New research publications

This should have gone out some time ago already, but there have been some delays. But: the Mobile Content Communities (MC2) project has finally got its final report book published. This is probably not yet announced anywhere officially, but I got my copies directly from Marko Turpeinen in the FENIX results seminar, so I know these books exists. Thus, I heartily recommend getting your hands on Mobile Content Communities (Eds. Marko Turpeinen and Kai Kuikkaniemi), HIIT Publications 2007-1 (ISBN 978-951-22-8757-4). It contains some key article publications from our games research lab as well, including:

  • Tero Laukkanen, “Creative Gamers: Examining the Modding Culture and Its Mobile Prospects” (pp. 137-153)
  • Laura Ermi, “Gameplay Experiences and Mobile Contexts” (pp. 156-166)
  • Britta Neitzel: “Fluid Places: On Real, Virtual and Fictive Spaces and Places in Digital Games” (pp. 167-174).

And there are many more interesting articles in there as well that deal with community-centric design issues, user-created augmented reality games, mobile communications and such case studies as Habbo Hotel users, Neverwinter Nights, live action role-playing (larp) and geocaching. This publication is a summary of several years worth of work, build by an international team of 21 people working together — hope it gets its readers even if it is part of an academic publication series rather than product of some major commercial publisher.

Update: this is now available also as a PDF for download:

Winter Assembly & DiGRA Finland meeting

Winter Assembly & DiGRA Finland meeting
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Aki Järvinen, Elina Koivisto, Tony Manninen and Olli Sotamaa are here explaining how they became games researchers. This is part of Winter Assembly, a 1000+ gamer event in Tampere taking place this weekend; Neogames centre and DiGRA Finland co-organise a games researcher meeting with kind support by Assembly organisers. Lots of interesting talks, huge numbers of games sessions and a good example of fruitful cooperation among all sorts of parties.

Test-driving Joost

Moby in Joost

One of the interesting things I have been playing with recently is the new Joost tv: an online, on-demand television style video service. It is rather easy to use, and even my old PC in downstairs almost manages to run it (time to upgrade, yep), but the content is the actual king here, of course. It has some anime, some very B-class science fiction, but the diversity seems to be increasing, so this system actually might have a chance. We’ll see.


Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Location: Stockholm airport. I have written earlier about airports as particular kind of transitional spaces, comparing them to Limbo from Dante’s Inferno, among other things. This has been a busy day, starting with short talk about games and virtual worlds as “mafufactured realities” in a professional seminar in technical documentation (wonder how much the audience really got out of my talk, though?) Then I was commenting on Olli Sotamaa’s PhD thesis chapter in a graduate seminar in Media Culture. After that, busily to the airport, and happy to find that the SAS strike had not affected my connections, I am now on the road to Malmö in Sweden. We are having the kick-off meeting with some Nordic partners about a new games research project, titled Mobile Learning Environments (MLE). The use of games in learning is an interesting field, of course, even if I wonder how long it will take to really have the constructivistic spirit and emphasis on creative problem-solving that games excel in to take over a typical institution of formal learning — not to speak about things like using games to learn about games cultures, games literacy and games design, that they would be most immediatelly suitable for. My main concern currently is that structurally MLE is a typical contemporary response to the demands that this much-touted increased competition and international collaboration is bringing us: a large international and interdisciplinary consortium with a very moderate research grant and ambitious goals that quickly turn into the reality of tiny fragmented resources that are not enough to hire a full-time person (or not even a half-time one, in this case!) — and then there is the real threat that organising inter-partner communication and the administration will end up eating all resources the funding body (NICe) has granted us. Sad. Lets hope we can find ways to join this kind of interesting research extensions of our pervasive gaming work with some other initiatives to pool resources

FENIX seminar on Interactive Computing

FENIX seminar on Interactive Computing
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

This is Wanha Satama, a seaside conference centre in Helsinki where the results seminar of FEXIX takes place today. FENIX was a four-year technology research programme that funded also some important research projects of ours that looked into games and gameplay experiences, among other things. Some of its results are available now; more about those later.

The Future of Finnish Universities

The Future of Finnish Universities
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Today the researchers and professors are gathering to annual seminar and meetings in m/s Viking Mariella (soon sailing to Stockholm — these boat seminars are a local tradition). Sakari Karjalainen (a high official from the Ministry of Education) is in this picture talking about the next 10 years developments in the Finnish universities. There are many challenges, related to globalization, international competition, national demographics (population getting old really quickly now, and immigration staying low) and internal challenges in universities (the part that resists all change, and the lack of shared vision about the direction of change). Also Esko Aho from Sitra spoke about the similar challenges but rather than calling for focus into one huge “national Top University” that would compete with the MIT and Harvard in their own game, he pointed out that even those “tops” are rather small in size. And that the attitude is the most important key factor — and Aho claimed that having more competition is the key towards that “right spirit” of enthusiasm and energy. But I’d rather point out that you need to have something to compete for, and that we need the essential basic resources so that we can actually remain enthusiastic and energetic about our research (working on five research plans and jumping in six project meetings a day, without any time to dedicate to your actual research can really wear you down). Competition can mean many things, and currently the basic financial and organisational structure of academic research and education is going the wrong way! Chancellor Kari Raivio from the University of Helsinki was touting the “top” quality of his own university, but also pointed out that competition needs to be based on quality (read: national comparative evaluations of universities with meters like citation index and number of publications) and that the universities need to specialize into different areas, having more professors in lesser number of fields. Something like this will probably happen in the future, but there needs also be some strategic vision guiding the focusing of resources, taking into consideration also future developments and emerging fields.

Gamers in Society seminar

Gamers in Society seminar
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Olli Sotamaa and T.L. Taylor here at the front row of Gamers in Society — Play in Culture seminar which takes place in Tampere today and tomorrow. Really interesting papers and discussions — one could almost hear the ideas clicking together as the dialog continued. — Edit: another photo, from T.Wright, taken in Café Europe in the post-seminar get-together:

Seminar photo from T.Wright

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