Trip to Utrecht

Utrecht trip

This week I visited the Netherlands to discuss possible collaborations in game studies, by the kind invitation of Joost Raessens, Sybille Lammes, René Glas, and the University of Utrecht. The buildings of the university create a nice mix of old and new, and there are some photos you can have a look at my Flickr photo stream:

Working with iPad & Zagg

iPad & ZaggI made the bold leap and made a half-week business trip to the Netherlands without my laptop, assisted only by iPad 2, Logitech Zagg keyboard case and a mobile phone.

It is hard not to like a Zagg case. With a little practice you will have a user experience that is close to a PC, with only a fraction of the bulk. The physical keyboard really makes a difference. iPad with the virtual keyboard is clearly a consumption oriented device, whereas the proper keyboard sets you free to handle most of those things that our working life largely relates to. In addition, the lightness and versatility of iPad is mostly preserved (be warned, it does get somewhat heavier though), and the use is still much more spontaneous than with a full PC. But you cannot carry this thing in your pocket — in that area iPad cannot compete with your mobile phone.

For a business user the main downsides of iPad+Zagg combo are mostly related to the limitations of Apple’s iOS. The file management is painful; files that you have handled reside in the internal memory allocated to each individual program, and it is mostly impossible to save directly from an iOS app to the file hierarchy that your other computers use. In some cases you need to resort into emailing the edited document back to yourself as an attachment, which is ridiculous. Luckily, there are workarounds like subscribing to Dropbox service — there are several nice text editors, for example, that can be linked to your Dropbox account so that you can sync your iPad productions into a place in the cloud. Apple provides their own iCloud, of course, but Dropbox leads the field at the moment at least.

The keyboard feel of Zagg/Logitech is not exactly the best PC keyboard experience I have had, but it is solid and good enough for myself at least. There are really useful additions like arrow keys (hooray! the thing I have missed most from the iOS virtual keyboard), volume keys, cut-copy-paste keys, plus dedicated keys for getting to the iOS home screen, for locking the screen, and for changing between international keyboard layouts/languages, which is also very handy. Also when consuming media, like while reading or watching a movie during a flight, having a stand for iPad is of course a useful thing.

The only half-serious usability issue I have had with this thing so far is related to the locking mechanism of Zagg case: there is no such thing. You are supposed to squeeze the iPad between the rubber cushions inside the aluminium case so that it locks into place. This is not so easy. You need to use a bit of downwards force, have the iPad in precisely right angle, secure the other edge of iPad to its place with your other hand while you press the other edge to its proper position with another one. Additionally, if the case slips off, it will automatically unlock the iPad screen. Apparently there is the same magnetic auto-unlock feature in play as with Apple’s official “smart cover”. I wish Zagg/Logitech engineers would had come up with less tricky closing mechanism. But the benefits of the keyboard case are so obvious that it encourages you to work over the learning threshold.

Apart from the lightness and compact form factor, the battery durability is probably among the best features of having iPad & Zagg as your main ‘laptop’: you can keep typing notes and surfing for materials for a full day meeting, come back to hotel in the evening, continue working, and find out that your battery is still at 64 %, just like I just found out today.

Verdict: Zagg/Logitech keyboard case for iPad 2 is a pricy, but well constructed accessory that really changes iPad into real business tool, if that is what you need.

Game and Internet Studies, University of Tampere

Interested in doing your masters degree about Internet or games in Tampere? Our degree program is open for the international applicants for the first time. You can read more from here:

CFP: User-Generated Culture

I will be presenting a keynote in an interesting conference in May, spreading here word about the call for papers:


You, Me, User – Conference on User-Generated Culture
Friday 25, May – Saturday 26, May 2012 in Helsinki.

From social media to video games and from online fan production to machinima the phenomenon of user-generated culture has secured its position in the mainstream during the last few years. This shift has resulted from the blurring boundaries between media production and consumption as well as between professional and amateur authorship. The phenomenon is claimed to be characterized by collaboration, accessibility and democratic potential. During the You, Me, User Conference we approach the user-generated culture, or in other words, multiple situations where culture becomes modified, produced and distributed through everyday practices, social and new media.

