Cognitive engineering of mixed reality

 

iOS 11: user-adaptable control centre, with application and function shortcuts in the lock screen.
iOS 11: user-adaptable control centre, with application and function shortcuts in the lock screen.

In the 1970s and 1980s the concept ‘cognitive engineering’ was used in the industry labs to describe an approach trying to apply cognitive science lessons to the design and engineering fields. There were people like Donald A. Norman, who wanted to devise systems that are not only easy, or powerful, but most importantly pleasant and even fun to use.

One of the classical challenges of making technology suit humans, is that humans change and evolve, and differ greatly in motivations and abilities, while technological systems tend to stay put. Machines are created in a certain manner, and are mostly locked within the strict walls of material and functional specifications they are based on, and (if correctly manufactured) operate reliably within those parameters. Humans, however, are fallible and changeable, but also capable of learning.

In his 1986 article, Norman uses the example of a novice and experienced sailor, who greatly differ in their abilities to take the information from compass, and translate that into a desirable boat movement (through the use of tiller, and rudder). There have been significant advances in multiple industries in making increasingly clear and simple systems, that are easy to use by almost anyone, and this in turn has translated into increasingly ubiquitous or pervasive application of information and communication technologies in all areas of life. The televisions in our living rooms are computing systems (often equipped with apps of various kinds), our cars are filled with online-connected computers and assistive technologies, and in our pockets we carry powerful terminals into information, entertainment, and into the ebb and flows of social networks.

There is, however, also an alternative interpretation of what ‘cognitive engineering’ could be, in this dawning era of pervasive computing and mixed reality. Rather than only limited to engineering products that attempt to adapt to the innate operations, tendencies and limitations of human cognition and psychology, engineering systems that are actively used by large numbers of people also means designing and affecting the spaces, within which our cognitive and learning processes will then evolve, fit in, and adapt into. Cognitive engineering does not only mean designing and manufacturing certain kinds of machines, but it also translates into an impact that is made into the human element of this dialogical relationship.

Graeme Kirkpatrick (2013) has written about the ‘streamlined self’ of the gamer. There are social theorists who argue that living in a society based on computers and information networks produces new difficulties for people. Social, cultural, technological and economic transitions linked with the life in late modern, capitalist societies involve movements from projects to new projects, and associated necessity for constant re-training. There is necessarily no “connecting theme” in life, or even sense of personal progression. Following Boltanski and Chiapello (2005), Kirkpatrick analyses the subjective condition where life in contradiction – between exigency of adaptation and demand for authenticity – means that the rational course in this kind of systemic reality is to “focus on playing the game well today”. As Kirkpatrick writes, “Playing well means maintaining popularity levels on Facebook, or establishing new connections on LinkedIn, while being no less intensely focused on the details of the project I am currently engaged in. It is permissible to enjoy the work but necessary to appear to be enjoying it and to share this feeling with other involved parties. That is the key to success in the game.” (Kirkpatrick 2013, 25.)

One of the key theoretical trajectories of cognitive science has been focused on what has been called “distributed cognition”: our thinking is not only situated within our individual brains, but it is in complex and important ways also embodied and situated within our environments, and our artefacts, in social, cultural and technological means. Gaming is one example of an activity where people can be witnessed to construct a sense of self and its functional parameters out of resources that they are familiar with, and which they can freely exploit and explore in their everyday lives. Such technologically framed play is also increasingly common in working life, and our schools can similarly be approached as complex, designed and evolving systems that are constituted by institutions, (implicit, as well as explicit) social rules and several layers of historically sedimented technologies.

Beyond all hype of new commercial technologies related to virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technologies of various kinds, lies the fact that we have always already lived in complex substrate of mixed realities: a mixture of ideas, values, myths and concepts of various kinds, that are intermixed and communicated within different physical and immaterial expressive forms and media. Cognitive engineering of mixed reality in this, more comprehensive sense, involves involvement in dialogical cycles of design, analysis and interpretation, where practices of adaptation and adoption of technology are also forming the shapes these technologies are realized within. Within the context of game studies, Kirkpatrick (2013, 27) formulates this as follows: “What we see here, then, is an interplay between the social imaginary of the networked society, with its distinctive limitations, and the development of gaming as a practice partly in response to those limitations. […] Ironically, gaming practices are a key driver for the development of the very situation that produces the need for recuperation.” There are multiple other areas of technology-intertwined lives where similar double bind relationships are currently surfacing: in social use of mobile media, in organisational ICT, in so-called smart homes, and smart traffic design and user culture processes. – A summary? We live in interesting times.

