The 3rd ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play
Twitter: #chiplay
Austin, Texas
October 16 – 19, 2016

CHI PLAY is an international and interdisciplinary conference (by ACM SIGCHI) for researchers and professionals across all areas of play, games and human-computer interaction (HCI). We call this area “player-computer interaction.” The goal of the conference is to highlight and foster discussion of current high quality research in games and HCI as foundations for the future of digital play. To this end, the conference will feature streams that blend academic research and games with research papers, interactive demos, and industry case studies. CHI PLAY grew out of the increasing work around games and play emerging from the ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) as well as smaller conferences such as Fun and Games and Gamification. CHI PLAY is sponsored by the ACM Special Interest Group for Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI).

Submission Deadlines:

– April 18, 2016: Full papers
– May 27, 2016: Workshop and course proposals, Student game competition
– July 15, 2016: Doctoral consortium, industry case studies, and works-in-progress

As a SIGCHI-sponsored conference, CHI PLAY will consider submissions related to games and play. We encourage submissions on novel and innovative game interactions and mechanics and acknowledge that contributions on systems research may involve less extensive evaluation than more traditional research papers. We welcome submissions from all topics in interactive game research that are relevant to player-computer interaction, including but not limited to the following:

  • Game Interaction
  • Novel Game Control Novel Implementation Techniques that Affect Player Experience
  • Evaluation of Feedback and Display Technologies for Games
  • Gamification
  • Neurogaming
  • Persuasive Games
  • Games for Health, Learning and Change
  • Exertion Games
  • Player Experience
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality Games
  • Games User Research
  • Game Evaluation Methods
  • Psychology of Players and Games
  • Player Typologies
  • Accessible and Inclusive Game Design
  • Novel Game Mechanics Impacting Player Experience
  • Casual Game Design Studies
  • Social Game Experiences
  • Serious Games
  • Alternate Reality Games
  • Tools for Game Creation
  • Developer Experiences and Studies of Developers
  • Industry Case Studies

Although we are interested in papers on the effects of various technologies, software, or algorithms on player or developer experience, technical contributions without clear indications of the impact on players or developers are not within the scope of CHI PLAY. – See more at:


Please spread the word:

CFP DiGRA/FDG 2016 – 1st Joint International Conference of DiGRA and FDG

For the first time, the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) and the Foundation of Digital Games (FDG) will partner in an unprecedented gathering of games researchers. We invite researchers and educators within game research, broadly construed, to submit their work.

For more information, please visit the conference’s website:


DiGRA/FDG aims at being a venue for game research from all research disciplines. In line with this, it accepts and encourages submissions in the following six tracks, on a wide range of subjects including, but not limited to:

  • Game design: Design techniques, practices, methods, post mortems, etc.
  • Game criticism and analysis: Close readings, ontologies and frameworks, historical studies, philosophical explorations, and other humanities-informed approaches
  • Play studies + Interaction and player experience: studies of play, observations and interviews of players, and research based on other methods from the social sciences; game interfaces, player metrics, modeling player experience
  • Artificial intelligence: agents, motion/camera planning, navigation, adaptivity, procedural content generation, dialog, authoring tools, general game playing
  • Game technology: engines, frameworks, graphics, networking, animation
  • Game production: studies of game production processes, studio studies, software studies, platform studies and software engineering

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the DiGRA/FDG conference, authors and reviewers alike will be required to describe their research background and field of study as part of the submission process. The intention for this is to help reviewers be conscious of when they are reviewing work outside their own field as well as making clear the proportions of contributing fields.

Submission categories

DiGRA/FDG 2016 supports two different categories for submitting research:

  • Full Papers (no more than 16 pages)
  • Extended Abstracts with a maximum length of 2-pages

This structure reflects the cross-disciplinary nature and different conference traditions of the conference attendants. A full paper submission is recommended for completed research work, in particular empirical or technical work. The extended abstract format is suitable for discussion topics and ideas. Both full papers and abstracts are subject to a double-blind review process. These two categories are the only ones that will be published in DiGRA’s digital library.

