Social play in Mindtrek conference

Jaakko Stenros is here presenting our paper titled “The Many Faces of Sociability and Social Play in Games”, which emphasises the social aspect of almost all play experiences, and which is not restricted to multiplay (as implemented inside the game app, or even in the surrounding service). Mindtrek conference pages are at: Other papers from our gamelab team include Nokia co-authored paper on game evaluation methods by Hannu Korhonen, Janne Paavilainen and Hannamari Saarenpää, as well as Markus Montola and Timo Nummenmaa collaborating on paper applying game achievement systems to enhance user experience in photo sharing service, and Annakaisa Kultima presenting paper on casual design values.

iPhone 3G S experiences

iPhone 3G S
iPhone 3G S (photographed with Nokia N95 8GB)

I promised to post my iPhone experiences at some point so here they come, even if in rather short form (realities of busy life these days). The key points are very positive ones: particularly the use of social media and Internet in general was radically transformed when I moved to iPhone. Everything is so much faster, more intuitive and pleasing to use. Listening of music, following video podcasts and Internet radio went up, too. The available applications (games, media, utilities) are fun and mostly moderately priced, but the App Store is also one of the obvious points of criticism. Apple has implemented a controlled environment for the use of iPhone, to a degree that the user sometimes starts to ask, who is really the owner of the phone, the actual owner, Apple, or even the operator that the user is locked with in the deal. It is of course perfectly possible to jailbreak iPhone, but the default situation for the regular user does not change. In this sense Symbian/S60 or Google Android based devices appear parts of much more open ecosystem. The lacking support of existing Internet standards is also obvious in the lack of support for Flash and Java in the iPhone browser. You can watch Youtube videos, since they have a specific iPhone format supported, but not regular Flash videos or animations that the net is full of. Also, and this is my final gripe with iPhone, the camera is below the standards I have gotten used to while being a Nokia N95 user. Images are blurry, too dark and more soft than you would expect from a 3 mega-pixel camera. This is a real pity, since the magnificent user experience and accessibility of all kinds of interesting functionalities would really make iPhone my dream device if camera and these other — relatively minor — issues would be dealt with. Now I continue to live in a two-phone (plus laptop, plus netbook, plus workstation…) configuration. Not everything can be expected from one environment, or manufacturer, I guess. Might be a good thing, even?

Designing our digital worlds

Suomalainen muotoilu 1-3, Weilin+Göös, 2009
Suomalainen muotoilu 1-3, Weilin+Göös, 2009

Another new book — I received yesterday my copy of Suomalainen muotoilu 3 (“Finnish Design 3”), a big illustrated volume, published by Weilin+Göös. My article is an introduction to what research has to say about digital culture and design, with particular emphasis on game and virtual world design. More information is here and here.

Tietoyhteiskunnan uusi vaihe

Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) will publish a book titled Tehokkuudesta jakamiseen – tietoyhteiskunnan uusi vaihe (From Efficiency to Sharing – the New Phase of Information Society) at October 13th — it is an interesting collection of writings, edited by Demos Helsinki, including also some of my views about the developments towards ludic society, or increase of playfulness in different levels of our media, culture and society.

Official iPhone Flickr app not available in Finland?

The title pretty much says it: I have been waiting for a proper Flickr app to appear for iPhone, and now that an official one has been announced to be available, I am of course eagerly trying to install. But it seems that this app is for some reason filtered out of the Finnish iTunes Store; at least I cannot found it anywhere. Anyone out there with more luck?

Finnish Yearbook of Game Studies published

DiGRA Finland and the Creation of Game Studies research project have jointly today published the first Finnish Yearbook of Game Studies (Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja). It provides an overview into the history and present focus areas of games research through multiple research articles, as well as research and book reviews. The yearbook is peer-reviewed and openly available online here:

Going for Thesis theme

Since I really do not have time to tweak all the style options and edit CSS files manually, I decided to pay my way out, and bought a new, professionally designed theme for my blog. Thesis advertises itself as an “search-engine optimized framework” and it is actually pretty cool in terms of how easy it makes to tweak with the look and feel of your WordPress blog. It also adds a load of new functionalities that are only visible to the site admin. Expect more tweaking of this site in the future!

Bored of Verdana

Staring at this blog numerous times per day, I am starting to feel it needs another facelift at some point. But since I do not have the time to start tweaking with the WPress theme frameworks, child themes etc., I just try a minor tweak — changing the typeface and the character spacing a bit towards more spacey and readable (I wish) format. Any comments?

New games research in DiGRA-09, Brunel

This week the bi-annual Digital Games Research Association’s international conference takes place in Brunel, UK (the conference pages are here). Near Uxbridge, outskirts of London, the conference is a rather cosy event, with not exactly similar kind of large crowds that have filled the previous three conferences in Utrecht, Vancouver and Tokyo. This has the double effect of comfortable familiarity on the other hand, and perhaps some lack of impetus on the other. But the quality of research looks fine, and that is the most important single thing, of course. Some more photos in my Flickr account, and you can also search for #digra to see the stream of Twitter updates from the audiences of various ongoing sessions. Really great to be in this kind of conference again (missing my family badly, though.)

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