References:
– Boltanski, Luc, ja Eve Chiapello (2005) The New Spirit of Capitalism. London & New York: Verso.
– Kirkpatrick, Graeme (2013) Computer Games and the Social Imaginary. Cambridge: Polity.
– Norman, Donald A. (1986) Cognitive engineering. User Centered System Design31(61).

Paljon pelissä -loppuseminaari 10.10.2017

Lämpimästi tervetuloa projektin Paljon pelissä -loppuseminaariin!

EHYT ry:n aikuisten rahapelihaittoja ehkäisevä Arpa-projekti järjestää projektin tuloksista ja rahapelihaittojen ehkäisyn ajankohtaisista aiheista Paljon pelissä -loppuseminaarin. Tilaisuus järjestetään tiistaina 10.10.2017 klo 12-16 G Livelabissa osoitteessa Yrjönkatu 3, 00120 Helsinki. Tila on esteetön.

Ilmoittaudu mukaan loppuseminaariin 25.9. mennessä täällä: https://my.surveypal.com/paljonpelissa

Ohjelma

12:00 Tervetuloa, Kari Vuorinen, talous- ja hallintojohtaja, EHYT ry

12:15 Rahapelihaittojen ehkäisy Suomessa – mahdollisuudet ja haasteet, Saini Mustalampi, johtava asiantuntija, Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos

12:50 Arpa-projektin tulokset, Tapio Jaakkola, Arpa-projektin projektipäällikkö, EHYT ry

13:20 Kokemuksia rahapelihaittojen ehkäisystä työpaikalla, Milena Kaihari-Virtanen, työsuojeluvaltuutettu, Lempäälä

13:40 Kokemuksia riskirahapelaamisen puheeksiottopilotista

14:00 Kahvitauko

14:30 Onko rahapelihaittojen ehkäisy Suomessa kunnossa? Janne Nikkinen, sosiaalietiikan dosentti, Helsingin yliopisto

14:50 Keskustelupaneeli: Miten aikuisten rahapelihaittoja pitäisi jatkossa ehkäistä?

Pekka Ilmivalta, vastuullisuus- ja henkilöstöjohtaja, Veikkaus Oy

Susanna Raisamo, tutkimuspäällikkö, Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos

Mari Pajula, yksikön päällikkö, Peluuri

Tapio Jaakkola, Arpa-projektin projektipäällikkö, EHYT ry

15:45 Loppupuheenvuoro, Kari Vuorinen, talous- ja hallintojohtaja, EHYT ry

Tilaisuus streamataan EHYT ry:n YouTube-kanavalla ja tilaisuudesta jää kanavalle myös tallenne.

Loppuseminaarin keskusteluihin voi osallistua sosiaalisessa mediassa käyttämällä tunnisteita #arpaprojekti tai #paljonpelissä.

Arpa-projekti tuotti tietoa ja välineitä rahapelaamisen käsittelyyn. Projekti kehitti osaamista rahapelihaittojen tunnnistamisesta, puheeksiottamisesta ja ehkäisemisestä sekä tuki pelaajia oman pelaamisen hallinnassa. Kohderyhmiä olivat aikuiset rahapelaajat sekä ehkäisevää päihdetyötä tekevät ammattilaiset. Projekti toteutettiin vuosina 2015-2017 sosiaali- ja terveysministeriön tukemana Veikkauksen tuotoilla.

Lisätietoja projektista: www.arpaprojekti.fi

Lisätietoja tilaisuudesta saa projektiasiantuntija Salla Karjalaiselta (salla.karjalainen@ehyt.fi tai p. 050 514 7658).

Viestiä saa levittää eteenpäin.

