End of year blog note 2022

There have been many nice things in this year, 2022, even though it feels that it has run really fast. Our Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies was operating in full speed, featuring great events like the GameBooks, the game studies spring seminar 2022. The mid-point evaluation of the CoE took place after the fourth year, and we prepared for it carefully. The efforts were rewarded, and the Academy of Finland international review panel gave us outstanding marks on the quality, impact and exceptional scope of our operations. We were awarded with funding for the latter CoE period with glowing marks.

Another big reason for party was that 2022 was also the 20th Anniversary of our Game Research Lab. We started in 2022 when we both initiated a bunch of important game research projects, publications, and also organised the Computer Games and Digital Cultures (CGDC 2002) conference. This was also where I advertised the initiative to establish DiGRA, Digital Games Research Association, which was officially added into the Registry of Associations in 2003 – another reason to have a 20th Anniversary!

Personally, I have continued to be engaged as the professor in the master’s degree program of Game Studies as well as in our doctoral program. I have also continued to work in the editorial board of Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja (the Finnish Yearbook of Game Studies, the only peer-evaluated publication dedicated to games research in Finnish language). I published a historical and discipline-analytical article about “Game Studies” in the Encyclopedia of Ludic Terms, and also collaborated with Jani Kinnunen and the research assistant Milla Tuomela on the eight Pelaajabarometri (the Finnish Player Barometer survey 2022). There were many people who completed their PhD in game studies, and you can read six “lectios” (public doctoral defence talks) from the Yearbook of Game Studies alone (by Usva Friman, Tero Karttula, Jani Kinnunen, Heidi Rautalahti, Matilda Ståhl and Maria Ruotsalainen). Congratulations to all new doctors!

In even more personal note, I moved to use Apple’s Mac computers as my primary work and personal tools this year, after decades of mostly Windows PC usage. I have been pretty happy with the transition, particularly as the integration with my iPhone and iPad works so well – I have always access to the data and images I need. The user experiences provided by MacOS, iPadOS and iOS are pretty good, the Mac has the best trackpad and gesture control of all computer systems, and iPad Pro has been getting better in multitasking, even if it still has its limitations. But I have not given up other operating systems and hardware ecosystems completely: e.g., this blog post is written under Linux with my HP Elitebook (I just love the typing experience of its keyboard), and in our household, we continue to have several Windows PCs, as the support for gaming is still best in the PC. My family is full with serious gamers (I am the most casual one) and there are multiple things related to graphics cards, operating system updates, various game services, local home networking etc. that I sometimes need to deal with, as the local IT support guy. But I am happy that my family seems to love gaming with Nintendo Switch, as that console needs very little IT support – it just runs fine those Pokémon and Zelda games.

I have also continued my nature and bird photography hobby pretty actively – it provided me with a reason to go out walking and getting some fresh air daily, even if I have scaled down my ambitions with rare species a bit. I noticed that counting the species I had photographed turned the nature and art oriented activity into some kind of competition and gaming exercise. Today, I am happy to try evolving my photography skills with any, even the most common birds, animals, insects and landscapes I encounter and have access to, without extra stress.

There was also the sad day, when we lost Matti, my father, after a long and difficult illness. His funeral was in early December in Helsinki.

By the way, this blog was started in March 2004, and while social media has taken over most of the discussion, sharing and commenting functions already for the past decade at least, I like the leisurely style of reflective writing too much to let this site die. There is still more than a year to the day when I’ll write the 20th Anniversary blog post! (Btw, I needed to get away from the toxic mess that Twitter had become, so I replaced that site with a new profile in the distributed, non-commercial Mastodon network. I also remain pretty active in Facebook, of all places.)

Here are a few photos, at the end of the year – have an excellent New Year 2023!

PC Build, Midsummer 2020

I have followed an about five-year PC upgrade cycle – making smaller, incremental parts upgrades in-between, and building a totally new computer every four-five years. My previous two completely new systems were built during a Xmas break – in December 2011 and 2015. This time, I was seeking for something to put my mind into right now (year 2020 has been a tough one), and specced my five-year build now in Midsummer, already.

