DiGRA-FDG 2016 Proceedings

The Full paper and Abstract Proceedings of the 1st International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG are now available online in the DiGRA digital library:

Abstract proceedings:

http://www.digra.org/digital-library/forums/13-abstracts-digra-fdg2106/

The full paper proceedings are available here:

http://www.digra.org/digital-library/forums/13-digra-fdg2106/

Fafnir 4/2016 CFP

(Please spread the word) Call for Papers:

FAFNIR 4/2016: SPECULATIVE FICTION IN COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research invites authors to submit papers for the upcoming edition 4/2016. Theme for the edition is “Speculative Fiction in Comics and Graphic Novels”. We invite papers that focus on speculative fiction in, for example, genres of comics, graphic novels and graphic narratives, cartoons, animations, anime or manga.

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is a peer-reviewed academic journal which is published in electronic format four times a year. Fafnir is published by FINFAR Society (The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research) from 2013 onwards.Fafnir publishes various texts ranging from peer-reviewed research articles to short overviews and book reviews in the field of science fiction and fantasy research.

The submissions for the edition 4/2016 must be original work, and written in English, Finnish or in Scandinavian languages. Manuscripts of research articles should be between 20,000 and 40,000 characters in length. The journal uses the most recent edition of the MLA Style Manual. The manuscripts of research articles will be peer-reviewed.

Please note that as Fafnir is designed to be of interest to readers with varying backgrounds, essays and other texts should beas accessibly written as possible. Also, if you are writing in English, and English is not your first language, please have your article reviewed or edited by an English language editor.

In addition to research articles, Fafnir constantly welcomes text proposals such as essays, interviews, overviews and book reviews on any subject suited for the journal.

The deadline for research articles is August 15, 2016and for other submissions November 15, 2016.

Please send your electronic submission (saved as RTF-file) to the following address: submissions(at)finfar.org. For further information, please contact the editors: jyrki.korpua(at)oulu.fi, hanna.roine(at)uta.fi and aino-kaisa.koistinen(at)jyu.fi.

More detailed information about Fafnir and the submission guidelines is available at our webpage journal.finfar.org.

This edition is scheduled for December 2016.

Best regards,
Aino-Kaisa Koistinen, Jyrki Korpua and Hanna-Riikka Roine
Editors, Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research

Sanna Malinen’s PhD defence

2016-01-08 14.31.49Today researcher Sanna Malinen defended her PhD thesis in the University of Tampere. The opponent in the public defence was professor Pekka Räsänen from the University of Turku, professor Frans Mäyrä acted as the custos. The abstract and download link to the full, PDF version of the dissertation, titled Sociability and Sense of Community among Users of Online Services, are below:

The dissertation explores a current and popular phenomenon referred to as ‘online communities’ from both theoretical and empirical viewpoints. Online communities are discussed in the context of a wider development in social life from small geography-based units to large and dispersed social networks, which can be mediated by technology. In this study, online communities are understood as fluid objects that are created and maintained through users’ social interactions and actual social practices. Therefore, they are not stable and fixed groups but, instead, a social process that transforms over time.
The empirical portion of this work illustrates the multifaceted nature of the research subject and consists of five case studies exploring the usage of software intended for various purposes: an online photo-sharing service, an online exercise diary, online auctions, and social-media applications for smartphones. In addition, there is a research article consisting of a literature review that synthesise research into online community participation conducted over the past 12 years. The findings from the empirical sub-studies show that community-evocative feelings and behaviors can emerge within various online settings, including dispersed networks and content-oriented sites focusing on artefacts that users produce, such as photographs. However, users can have very different orientations with respect to their interest in social networking and community-building within the context of the same site. The literature review shows that the majority of previous research on user participation has focused on the quantity of their activity. Instead of dividing users into active and passive on the basis of the amount of content they produce, research should acknowledge that there is greater variety in the ways of participating and belonging to an online community.
The dissertation vividly illustrates that online communities are a constantly changing and developing phenomenon. In recent years, the most notable technological changes have been the surge in popularity of large-scale social network sites and increased usage of the Internet via mobile devices. In order for the concept of community to be applied in description of online sociability within current technological settings, the meaning of this term and the criteria for community needs to be rethought.