JKL: PLAY ’17 -seminaari 8.9.2017

(Puhumassa ensi viikolla täällä – ilmeisesti muutama paikka on vielä tarjolla, levittäkää sanaa)

KUTSU: PLAY ’17 -seminaari 8.9.2017

Tervetuloa PLAY ’17 -seminaariin perjantaina 8.9.2017! Seminaari, jonka teemana on Pelillisyys ja uudet teknologiat musiikin oppimisessa, päättää Suomalaisella musiikkikampuksella toteutetun PLAY-hankkeen.

Seminaari järjestetään JAMK:in Hannikaissalissa osoitteessa Pitkäkatu 18–22, Jyväskylä. Aloitamme päivän hankkeen tarjoamalla aamupalalla klo 8.30, jonka jälkeen on luvassa varmasti mielenkiintoista seminaariohjelmaa klo 9.00–15.00 (ohjelma viestin liitteenä). Varsinaisen seminaarin jälkeen sinulla on mahdollisuus osallistua musiikkikasvatusteknologian ja oppimispelien työpajaan klo 15.00 alkaen.

Petri Jussilan toimittama PLAY-hankkeen loppujulkaisu, Pelillisyys ja uudet teknologiat musiikin oppimisessa, julkistetaan seminaarin yhteydessä. Ilmoittautumalla seminaariin varmistat, että saat omasi seminaaripäivänä.

Ilmoittauduthan seminaariin 1.9.2017 klo 12.00 mennessä osoitteessa http://bit.ly/GOPLAY17

Tilaisuuteen on vapaa pääsy – tervetuloa!

PLAY-projektitiimin puolesta,

Sami Sallinen

P.S. Seminaarin pääpuhujiksi on kutsuttu seuraavat asiantuntijat:

Andrew Bentley, musiikkiteknologian professori, Taideyliopiston Sibelius-Akatemia
https://www.uniarts.fi/uutishuone/andrew-bentleystä-sibelius-akatemian-ensimmäinen-musiikkiteknologian-professori

Frans Mäyrä, professori (informaatiotutkimus ja interaktiivinen media), Tampereen yliopisto
http://www.unet.fi/

CFP: Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 2018

Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries calls for submissions for its 2018 conference in Helsinki, Finland, 7–9 March 2018.
http://heldig.fi/dhn-2018/

Keynote speakers
Kathryn Eccles, University of Oxford, https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/people/kathryn-eccles/
– Academic Programme Manager for Digital Humanities and Research Fellow at Oxford Internet Institute with interest in the impact of new technologies on Humanities scholarship, and the re-organisation of cultural heritage and higher education in the digital world.

Alan Liu, University of California, Santa Barbara, http://liu.english.ucsb.edu
– Distinguished Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an affiliated faculty member of UCSB’s Media Arts & Technology graduate program.

Frans Mäyrä, University of Tampere, http://www.unet.fi
– Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media (specifically digital culture and game studies)

In 2018, the conference seeks to extend the scope of digital humanities research covered, both into new areas, as well as beyond the Nordic and Baltic countries. In pursuit of this, in addition to the abstracts familiar from humanities traditions, we also adopt a call for publication ready texts as is the tradition in computer science conferences. Therefore, we accept the following types of submissions:
1. Publication ready texts of length appropriate to the topic. Accepted papers will be submitted to the CEUR-WS proceedings series for publication in a citable form.
a. Long paper: 8-12 pages, presented in 20 min plus 10 min for Q&A
b. Short paper: 4-8 pages, presented in 10 min plus 5 min for Q&A
c. Poster/demo: 2-4 pages, presented as an A1 academic poster in a poster session.
2. Abstracts of a maximum of 2000 words. Proposals are expected to indicate a preference between a) long, b) short, or c) poster/demo format for presentation. Approved abstracts will be published in a book of abstracts on the conference website.

Submissions to the conference are now open at ConfTool: https://www.conftool.net/dhn2018/

Important dates
The call for proposals opened on 28 August 2017, and the deadline for submitting proposals is 25 October 2017. Presenters will be notified of acceptance by 8 January 2018. For papers accepted into the citable proceedings, there is an additional deadline of 5 February 2018 for producing a final version of your paper that takes into account the comments made by the reviewers.