It somehow feels that every year is a bad year to invest into computer systems. There is always something much better coming up, just around the corner. This time, it seems that there will be both a new processor generation and new major graphics card generation coming up, later in 2020. But after doing some comparative research for a couple of weeks, in the end, I did not really care. The system I’ll build with the 2020 level of technology, should be much more capable than the 2015 one, in any case. Hopefully the daily system slowdowns and bottlenecks would ease, now.

Originally, I thought that this year would be the year of AMD: both the AMD Zen 2 architecture based, Ryzen 3000 series CPUs and Radeon RX 5000 GPUs appeared very promising in terms of value for money. In the end, it looks like this might be my last Intel-Nvidia system (?), instead. My main question-marks related to the single-core performance in CPUs, and to the driver reliability in Radeon 5000 GPUs. The more I read, and discussed with people who had experience with the Radeon 5000 GPUs, the more I heard stories about blue screens and crashing systems. The speed and price of the AMD hardware itself seemed excellent. In CPUs, on the other hand, I evaluated my own main use cases, and ended up with the conclusion that the slightly better single core performance of Intel 10th generation processors would mean a bit more to me, than the solid multi-core, multithread-performance of similarly priced, modern Ryzen processors.

After a couple of weeks of study into mid-priced, medium-powered components, here are the core elements chosen for my new, Midsummer 2020 system:

Intel Core i5-10600K, LGA1200, 4.10 GHz, 12MB, Boxed (there is some overclocking potential in this CPU, too)

ARCTIC Freezer 34 eSports DUO – Red, processor cooler (I studied both various watercooling solutions, and the high-powered Noctua air coolers, before settling on this one; the watercooling systems did not appear quite as durable in the long run, and the premium NH-D15 was a bit too large to fit comfortably into the case; this appared to be a good compromise)

MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, ATX motherboard (this motherboard appears to strike a nice balance between price vs. solid construction, feature set, and investments put into the Voltage Regulator Modules, VRMs, and other key electronic circuit components)

Corsair 32GB (2 x 16GB) Vengeance LPX, DDR4 3200MHz, CL16, 1.35V memory modules (this amount of memory is not needed for gaming, I think, but for all my other, multitasking and multi-threaded everyday uses)

MSI GeForce RTX 2060 Super ARMOR OC GPU, 8GB GDDR6 (this is entry level ray-tracing technology – that should be capable enough for my use, for a couple of years at least)

Samsung 1TB 970 EVO Plus SSD M.2 2280, PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe, 3500/3300 MB/s (this is the system disk; there will be another SSD and a large HDD, plus a several-terabyte backup solution)

Corsair 750W RM750x (2018), modular power unit, 80 Plus Gold (there should be enough reliable power available in this PSU)

Cooler Master MasterBox TD500 Mesh w/ controller, ATX, Black (this is chosen on the basis of available test results – the priorities for me here were easy installation, efficient air flow, and thirdly silent operation)

As a final note, it was interesting to note that during the intervening 2015-2020 period, there was time when RGB lights became the de facto standard in PC parts: everything was radiating and pulsating in multiple LED colours like a Xmas tree. It is ok to think about design, and aim towards some kind of futurism, even, in this context. But some things are just plain ridiculous, and I am happy to see a bit more minimalism winning ground in PC enthusiast level components, too.