Deadlines full papers and extended abstracts

Submission deadline

  • January 29 2016 (hard deadline)

Acceptance/rejection notification

  • March 21 2016


  • March 25 2016

Notification of final decisions

  • March 31 2016

Camera ready

  • April 29 2016

In addition to this, DiGRA/FDG 2016 accepts submissions for:

  • Events with a maximum length of 2-page abstract
  • Panels with a maximum length of 2-page abstract

These are curated by the local organizers and do not go through an anonymized process.

Deadlines panels and events

Submission deadline

  • January 29 2016 (hard deadline)

Acceptance/rejection notification

  • March 21 2016

Camera ready

  • April 29 2016

Some work does not fit as paper presentations due to its nature or research maturity. For this, DiGRA/FDG 2016 is open to submission to the following categories:

  • Posters with a maximum length of 2-page abstract
  • Demos with a maximum length of 2-page abstract

These categories have late deadlines to allow the most recent research and results to be submitted.

Deadlines posters and demos

Submission deadline

  • April 8 2016 (hard deadline)

Acceptance/rejection notification

  • May 9 2016

Camera ready

  • May 23 2016

DiGRA/FDG 2016 provides a doctoral consortium for PhD students. Those interested in attending this should submit a position paper in the extended abstract format with a maximum length of 2 pages.

Deadlines doctoral consortium

Submission deadline

  • April 22 2016 (hard deadline)

Acceptance/rejection notification

  • May 9 2016

DiGRA/FDG 2016 also welcomes submissions to arrange workshops. These have an earlier deadline than other submission to support workshops that wish to have their own peer reviewing process for submissions. These should be submitted as extended abstracts with a maximum length of 2 pages. Please submit workshop proposals by email to the three program chairs, and place “[FDG/DiGRA 2016 Workshop Submission]” in the subject line.

Deadlines workshops

Submission deadlines

  • November 16 2015 (hard deadline)

Acceptance/rejection notification

  • December 11 2015

Location & Date

  • August 1-6 2016
  • The School of Arts, Media and Computer Games, Abertay University
  • Dundee, Scotland, UK

For more information see:

Program Chairs


Gadget ergonomics

Mobile screen horrors? (cc: Wikipedia)
Mobile screen horrors? (cc: Wikipedia)

Short note on one of my pet hates as an active gadget geek: bad ergonomics. One could suppose that as the number and average active hours use of various computing and communication devices has gone up, the ergonomics should be getting better, to make this equation feasible. This is not happening, I am afraid. Sure, if you compare the top-of-the-line desktop workstation to the miserable situation in the early 1990s, as you were trying to survive with that crappy monitor and an early mouse that got stuck all the time, then there is some real progress. You might be working with dual (triple) monitor setup, with high refresh rates, chrystal clear IPS/retina displays, with multiple input devices that are sensibly positioned and ideally placed on a motorized, ergonomic table that you tweak to the optimal configuration with the help of an ergonomics professional. In the office. But, as we all know, working hours spent peacefully in your office are getting precious. We are on the move, and it is the ergonomics of the mobile devices that we should really be concerned about. Stanford University, for example, has published this health and safety guide for mobile device use in work. Though, when the first recommendation is to use a proper office chair wheneven using a laptop computer, the impossiblity of the entire situation becomes clear. Laptops, tablets and smartphones are used in trains, busses, aeroplanes and in all kinds of extemporized working environments – also regularly while running from a meeting to another, under the increasingly time-constrained schedules of today. The tiny screens and awkward positions needed to input anything into them are not making our necks, eyes or wrists very happy. It is possible that natural language interfaces, using some kind of subvocalizing so as not to draw attention to the speech interactions in public spaces — or possibly gesture recognition and augmented reality, semi-transparent displays are the answer. What is certain, is that the questions for our, and the future generation’s health are still there, unanswered.