The Finnish Society for Cinema Studies (SETS) invites presentations which explore the questions surrounding user-generated culture. The conference will bring together Finnish and international scholars of a wide range of relevant fields of studies. The conference will offer a chance to focus on a new and active field of study and is open to presentations from a wide spectrum.

Keynote speeches are delivered by David Buckingham and Frans Mäyrä.

Professor David Buckingham (Loughborough University) is a media education researcher.  He is especially interested in children’s and young people’s interactions with electronic media, consumer culture and civic participation. His most recent book is The Material Child: Growing Up in Consumer Culture (2011).

Professor Frans Mäyrä (University of Tampere) has focused on media culture, digital media and games. He leads an interdisciplinary research group on games study where game culture, players, their activities and gameplay experiences are approached. Mäyrä has published Introduction to Game Studies: Games in Culture (2008), for example.

We seek paper proposals from various fields, such as film, television, games, internet, music, art, literature etc. It is our intention to organize the symposium around questions, such as:
•       What is user-generated culture and how to conceptualize it?
•        Changes in the distribution channels of audiovisual media due to user-generated culture
•        Changes in the consumption of audiovisual media due to user-generated culture
•       Fan as an author?
•       How does user-generated culture blur the boundaries of production and consumption?
•       Politically, socially or culturally significant forms of user-generated culture.
•       Global and local implications of user-generated culture.
•       Does user-generated culture produce new forms of community?
•       Problems of control and copyright in user-generated culture.
•       Does user-generated culture produce new forms of community?

What are the problematic dimensions of user-generated culture (censorship, legal issues etc.)

Proposals including an abstract (max 300 words) and a short CV should be submitted to Conference Secretary Maija Uusitalo by email: amkuus@utu.fiby 19.2.2012 at latest. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 1.3.2012.

Organizers:  Finnish Society of Film Research in concert with National Audivisual Archive, Media Studies (University of Turku), Cinema and Television Studies (University of Helsinki), Aalto University, School of Communication, Media and Theatre (University of Tampere) and Koulukino.

More information:

Play2Work in RYM

Another new project that we have started working on even before Christmas is RYM/Future Learning Environments, where our Gamelab team is joining forces with indoors building experts and educational researchers to look into the future of playful collaboration particularly in the lives of students and researchers in our own campus environment, but also aiming for more generalizable findings. More:

New possibilities for print media and packaging – combining print with digital

I was a co-applicant in a new COST initiative “New possibilities for print media and packaging – combining print with digital”, coordinated by Anu Seisto/VTT, and the proposal was accepted and is now starting. I am looking forward to networking and organising interesting activities around the increasing hybridization of games and playful media.

The goal of this Action is to promote discussion on the benefits that may be achieved from novel combinations of print and digital. It will also be used to enhance innovations that will make use of the benefits of both print and electronic media as well as innovations where print and electronic media are combined. Several examples exist where successful combinations have been achieved e.g. through the use of image recognition, augmented reality or printed electronics to bring interactivity into fiber based products. To give the forest industry a competitive edge this Action will focus on new innovations by combining knowledge of the end users with most recent technological achievements. New models of ongoing change in social interaction and in the cultural products of paper and electronic media will be elaborated and proposed. The results will promote critical and theoretical discussion on the changing meanings of contemporary media culture. The Action will explore new business opportunities for the fiber based products and the value chains of print media and packaging through novel, innovative uses. It will also serve as a channel for communication between industry and academia, thus contributing to the development of new commercial applications.


SF tutkijatapaaminen / researcher meeting 2012

Here is the CFP for this year’s science fiction and fantasy researcher meeting at Finncon (below in English):

Tampereella torstaina 19.7. & perjantaina 20.7. 2012

Finnconin yhteydessä järjestettävän kolmannentoista scifi- ja fantasiatutkijoiden tapaamisen teemana on muukalaisuus. Muukalaisuutta voidaan käsitellä spekulatiivisessa fiktiossa koomisesti tai kauhukuvitelmana, mutta myös analyyttisesti. Kummeksutun hahmon vieraudessa kiteytyy usein teoksen tematiikka. Tutkijatapaamiseen toivomme pohdintoja esimerkiksi siitä, millaisia ovat etniset konfliktit fantasiassa tai millaista vertauskuvallisuutta kätkeytyy tieteisfiktion alieneihin.

