Pervasive Media without Borders

Having spent some time travelling to the other side of the world recently, I have come to think about the role of Internet, content and technology a bit differently than before. The key lesson has been how useless the promises of various media and service ecosystems are, if you cannot access them. You might have bought access to a streaming media service that would be really useful for you and your family while you are away from your friends and family, but you cannot use it, since streaming media is just extremely expensive. Or you might go out and buy a DVD or Blu-ray, but you cannot play it on your device, since it is coming from another “Area” than that of the content you just bought. It is no matter if you try using your iTunes content, something that you could buy from Google Play, or from Microsoft – all those shiny devices and smart services are inherently fragile, dependent on whether there is an open Wi-Fi hotspot somewhere (probably with a 50 megabyte/30 minutes download cap), where you could try to make them run for a moment.

Having to admit that living with unlimited Internet broadband in a well-connected Western country definitely frames this issue as a “First World Problem”, but the lack of a global, pervasive Internet backbone is an issue larger than that. As long as our network technologies are based on high-speed access that is restricted to few urban centres, the true usefulness and radically democratizing potential of Internet and connected services remains limited at best. We need much more ambitious endeavours to get the entire planed connected: this is an issue that can be backed up by commercial, political and even ecological reasons. Establishing solid, reliable links between people living in their villages in the South and the North as well as in the East and the West, can promote local empowerment as well as global collaboration and exchange that is qualitative leap over the current situation.

Satellite data is prohibitively expensive today, but if the initiatives in this area would be given a high enough priority, there is no stopping us having a truly networked world where the global “infosphere” of sharing and communication would be available on equal basis, regardless of the geographical location.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all readers of this blog!

Hamilton, Wellington, Auckland

Our visit in New Zealand is soon over; after Christmas we will start packing and then return to the land of snow.

The visit has been an inspiring and memorable experience. Many thanks to Gareth Schott and his colleagues in the department of Screen and Media Studies of the University of Waikato for hosting the visit. Thanks also to the Nokia Visiting Professor grant and the Marsden Fund for making the visit possible.

In addition to Hamilton we have visited several other places in New Zealand, particularly in the North Island. Volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, kiwi birds and kiwi fruits – we have seen it all.

There has been a couple of special visits: I gave a talk about the game research in the Classification Office and we took the opportunity to do sight-seeing in Wellington for a couple of days. Another major trip was to the South Island: we flew to Queenstown via Christchurch, with the aim to do a day-trip and cruise to Milford Sound. Unfortunately the road to Milford was closed and our day-trip cancelled. We spent two days in Queenstown instead. Finally, there was kind invitation to come and see the work of game art and programming students in Media Design School in Auckland. Interesting demonstrations and a lively, interesting city.

There is much to write from all kinds of interesting experiences in New Zealand, but since I am typing this with the small iPhone keyboard, I have to stop now. (Good and affordable Internet connections are not among the strengths of this country.)

Merry Christmas – Meri Kirihimete ki a koe me te whānau!


Call for Papers: Physical and Digital in Games and Play seminar

Call for Papers: Physical and Digital in Games and Play seminar

May 29-31, 2013, University of Tampere, FINLAND

Digital games have had a visible role on the contemporary rise of game cultures and game studies, but there are still under-explored research areas in the relation of digital games to other forms of games and play, including e.g. traditional card and board games, play with physical toys, paper-based puzzles, and physical sport games. The research carried out in such areas holds potential for both interesting comparative work in theoretical and empirical game studies, as well as for serving inspiration for experimental design research into hybrid, digital-analogue or augmented game designs.

‘Physical and Digital in Games and Play’ seminar invites presentations from multiple topics related to the unique characteristics of physical play or digital play, as well as to the interplay of these two. The aim of the seminar is to bring together scholars of games and play from diverse fields and to stimulate dialogue between them.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

• Theoretical analyses of hybrid games, hybrid toys and hybridity in games

• Case-studies of hybrid play products

• Hybrid experiences in physical and digital play

• Toy design and designer toys

• Board game and table top game design

• Sports and exergames

• Game franchising and IP

• Collectibles cultures

• Cosplay

• Augmented reality games

• Live action role-playing

• History of toys

• Avatar/Body/Doll

• Digital copy vs. physical copy

• Game industry vs. toy industry

• Folk games, folk toys and player created hybridity

• 3D Printing and games

• Games and art, playgrounds and museums, toys and readymade

• Physical and digital in gambling

The seminar is the ninth in the annual series of game studies working paper seminars organised by Game Research Lab at University of Tampere. Due to the work-in-progress emphasis, we strongly encourage submitting late breaking results, working papers and/or submissions from graduate students. Early considerations from projects currently in progress are most welcome, as the purpose of the seminar is to have peer-to-peer discussions and thereby provide support in refining and improving research work in this area. Tentative plans have been made on a publication of selected papers.

The papers to be presented will be chosen based on extended abstract review. Full papers are distributed prior the event to all participants, in order to facilitate discussion.

The two-day event consists of themed sessions that aim to introduce current research projects and discuss ongoing work in studies of games industry, innovation and design processes. The seminar will be chaired by Professor Frans Mäyrä (School of Information Sciences, University of Tampere). There will be invited paper commentators who will be announced later.

The seminar will be held in Tampere, Finland and will be free of charge; the number of participants will be restricted.

Important Dates

* Abstract Deadline: February 25, 2013

* Notification of Acceptance: March 11, 2013

* Full Paper deadline: April 22, 2013

* Seminar dates: May 29-31, 2013

Submission Guidelines

The extended abstract submissions should be between 500-1000 words (excluding references). Abstracts should be sent to <physicaldigitalseminar {at}> as plain text only (no attachments). Guidelines for submitting a full seminar paper will be provided with the notification of acceptance.