Jaakko Stenros’ Doctoral Defence

Jaakko Stenros, Miguel Sicart, Frans Mäyrä
Jaakko Stenros, Miguel Sicart, Frans Mäyrä

Jaakko Stenros today successfully defended his PhD dissertation, titled “Playfulness, Play, and Games: A Constructionist Ludology Approach” in the University of Tampere. Miguel Sicart from ITU Copenhagen served as the distinguished opponent, leading the discussion to explore the relation of Jaakko’s research to some fundamental questions in play and game studies. In his conclusion, he gave credit to Stenros’ study, calling it “an unavoidable piece of work” for any future scholarship in this field. Congratulations to the new (future) doctor from the custos! The entire dissertation can be downloaded as a free PDF from here:

Working with the Disciplinarity in Game Studies


Summer School, Utrecht

The Summer School of Games and Play Research kicked off in Monday in Utrecht, where a large number of games scholars and students had gathered for two weeks of intensive discussions and presentations. One of the key challenges for setting up this kind of event for this field is related to its aims, and how the Summer School will address the wide reach of different branches of science and scholarship that is somehow related to games and play — should there be, e.g. a course on mathematical Game Theory, or something about current trends in programming in Game Development?

The planning group of the Summer School did its own decisions on how to profile the School, aiming to include those dimensions that relate to humanities, human sciences and design research in particular. Thus, there were sessions for example on the Psychology in Game and Play Research, as well as humanities and design oriented sessions, but Computer Science as well as the Economics, Law, and many other interesting disciplines where games and play are today researched were left off-focus at this time.

Frans Mäyrä, presenting the Utrecht keynote
Frans Mäyrä, presenting the Utrecht keynote

In my opening keynote I tried to address the multiplicity of origins, the evolution, and search for identity in Game Studies from multiple angles. As also the data from the games researcher survey I presented proves, this field is highly multi- and interdisciplinary: there are scholars coming from great many different degree programs and disciplinary backgrounds, they collaborate often closely with scholars coming from other fields, and it is also very common to change from one discipline to another. As a field, Game Studies is highly dynamic, and attracts people from all sides of academia. Yet, these people also rather strongly self-identify as a somewhat coherent group: they feel that they are indeed “(digital) games researchers”, and overwhelming majority of respondents of that survey also reported of being “gamers” themselves. (For full details, see: Mäyrä, Frans, Jan Van Looy & Thorsten Quandt (2013) “Disciplinary Identity of Game Scholars: An Outline”. Proceedings of DiGRA 2013. Atlanta: Georgia Tech & DiGRA. [])

However, to counterbalance the polyphony of different voices and discourses addressing games and play today, also certain disciplinary elements are needed. The academic evaluation, both at the level of individual publications, as well as when job positions are being filled, requires that there are ways to recognise those who are best qualified to comment on the quality of research as Game Studies, and not judge it according to criteria of some other field. This is somewhat tricky thing, of course, and subject of negotiation every time such evaluation work is carried out. Is this something that should be evaluated as humanities oriented Game Studies — or as something with more Social Sciences focus? Is the position filled mainly so that there will be solid conceptual analyst or theorist in the faculty, or for finding someone who can act as a bridge builder between academia and games industry, for example?

I would say that today, like more than a decade ago when the question of disciplinarity of Game Studies was emphatically taken up, there is as much need for “disciplinary work” in the field as ever: there is need for conceptual clarity, continuity and cumulative understanding of key dimensions of games and play research, and also need for standards and reference texts that are necessary milestones in degree programs. However, I would not want to see Game Studies to calcify according any single “dogma” or “right way” of carrying out academic work. And it need not — any disciplinary field with an identity and a living community of scholars is based on constant renegotiation of what “we are”, what this discipline actually is, and what are its key focus areas. It might help to think about organism like amoeba: it has boundaries, it has “inside” and “outside”, but those boundaries are constantly in the move, and adapt to the chancing environment, sometimes engulfin some new element within itself, sometimes possibly even dividing into several new organisms (or: maybe amoeba do not do that? I am more likely thinking of bacteria here…)