Tutkimuksen kohteena voivat olla kirjat, elokuvat, tv-sarjat tai muut scifiksi tai fantasiaksi laskettavat kulttuurituotteet. Toivomme saavamme tutkijatapaamiseen papereita teemaan sopivista tutkimuksista, olipa tavoitteena essee, seminaarityö tai väitöskirja. Tutkijatapaamisen erityisvieraiksi toivotaan gradu-vaiheessa olevia opiskelijoita, mutta kutsu on suunnattu tänä vuonna myös Pohjoismaisin ja Baltiaan. Paperit voivat olla joko suomeksi tai englanniksi.

Tutkijatapaamisen tavoitteena on edistää monitieteistä tieteiskirjallisuuden ja fantasian tutkimusta sekä suomalaisen tutkijaverkoston kansainvälistymistä. Työskentelyä ohjaavat tutkija Irma Hirsjärvi (JY), prof. Liisa Rantalaiho (TaY), prof. Frans Mäyrä (TaY), tutkija Sofia Sjö (Abo), tutkija Merja Leppälahti (TuY), sekä tutkija Paula Arvas (HY).

Lähetä 500 sanan abstrakti aiheestasi 27.4.2012 (huom! korjattu päivä) mennessä Word- tai RTF-tiedostona osoitteeseen csmaso [at] Väitöskirjaan tai sitä seuraavaan tutkimukseen liittyvien papereiden toivomme olevan englanniksi. Lähetämme tiedon hyväksymisestä ja jatko-ohjeet 21.5. mennessä. Itse seminaariin toivomme 4-8 sivun paperia kultakin. Mikäli osanottajien määrä antaa myöten, käsitellään papereita myös teeman ulkopuolelta. Huom! PORTTI-lehti on tarjonnut joillekin papereille mahdollisuuden tulla julkaistuiksi artikkeliksi muokattuina (

FINFAR – Finnish Network of Fantasy Research ja Finncon (
Koordinaattori: Markku Soikkeli (csmaso [at]

Tampere, 19th and 20th July, 2012

The 13th Seminar of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research in Finland will take place in Tampere in connection with Finncon 2012, and for this year’s seminar we wish to invite papers on the general theme of the alien. In speculative fiction the alien can be anything from a comic element to a vision of horror, but it can also be approached in an analytical fashion. Often the theme of a particular work will coalesce in how it represents the odd, the alien and the strange. We are looking forward to seeing papers exploring, for example, the representation of ethnic conflicts in fantasy, or the symbolism of alien beings in science fiction.

The research may be based on literature, movies, TV-series and any other cultural product in the wide field of science fiction and fantasy. Various kinds of papers are welcome: essays, academic seminar papers, parts of dissertations etc. The papers may be in either Finnish or English.

The aim of the seminar is to promote Finnish multidisciplinary research on science fiction and fantasy and to enhance the internationalization of the Finnish research network. Teachers of the seminar are researcher Irma Hirsjärvi (Univ. of Jyväskylä), prof. Frans Mäyrä (Univ. of Tampere), prof. Liisa Rantalaiho (Univ. of Tampere), researcher Sofia Sjö (Åbo Akademi), researcher Merja Leppälahti (Univ. of Turku), researcher Paula Arvas (Univ. of Helsinki).

The deadline for an abstract of 500 words is 27.4.2012. It should be sent by e-mail, preferably in Word- or RTF-format to the address csmaso [at] You will receive a message about the acceptance of your paper and further info by 21.5. For the seminar we wish to receive a presentation of 4-8 pages of your research. Dissertation articles or post-graduate research papers should be in English if possible. When the number of participants allows, papers will also be accepted outside the theme.

Organizers: FINFAR – Finnish Network of Fantasy Research and Finncon 2012
Coordinator: Markku Soikkeli (csmaso [at]

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