This year, the conference welcomes in particular work related to the following themes:

History
While the number of researchers describing themselves as digital historians is increasing, computational approaches to history have rarely captured the attention of those without innate interest in digital humanities. To address this, we particularly invite presentations of historical research whose use of digital methods advances the overall methodological basis of the field.

Cultural Heritage
Libraries, galleries, archives and museums are making vast amounts of cultural heritage openly digitally available. However, tapping into these resources for research requires cultivating co-operation and trust between scholars and heritage institutions, due to the cultural, institutional, legal and technical boundaries crossed. We invite proposals describing such co-operation – examples of great resources for cultural heritage scholarship, of problems solved using such data, as well as e.g. intellectual property rights issues.

Games
Humanities perspectives on games are an established part of the game studies community. Yet their relationship with digital humanities remains undefined. Digitality and games, digital methods and games, games as digital methods, and so on are all areas available for research. We invite proposals that address high-level game concepts like “fun”, “immersion”, “design”, “interactivity”, etc positioned as points of contact with the digital.

Future
We also invite proposals in the broad category of ”Future”. Accepted proposals will still fit in the overall context of the conference and highlight new perspectives to the digital humanities. Submissions may range from applications of data science to humanities research to work on human-machine interaction and ecological digital humanities. We also welcome reflections on the future of the digital humanities, as well as the societal impact of the humanities.

Finally, the overarching theme this year is Open Science. This pragmatic concept emphasises the role of transparent and reproducible research practices, open dissemination of results, and new forms of collaboration, all greatly facilitated by digitalisation. All proposals are invited to reflect on the benefits, challenges, and prospects of open science for their own research.

Call for workshops/panels and tutorials
In addition to individual papers, the conference calls for interested parties to submit proposals for workshops/panels and tutorial sessions to be held preceding the conference. Workshops/panels gather together participants around a particular subtopic, while tutorials present a useful tool or method of interest to the digital humanities community. Either can take the form of either a half or a full day session, and they generally take place the day prior to the conference.

Proposals should include the session format, title, and a short description of its topic (max 2000 words) as well as the contact information of the person/s responsible. Proposals should also include the following: intended audience, approximate number of participants, and any special technical requirements.

Submit your workshop/tutorial at the conference ConfTool: https://www.conftool.net/dhn2018/

Organisers at HELDIG – the Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities at the University of Helsinki, the Faculty of Arts include Mikko Tolonen (conference chair, mikko.tolonen@helsinki.fi), Eetu Mäkelä (programme chair, eetu.makela@helsinki.fi), Viivi Lähteenoja (conference producer, viivi.lahteenoja@helsinki.fi), Maija Paavolainen (communications chair, maija.paavolainen@helsinki.fi), Jouni Tuominen (web chair, jouni.tuominen@helsinki.fi), and Eero Hyvönen (HELDIG director, eero.hyvonen@helsinki.fi).

Special Issue: Reflecting and Evaluating Game Studies – Games & Culture

This is now published:

Games & Culture:
Volume 12, Issue 6, September 2017
Special Issue: Reflecting and Evaluating Game Studies
(http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/gaca/12/6)

Guest Editors: Frans Mäyrä and Olli Sotamaa

Articles

Need for Perspective:
Introducing the Special Issue “Reflecting and Evaluating Game Studies”
by Frans Mäyrä & Olli Sotamaa
(Free Access: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1555412016672780)

The Game Definition Game: A Review
by Jaakko Stenros

The Pyrrhic Victory of Game Studies: Assessing the Past, Present, and Future of Interdisciplinary Game Research
by Sebastian Deterding

How to Present the History of Digital Games: Enthusiast, Emancipatory, Genealogical, and Pathological Approaches
by Jaakko Suominen

What We Know About Games: A Scientometric Approach to Game Studies in the 2000s
by Samuel Coavoux, Manuel Boutet & Vinciane Zabban

What Is It Like to Be a Player? The Qualia Revolution in Game Studies
by Ivan Mosca

Unserious
by Bart Simon

Many thanks to all the authors, reviewers, and the staff of the journal!