Our aim is that everyone participating has been able to read materials submitted to the seminar. Therefore, the maximum length for a full paper is set to 6000 words (excluding references). Note also that the presentations held at the seminar should encourage discussion, instead of only repeating the information presented in the papers. Tentatively, every paper will be presented for 10 minutes and discussed for 20 minutes.

Seminar web site:
Event page at Facebook:

Organised by:
University of Tampere / SIS, TRIM / Game Research Lab

The Hobbit

Saw the Hobbit movie today. I have read the book countless times since I was a child, and now I have been reading it to my own children. Thus, this was an interesting evening, to say the least. 

Hopefully I would find time to do a proper analysis of it some time, but a couple of notes:

– It is a bit too slow. It tries to establish characters and show the historical context of things that follow (in LotR), but that is not good for this film as an individual work of art.

– HFR 3D actually worked fine. It is a bit hyper-realistic, but you will get used to it. Seeing New Zealand scenes this way was really beautiful in many places.

– The screenwriters had done rather ok job in finding the philosophical key lines from this text, that is a children’s book after all. The epic and the silly clashed a bit occasionally, though.

As a summary, it is a fine, a bit slowly proceeding work of action fantasy cinema. There were only a couple of truly emotionally moving scenes in the film, but that is more than in several standard representatives of the genre, so I was not disappointed. But similar achievement this in not as the LotR films, but I was not expecting it to be such, neither.

Research Gate

There are these days several services that aim to serve the function of being an “Academic Facebook”: an easy-to-use service with various dynamic, social media functionalities for sharing and following the research work that we are doing. The ones that I have occasionally tried to update include, and – the latter is a new one that seems to grow fast due to its ‘viral’ settings: it both automatically grawls the net and add publications that might be yours, making it a matter of just a couple of clicks to add them to your publications listing. And, they also by default mail all your co-authors asking them to become members, too. While this kind of strategy of aggressive growth might look borderline spammy, I can only hope our official publication registry system at the University of Tampere would make life as easy. (I still have not got around updating my publications and other academic activities from last 6 months, sigh…) Link: my ResearchGate profile:

CFP: Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds conference, 21-22 May, 2013

Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds
Tampere, Finland, May 21st and 22nd 2013

Call for Papers

– abstract deadline January 31st, 2013

Keynote speakers:

Marie-Laure Ryan (author of Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence and Narrative Theory [1991], Narrative as Virtual Reality [2001] and Avatars of Story [2006]; editor of Cyberspace Textuality [1999] and Narrative across Media [2004])

Jarmila Mildorf (author of Storying Domestic Violence [2007]; editor of Magic, Science, Technology, and Literature [2006] and Imaginary Dialogues in English [2011])

The postclassical turn in narratology has led to 1) a new emphasis on minds, both fictional and interpretative, and 2) the theoretical discovery of storyworlds. These ideas come together in cognitive-theoretically informed narratology, which is well on its way to getting to grips with the processes of immersion and readerly orientation within the storyworld, and also with perceptual positioning on the levels of storyworld, narration and the actual reading process. This conference discusses, applies and tests narratological theories of world and mind construction in different media, ranging from literature to digital games, classroom interaction and corporate communication.

The conference calls for papers from any relevant field of study addressing interfaces of minds and worlds, narrative as well as virtual. Bringing together research on different narrative and quasi-narrative media will reveal both the medium-specific and the transmedial dynamics between inner and outer worlds in narrative sense-making. For instance, the narratological notions of fictional mind construction have lately been informed by theories of spatial and temporal situatedness and its effect on the reading process. The situation of game players immersed in a virtual world involves both interesting similarities with as well as differences to more prototypically narrative environments, particularly in its prioritisation of navigation and problem-solving over empathetic identification. Furthermore, the use of shared storyworlds as foundations for transmedial franchises suggests that worlds may, indeed, be translatable.

This conference is inspired by interdisciplinary and transmedial studies of narrative as pursued by, among others, our keynote speakers Jarmila Mildorf and Marie-Laure Ryan. We welcome papers discussing general and theoretical issues, as well as papers focusing on particular texts or cases in any medium. Furthermore, papers may address medium-specificity or disciplinary boundaries as interpretative or methodological challenges. Possible topics include, but are not limited to

  • medial and intermedial construction of minds and worlds in literature and the everyday
  • adapting storyworlds from one medium to another
  • socially distributed minds in everyday conversation, narration and life stories
  • the role of fiction and narration in digital games
  • misreading virtual minds in fiction
  • fictional worlds in picture books and graphic novels
  • virtual worlds and fictional minds as tools for teaching
  • game worlds between real action and imaginary spaces
  • narrative and ludic agency in game playing
  • narrative, material and visual dimensions of organisational sense-making
  • “Theories of Mind” in different media
  • attributing minds and representing worlds in historical narratives
  • exceptional minds and bodies in fiction and the everyday
  • dream narratives as virtual worlds
  • narrative embodiment in illness narratives
  • the function of stories in marketing and brand development

Please send a 250-word abstract to Mari Hatavara (mari.hatavara[at] by January 31st 2013. Be sure to give the title, author(s), affiliation(s), and e-mail address in the same document.

The conference is organised by:
Mari Hatavara, professor of Finnish literature at the University of Tampere School of Language, Translation and Literary Studies
Matti Hyvärinen, professor of Sociology at the University of Tampere School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Frans Mäyrä, professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media at the University of Tampere School of Information Sciences

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