The full dissertation: http://tampub.uta.fi/handle/10024/98292.

Year in review – my 2015 in game studies

The year 2015 was a busy year, and hard to summarise as it feels like there never really was any time to stop and reflect; thus I welcome this short review note as such opportunity. Much of my time this year was spent on administrative things, related processes, projects, work contracts and plans of restructuring at the multiple levels of the Finnish university system, Tampere 3 university fusion, internal University of Tampere structures, the School of Information Sciences, our degree programmes and the IGS master’s degree programme, TRIM as the research centre and our Game Research Lab, and its individual research projects and other work.

In terms of published research, it was delightful to follow how many interesting book projects were finished and came out during 2015 (many of these are already out and available, even if their official publication year is 2016). Particularly the Routledge Advances in Game Studies series was in high gear, as several important research volumes were published there; my research articles were included in The Dark Side of Game Play, The Video Game Debate and Video Game Policy books. (There were other important books in the series, too, including Rachel Kowert’s Video Games and Social Competence, and Ashley ML Brown’s Sexuality in Role-Playing Games.) For more, see: https://www.routledge.com/series/RAIGS My own work included analysing the subversive uses of chidren’s games, exploring the gaming communities, and (together with Gareth Schott) re-conceptualizing game violence.

In other published work, I was proud to be part of the editorial board of Finnish Yearbook of Game Studies (Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja; with the new editor-in-chief Raine Koskimaa), have in-depth analyses of our game researcher survey study come out in esteemed Journal of Communication (Thorsten Quandt, Jan Van Looy as the main authors in this article). I also published a historically oriented overview of Finnish games and game culture in the Video Games Around the World volume, edited by the amazingly productive Mark Wolf for the MIT Press. I also wrote an article exploring the character and development of mobile games that was published in the International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication & Society (Wiley-Blackwell). Last but not least, the long-waited book, Playful Identities: The Ludification of Digital Media Cultures came out from Amsterdam University Press. My piece there deals with the culture and identity of casual online play.

Our research team’s work in 2015 again covered a large part of the games, player experiences, design research and game cultures landscapes. Our particular emphasis is on the emerging and transforming aspects of these, multiple and interconnected phenomena and research topics. In 2015 we wrapped up the research projects Hybridex – The User Experience in the Future Playful Hybrid Services and Free2Play – Best Practices for Free-to-Play Game Services. Some of the research publications, including the full final reports from these projects are still coming out, but you can find some of this work at: https://free2playproject.wordpress.com/publications/ and https://hybridex.wordpress.com/ . Our work in the emerging, and newly re-configured borderlines of physical and digital dimensions in play also included also practical design experiments in the TSR funded OASIS research that studied intermixing of work and play, as well as with the playful MurMur chairs (originating from the Hybridex project). Featured in local as well as in international media, such practical implementations of fundamental research particularly appear to attract the attention of wider audiences. The high-quality research on gamification was also getting wider notice this year, including many publications that were coming out from Koukku, Neuroeconomics of Gaming and Free2Play research projects on this theme. Many thanks to all members of our research team, from these, as well as other research projects.

Much of such research that includes direct applications and links with games industry and other end user or interest groups were funded by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, as well as by various industry partners. Many thanks to all our collaborating partners, and Tekes in particular for their interest and belief in the significance of games and games related research. The Skene games programme ended in 2015, but everyone very much hopes that the huge funding cuts to Tekes, Academy of Finland and directly to the basic funding of Finnish universities does not stop work in themes that are important for the advancement of fundamental knowledge, cultural richness, and capacity for innovation – be those related to arts, technology, humanities, social sciences or e.g. human well-being (studies of games, play, gamification and playfulness relate and touch upon all those research areas).