LARP: Art not worthy?

worldcon75Worldcon 75 in Helsinki has generally been an excellent event with multiple cultures, diverse forms of art and innumerable communities of fandom coming together. However, what left bit of a bad taste to the mouth was the organizers’ decision yesterday to cancel a LARP (live action role-play), dealing with old people and dementia. The decision is highly controversial, and apparently based on some (non-Nordic) participants strongly communicating their upset at such a sensitive topic has been even allowed to be submitted in the form of a “game”, into the con program. On the other hand, same people would apparently be completely fine with Altzheimer and similar conditions being handled in form of a novel, for example.

There will be no doubt multiple reactions coming in to this from experts of this field in the future. My short comment: this is an unfortunate case of censorship, based on cultural perception of play and games as inherently trivializing or “fun-based” form of low culture. It seems that for some people, there still are strict cultural hierarchies even within the popular culture, with games at the very bottom – and that handling something sensitive with the form of role-play, for example, can be an insult. Such position completely ignores the work that has been done for decades in Nordic LARP and in digital indie “art games” (and also within the academic traditions of game studies) to expand the range of games and play for cultural expression, and to remove expectation or stigma of automatic trivialism from the interactive forms of art and culture. The organisers have obviously been pressurised by some vocal individuals, but the outcome in this case was a failure to stand up, explain the value and potential of role-playing games, and Nordic LARP in particular to an international audience, and make a difference. A sad day.

Link: Worldcon 75 cancellation statement (currently in updated and revised form) in Facebook regarding “The Old Home” [edit: should be “A Home for the Old”] LARP: https://www.facebook.com/worldcon75/posts/1464369666972369?sw_fnr_id=619255795&fnr_t=0.

(There has been multiple exchanges regarding this matter in Twitter, for example, but not linking them here.)

(Edit: the documentation for the said LARP is available for download here: http://bit.ly/2fyxQh7).

(Edit2: LARP scholars and experts Jaakko Stenros and Markus Montola have published a thorough account of this incident herehttps://jaakkostenros.wordpress.com/2017/08/13/how-worldcon-banned-a-larp/.)

(Edit3: Wordcon organisers have now published a more thorough explanation and reasons for their decision herehttp://www.worldcon.fi/news/statement-cancellation-larp-home-old/.)

Testing Steam Link

Steam Link
Steam Link, unboxing.

It is my summer vacation period now, and during a rainy week, it would be nice to play also some PC games – either alone, or together as a social experience, if a game from a suitable genre is available. To bring the PC experience from my “media cave” to the living room, I installed Steam Link, a small device that is designed for remotely streaming and accessing the PC games, running on the gaming desktop PC (which is equipped with a powerful graphics card) in the basement, from the living room large-screen tv.

The idea is pretty plug-and-play style simple, but it actually took over an hour of troubleshooting to get the system setup right. Initially, there was no image in the television screen, apart from the blue Link boot symbol, and the trick that finally solved this issue was to change the HDMI cable to another one – the Link box appears to be a bit picky on those. Then, my “Xbox One Controller with the Wireless Adapter” did not work with Steam Link (it works fine with the PC), but my old PS3 Dualshock controllers appeared to work just fine, both in wired and wireless modes. Finally, there was an issue with “Dota 2”, the game I first tested, where the game got stuck with every dialog box, and did not accept any input from either the gamepad or from mouse/keyboard (one can connect also Bluetooth devices to the Steam Link) – I had to run downstairs to access the game locally from the PC to get over it (I wonder what was behind that one). Oh yes, and finally it appeared that there was no game sound in the living room television, from any game running in the Steam Link. This could also be fixed by going downstairs, and changing manually the Windows 10 playback device to be the living room television set – the Steam software appears to get confused, and automatic configuration will end up muting and/or playing sounds via wrong audio devices.

Steam Store, running via Steam Link.
Steam Store, running via Steam Link.

But after those ones, we got some nice, all-family gameplay action with the “Jones on Fire” PC version. And there are now several more games downloading from the Steam store, so developing and selling – rather cheaply – the Steam Link box appears to be a smart move from Valve. Now, if only the multiple components and services in a typical h0me network would play together a bit more reliably, and the support for wireless game controllers (such as the wireless Xbox One version) would be better, this would be an excellent setup.