While there have been earlier doctors coming from our Game Research Lab (Aki Järvinen, Olli Sotamaa), Markus Montola who today defends his doctoral dissertation is the first to come from within our own degree program, myself acting as the Kustos. Here is the abstract and link to download the electronic version of the thesis (defense is public and takes place at 12 o’clock in hall B1097):
On the Edge of the Magic Circle: Understanding Pervasive Games and Role-Playing
On the Edge of the Magic Circle studies two threads of contemporary western gaming culture: Role-playing and pervasive games. Recreational role-playing includes forms such as tabletop role-playing games, larps and online role-playing games, while pervasive games range from treasure hunts to alternate reality games. A discussion on pervasive role-playing connects these strands together.
The work has four larger research goals. First, to establish a conceptual framework for understanding role-playing in games. Second, to establish a conceptual framework for understanding pervasive games. Third, to explore the expressive potential of pervasive games through prototypes. And fourth, to establish a theoretical foundation for the study of ephemeral games.
The central outcome of the work is a theory complex that explains and defines role-playing and pervasive gaming, and allows them to be understood in the context of the recent discussion in game studies.
In order to understand these two borderline cases of games, the work establishes a theoretical foundation that highlights gameplay as a social process. This foundation combines the weak social constructionism of John R. Searle with the recent game studies scholarship from authors such as Jesper Juul, Jane McGonigal, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman.
Link to download the thesis: http://acta.uta.fi/haekokoversio.php?id=1000161