Our work continues in active mode also in 2016, thanks to two new Tekes research projects (Hybrid Social Play; STREAM/eSports), the Academy of Finland funded Ludification of Culture and Society project, and other ongoing work that is based on individual research grants that members of our research teams have won, as well as other continuing research projects. There are many important themes that are logical continuation of the earlier work we have done (and I have probably forgot to mention many important achievements above), but there are also new innovations and expansions into new areas that are going on. Directing my time and energy into new research on e.g. hybrid play applications while simultaneously participating in other ongoing work will probably mean that in 2016 there will not be as many publications coming out from myself, but that is part of the natural rhythm, ebb and flow of academic life. It is also important that the new tenure-track associate professor in game culture studies position, announded in summer 2015, will be filled hopefully in early 2016. We are also joining forces among the Finnish game scholars to have more supportive structures and collaborative initiatives to start in 2016.

Again: many thanks for everyone in our team, project collaborators and international friends who have made 2015 such a successful and productive year – wishing you all the best, and hoping to make 2016 also a great year together!

Edit: Oh yes – Jaakko Stenros defending his PhD thesis should of course be mentioned here; every doctoral dissertation from our research team is a major milestone!

Video Game Policy: new book

Video Game Policy (book cover).
Video Game Policy.

Most recent book to come out in the Routledge Advances in Games Studies series that I have contributed into: Video Game Policy: Production, Distribution, and Consumption (edited by Steven Conway & Jennifer deWinter) is now available for pre-order. Here is the table of contents, including our co-authored chapter on re-conceptualizing what “video game violence” is, and means, with Gareth Schott:

Introduction – Steven Conway & Jennifer deWinter

Section I: Intellectual Property, Privacy, and Copyright

1.Laws of the Game: Intellectual Property in the Video Game Industry – Mark Methenitis

2.Digital Locks, Labor, and Play in Canada’s Copyright Policy: Filtering Power through Configurations of Game Development – Owen Livermore

3.The Princess Doesn’t Leave the Castle: How Nintendo’s WiiWare Imprisons Indie Game Design – Theo Plothe

4.Policies, Terms of Service, and Social Networking Games – Stephanie Vie

Section II: Rating Systems and Cultural Politics

5.E(SRB) Is for Everyone: Game Ratings and the Practice of Content Evaluation – Judd Ethan Ruggill and Ken S. McAllister

6. Games for Grown-Ups?: An Historical Account of the Australian Classification System – Steven Conway and Laura M. Crawford

7. Rockstar versus Australia – Mark Finn

8. Play Britannia: The Development of U.K. Video Game Policy – Ren Reynolds

Section III: Violence in Video Games

9. Re-conceptualizing Game Violence: Who Is Being Protected and from What? – Gareth Schott and Frans Mäyrä

10. Playing Around with Causes of Violent Crime: Violent Video Games as a Diversion from the Policy Challenges Involved in Understanding and Reducing Violent Crime – James D. Ivory and Adrienne Holz Ivory

11. Banning Violent Video Games in Switzerland: A Public Problem Going Unnoticed – Michael Perret

12. Toxic Gamer Culture, Corporate Regulation, and Standards of Behavior among Players of Online Games – Thorsten Busch, Kelly Boudreau, and Mia Consalvo

Section IV: Politics and Regulations

13.The Right to Play in the Digital Era – Tom Apperley

14. Against the Arcade: Video Gaming Regulation and the Legacy of Pinball – Carly A. Kocurek

15. Curt Schilling’s Gold Coins: Lessons for Creative Industry Policy in Light of the 38 Studios Collapse – Randy Nichols

16.The Ban on Gaming Consoles in China: Protecting National Culture, Morals, and Industry within an International Regulatory Framework – Bjarke Liboriussen, Andrew White, and Dan Wang

17. Regulating Rape: The Case of RapeLay, Domestic Markets, International Outrage, and Cultural Imperialism – Jennifer deWinter

Afterword – Ashley S. Lipson

The publisher’s web pages with ordering information can be found at: https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138812420.