There are practical concerns in Game Studies like in any other field in contemporary academia, as the university system is undergoing restructuring and many fields of learning need to provide good reasons for its existence and functions in a society. Game Studies certainly serves important scholarly functions, by addressing phenomena of major significance in the “Ludic Society” of today and tomorrow. The understanding of games, their history, genres, ways of how such dynamic systems operate, their design principles and how they are experienced by different kinds of people — all such things are needed, not only by academic researchers in this field, but also increasingly by experts who want to understand the changes in society, culture, learning, commerce, social interaction, etc. Thus, my claim: “in the future, every discipline needs to be a Game Studies discipline”. On the other hand, it is not enough to have some minor elements related to digital media, online communication and games scattered in several, disconnected degree programs in various parts of academia. There is also need for a “core discipline”, and an increasing (even if still rather modest) need for graduates that can be the experts who provide the reference work and theoretical and practical foundation of games and play research, so that it can then be applied in many other fields as well.

The program of Summer School was built to reflect this kind of principles of multiplicity and unity: the morning keynotes provided coherent arguments and perspectives into what games and play research is, or should be. The afternoons start with disciplinary seminars, where people coming and working within somewhat shared academic frameworks can develop their joint responses and interpretations of those same themes, and to develop their distinctive own agendas. The final element in the program are the more experimental, interdisciplinary workshops and the game jam, designed to bring together people from multiple sides of the research field, and to catalyse new ideas, creative concepts, and processes.

Unfortunately my busy schedules forced me to leave the Summer School early, but I wish everyone very fruitful and stimulating days in Utrecht, and look forward to the results, conclusions and any feedback that will be coming from it. Long live Game Studies – One, and Many!

You can find my keynote slides embedded below:

Keynotes and other talks, Fall 2013

I will be speaking in various interesting events again this Fall, including at least these:

  • Cicero Technologies for Learning symposium, 22 August 2013, Helsinki
  • Suomen yliopistojen toimitilaseminaari, 22 August 2013, Helsinki
  • DiGRA 2013: full paper presentation “Disciplinary Identity of Game Scholar”, plus talking in the panel/fireside chat “10 Years of Game Studies”, 26-29 August 2013, Atlanta, USA
  • Keynote in Opettajankoulutuksen 25-vuotisjuhlat, Kokkolan yliopistokeskus Chydenius, 12 September 2013, Kokkola
  • Suomen Kulttuurirahaston Kulttuurinpuolustuskurssi, 27 September 2013, Hämeenlinna
  • Turun kirjamessut & Tiedemessut, lecture + panel talk, 4 October 2013, Turku
  • PLUS: a remote keynote about transmediality in Focus in German Studies (USA), and another keynote in Spain, both in November (more about those later).

See you there!


[In Finnish, about being a nerd] Nörttien julkinen kuva on parhaimmillaankin ristiriitainen. Suomalaiseen kulttuuriin on liitetty hiljaisuuden ja tietyn epäsosiaalisuuden sietokykyä, ja voikin olla että kirjoihin, eksoottisiin harrastuksiin ja tietotekniikkaan syventyminen saa nörttinuoren elämässä näkyvämpiä vastareaktioita esimerkiksi Yhdysvalloissa, missä sosiaalista suosiota ja suhdeverkostoja tunnutaan painottavan paljon. 80-luvulla, ensimmäisen tietokonebuumin aikoihin uutta tekniikkaa taitavasti käytelleitä nuoria noteerattiin ainakin mediassa tietyllä ihmettelyn ja ihailun sekaisella uteliaisuudella. Pelit, scifi, fantasia ja tietotekniikka eivät nykypäivän Suomessa vaikuta olevan mikään automaattinen kauhistelun tai kummastelun kohde; ehkä demoskenestä nousseet peli- ja it-firmat ovat puhtaalla rahallisella menestyksellään jotenkin luoneet sädekehää myös nörttien elämäntyylien ja mielenkiinnon kohteiden ympärille?

