences potentially alters the situation and thereby your entire life. On the other hand, you might start seeing everything you do just as a raw material for your productions, but on the other hand it is also possible that you pay more attention to the tiny details of life – your activity might be the amplifier to life experience.

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