The Video Game Debate, new book available for (pre)order

Video Game Debate (book cover)
The Video Game Debate.

New book available for preorder: The Video Game Debate: Unravelling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Video Games (eds. Rachel Kowert & Thorsten Quandt; publisher: Routledge). Table of contents for this highly interesting, multidisciplinary volume is below:

1. A Brief History of Video Games – James D. Ivory

2. The Rise (and Refinement) of Moral Panic – Nicholas D. Bowman

3. Are Electronic Games Health Hazards or Health Promoters? – Cheryl K. Olson

4. The Influence of Digital Games on Aggression and Violent Crime – Mark Coulson and Christopher J. Ferguson

5. Gaming Addiction and Internet Gaming Disorder – Mark D. Griffiths

6. Social outcomes: Online game play, social currency, and social ability – Rachel Kowert

7. Debating How to Learn From Video Games – John L. Sherry

8. Video Games and Cognitive Performance – Gillian Dale and C. Shawn Green

9. Exploring Gaming Communities – Frans Mäyrä

10. No black and white in video game land! Why we need to move beyond simple explanations in the video game debate – Thorsten Quandt and Rachel Kowert

The publisher’s pages for the book are at: http://www.tandf.net/books/details/9781138831636/

There is also an Amazon.com page for pre-ordering: http://www.amazon.com/The-Video-Game-Debate-Psychological/dp/1138831638 .

Also, the author’s version of my chapter that discusses the study of “gaming communities” is available from here: http://people.uta.fi/~frans.mayra/Gaming_Communities.pdf.

The Dark Side of Game Play, book out

Dark Side of Game Play book cover.
Dark Side of Game Play book.

Finally: the very important “Dark Play” volume that has long been in the making is finally out! Titled The Dark Side of Game Play: Controversial Issues in Playful Environments (Routledge 2015), the work is edited by the excellent team of Torill Elvira Mortensen, Jonas Linderoth and Ashley ML Brown. It includes 15 chapters expanding our understanding of what ‘play’ is and what it means, including my text about “dark play of children”, including the sometimes perhaps subversive uses for LEGO pieces and video games they often come up with (a draft version of my chapter is here). Here is the table of contents:

Part I: Introduction

1. Dark Play: The Aesthetics of Controversial Playfulness
Torill Elvira Mortensen and Jonas Linderoth

Part II: Discourses of Dark Play

2. Analyzing Game Controversies: A Historical Approach to Moral Panics and Digital Games
Faltin Karlsen

3. Of Heroes and Henchmen: The Conventions of Killing Generic Expendables in Digital Games
René Glas

4. Don’t Forget to Die: A Software Update is Available for the Death Drive
Emily Flynn-Jones

Part III: Dark Play or Darkly Played?

5. Killing Digital Children: Design, Discourse and Player Agency
Björn Sjöblom

6. Little Evils: Subversive Uses of Children’s Games
Frans Mäyrä

7. Darkly Playing Others
Miguel Sicart

Part IV: Dark Play and Situated Meaning

8. Three Defences for the Fourteen-Inch Barbed Penis: Darkly Playing with Morals, Ethics and Sexual Violence
Ashley ML Brown

9. Exploring the Limits of Play: A Case Study of Representations of Nazism in Games
Adam Chapman and Jonas Linderoth

10. Keeping the Balance: Morals at the Dark Side
Torill Elvira Mortensen

11. Fabricated Innocence: On How People Can be Lured into Feel Bad Games
Staffan Björk

Part V: Designing for Dark Play

12. Massively Multiplayer Dark Play; Treacherous Play in EVE Online
Marcus Carter

13. Dark Play in Dishonored
Kristine Jørgensen

14. Sonic Descents: Musical Dark Play in Survival and Psychological Horror
Isabella van Elferen

15. Boosting, Glitching and Modding Call of Duty: Assertive Dark Play Manifestations, Communities, Pleasures and Organic Resilience
Alan Meades

Link to publisher’s information page about the book: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138827288/.