Silti, yksinäisyys ja masennus ovat usein perinteisiin nörttiharrastuksiin syventyneiden nuorten seuralaisina. Koululaisten sosiaalisen kompetenssin ja yksinäisyyden kokemusten aihepiiristä väitellyt Niina Junttila on kertonut että pojista 10-11 prosenttia kokee ahdistavaa yksinäisyyttä. Internet ja pelit voivat tarjota toiselle nuorelle myönteisen ja voimaannuttavan, toiselle yksinäisyyttä ja ahdistusta pahentavan elementin elämään – nörttiyden kokokuvaan mahtuu runsaasti erilaisia muotoja ja sävyjä, yksinkertaistavaa niputtamista kannattaa varoa.

80- ja 90-luvuilta lähtien on noussut myös nörtti- tai geek-identiteettiä kapinallisesti juhlistava vastadiskurssi, missä intellektuellit harrastukset, paksut silmälasit ja kankeat kauluspaidat nostetaan suorastaan muoti-ikoneiksi. Yhdysvalloissa julkaistiin jo 1984 klassinen nörttien kosto -komedia, Revenge of the Nerds, joka on saavuttanut pienimuotoisen kulttistatuksen. Tosielämän it-nörttien menestystarinat yhteen koonnut dokumentti Triumph of the Nerds (1996) viittasi jo nimellään aiempaan teinikomediaan. Erilaisten nuorten elämä on silti usein sietämättömän raskasta, eikä urallaan menestyneiden bittinikkarien esimerkit jaksa innostaa kaikkia.

Sosiaalisella medialla voi olla oma myönteinen roolinsa keskustelun herättäjänä ja vaihtoehtoisten näkökulmien tarjoajana. Hyvä esimerkki on seksuaalivähemmistöihin kuuluvien nuorten vainoamista ja itsemurhia vastaan kampanjoiva “It Gets Better” -projekti, joka nostaa esiin myönteisiä tarinoita oman paikkansa ja omanarvon tunnon tavoittamisesta. Suomessakin oli aikoinaan Irti Elämästä ry., jonka pyrkimyksenä oli huumorilla auttaa nörttinuoria irtautumaan ulkopuolisen hyväksynnän tavoittelusta ja liputtaa “ei elämää” -tyyppisten, enemmän introverttisten ihmisten elämään soveltuvien elämänsisältöjen puolesta. Jotakuta voivat auttaa vaikkapa Susan Cainin Quiet-kirjan kuvaukset sisäänpäin kääntyneiden ihmisten sulkeutuneisuuteen kätkeytyvistä voimavaroista.
Osittaisena inspiraationa tämän blogikirjoituksen laatimiseen olivat ohjelmistoyrittäjä, kirjailija Paul Grahamin pitkä verkkoessee “Why Nerds Are Unpopular” (Miksi nörtit ovat epäsuosittuja), missä hän korostaa että menestyäkseen (amerikkalaisen) koululaitoksen raadollisessa sosiaalisessa suosiokilpailussa joutuu uhraamaan niin paljon muuta, että fiksut nuoret menestyvät parhaiten elämässään kun eivät edes yritä lähteä mukaan moiseen. Toisaalta olen lueskellut viime aikoina myös monia erilaisia suomalaisen blogosfäärin tarinoita, missä yksinäisyyteen liittyy usein niin myönteisiä ja omaa identiteettiä määrittäviä piirteitä, että toisaalta mielenterveysongelmia ja syrjäytymistä. Mitään yhtä neuvoa tai “ratkaisua” nörttinuoren haasteisiin onkin mahdotonta lähteä tarjoamaan. Näin keski-ikäisenä, “professorinörttinä”, puolisona ja kolmen pienen pojan isänä toivoisi kuitenkin että näitä erilaisia tarinoita, ääniä, tulkintoja ja viestejä erilaisuuden samanlaisuudesta, elämän mielekkyyden ja yhteyden kokemusten löytämisestä pidettäisiin esillä – niin täällä internetissä, kuin mahdollisimman monessa muussakin yhteydessä.

New bluetooth keyboard: Logitech k810

Logitech k810
Logitech k810

I have used my share of bluetooth keyboards before, and the various connectivity issues and other problems have eventually always turned me away from them. But it is apparently good idea to give them a second chance. The new Logitech k810/811 (Win/Mac versions) is a stylish, illuminated bluetooth keyboard, which features “Easy-Switch” technique, meaning that it has three quick buttons, which take you from your Android tabled/iPad to your desktop PC and back in a couple of seconds. The feel of keys is solid enough, and the backlighting is both automatic, and manually controllable (in automatic mode it will go dark when not needed, and then magically light up when your fingers approach the keys, it also adjusts to the ambient light levels, nice). The battery can be charged through a standard USB charger/port, and it carries on in standard use for c. 10 days, or a full year in one go, if the backlight is off, according to the manufacturer. Now, it it only could have been a bit cheaper…

But the price was worth it: this is finally something that consolidates much of the typing experience across my multiple devices. I can see carrying around just this keyboard and the Nexus 7 – or even the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone – to trips where I know I will only be doing some note taking, email and other light-weight jobs, rather than taking the laptop. This is also go nice for typing that I am currently testing it on my main workstation as the main keyboard, let’s see how that goes.

Often technologies take their time to mature, but bluetooth finally seems to be achieving that state. The new, low energy / Bluetooth SMART as it is being called, is opening access to more links to e.g. sports, health care, proximity sensing apps and devices as well as providing new alerts and time profiles that e.g. the next generation wristwatches need to communicate with your smartphone. There is much talk about certain manufacturers preparing their smart watches at the moment, and it is interesting to see how that will work out, in addition to Google Glass and other siminar new peripherals that extend your access to information, games and services.

Summer School 2014: Identity and Interdisciplinarity in Games and Play Research

We got some good news in the middle of summer: our consortium of European game studies centres has been granted funds to organise an international Summer School of game studies in 2014. There is more information in the annoucement below:

Summer School: Identity and Interdisciplinarity in Games and Play Research

The first interdisciplinary European summer school in game and play research will take place 16-31 August 2014 at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. It is aimed at talented PhD and MA/MSc students who are interested in the study of games and play. It offers students an innovative interdisciplinary platform for learning about games and play that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Europe or beyond.

This ERASMUS IP Summer School is hosted by Utrecht University, but organized by different European universities that are considered as leaders in the field. It will consist of a two-week intensive programme during which students are encouraged to develop their research ideas further. It will provide a unique opportunity to learn about cutting-edge theories and methodologies from leading scholars in the field. Students will have the rare opportunity to broaden their horizon internationally, and to gain knowledge about games and play from an interdisciplinary perspective.

The target group consists of excellent PhD and MA/MSc students who are starting or working on thesis projects in games and play from a background in the humanities, design research, social sciences, computer sciences or other related domains. Around 60 students from 17 different participating European institutions of higher education will be selected and are offered an exceptional chance to look beyond the borders of their home institutions in order to gain knowledge about the full scope of European scholarship on games and play. The participating students, share the ability to broaden their scope of knowledge and go beyond the boundaries of their fields.

During this summer school we will stimulate students to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of games and play as cultural phenomena, thus teaching them the means to develop an informed methodological and theoretical framework for their research. Activities such as reading, writing, discussing, lecturing, presenting, excursions, and interdisciplinary workshops will serve this purpose. The main expected outputs will consists of papers (proceedings), poster presentations, public online discussion (web forum, social media) and designed games and/or playful objects as output of practice-based research during workshops.

Travel and sustenance costs for selected students from participating universities will be covered by the ERASMUS IP.

More information

More information about the Summer School, and how to apply for participation will follow later on On this website you can find a list of participating universities.

Organizational team

Joost Raessens – Utrecht University, The Netherlands
René Glas – Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Sybille Lammes – University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Frans Mäyrä – University of Tampere, Finland
Mathias Fuchs – Leuphana University, Germany
Ben Schouten – Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands

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