4K Ultra HD monitor

Samsung U28D590D
Samsung U28D590D.
Sharper is better. I just booked the last remaining unit of Samsung U28D590D, an Ultra HD, 4K monitor from the local PC store (a display unit) at nice, 320 euros price. This is probably the most budget-consious alternative in 4K, 28″ monitors you can find; there are better, IPS screens (this is a high quality TN), and particularly professional models have better ergonomic in the stand (this is a completely fixed thing, and no VESA mounting either). But the colour reproduction, brightness are excellent, and particularly having 3840 x 2160 resolution at 60Hz, with 1 ms speed (over the Display Port 1.2) makes this pretty much what I have been looking for my gaming and photo editing needs. I am also regularly plugging in several computers (PC/gaming workstation, Macbook Pro Retina, Chromebook) to the same display at my desk, and there is interesting PIP (picture-in-picture) mode in U28D590D where you can keep an eye on the second PC while simultaneously working full screen on the other (let’s see how useful this will be in reality, though). If you think there is a better deal available from somewhere at the 300 euros price range, let me know. More information: http://www.samsung.com/levant/consumer/it/monitor/uhd-monitor/LU28D590DS/ZN.

Edit: this is the thread with instructions for getting 52 Hz at 4k on the retina MacBook Pro 13: http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/4k-display-and-retina-macbook-pro-13.1741440/

Pelaajabarometri 2013: Mobiilipelaamisen nousu

Pelaajabarometri 2013
Pelaajabarometri 2013

Pelaajabarometrissa uutta tietoa pelaamisen muutossuunnista

Nyt julkaistu, vuoden 2013 aikana kerättyä aineistoa raportoiva uusin Pelaajabarometri kertoo pelaamisen suosion kokonaisuudessaan pysyneen ennallaan. Jos huomioidaan kaikki erilaiset pelimuodot ja satunnainenkin pelaaminen lähes jokainen suomalainen pelaa ainakin jotakin. Aktiivisia, vähintään kerran kuukaudessa jotain peliä pelaavia suomalaisia on noin 88 prosenttia.

Digitaalisten pelien päätyypeistä älypuhelimilla ja tablet-laitteilla pelattavat mobiilipelit olivat tutkimuksen mukaan merkittävästi kasvattaneet suosiotaan Suomessa. Vuonna 2009 ensimmäisessä Pelaajabarometrissa aktiivisia, vähintään kerran kuussa mobiilipelejä pelaavia vastaajia oli noin 13 %, mutta vuoden 2013 aineistossa tämä osuus jo vajaat 29 %. Käytännössä siis jo lähes joka kolmas suomalainen pelaa vähintään kerran kuussa jotain mobiilipeliä.

Sen sijaan niin tietokonepelit, selaimessa pelattavat pelit (Facebook-pelejä lukuun ottamatta) sekä konsolivideopelit ovat selkeästi menettäneet aktiivisia pelaajia. Esimerkiksi kun yksin pelattavien tietokonepelien aktiivisten pelaajien osuus suomalaisista vuonna 2011 oli yli 40 prosenttia, on se nyt 2013 barometriaineistossa alle 28 prosenttia. Vastaavasti aktiivisten konsolipelaajien osuus on pudonnut kahdessa vuodessa vajaasta 30 prosentista alle 19 prosentin osuuteen tutkittavasta väestöstä. Digitaalisessa pelaamisessa on nähtävissä selvää painopisteen siirtymää konsolivideopeleistä ja tietokonepeleistä tablet-laitteilla ja älypuhelimella pelattavien pelien pariin.

Perinteisten pelimuotojen suosiossa ei ole Pelaajabarometrin mukaan tapahtunut merkittäviä muutoksia, lukuun ottamatta paperilla pelattavia pulmapelejä, jotka ovat menettäneet suosiotaan vuonna 2011 havaitusta vajaasta 48 prosentista vuoden 2013 aineiston vajaaseen 42 prosenttiin aktiivisia pelaajia. Perinteisten rahapelien kohdalla on myös havaittavissa vähenevää suosiota: niin Veikkauksen, RAY:n kuin Fintotonkin järjestämät rahapelit ovat kaikki menettäneet muutaman prosenttiyksikön pelaajasuosiotaan vuoteen 2011 verrattuna. RAY:n perinteisten kolikkoautomaattipelien kohdalla suosion lasku on ollut suurinta. Verkkorahapelit eivät ole vastaavalla tavalla kasvattaneet pelaajamääriään.

Kun kaikkien suomalaisten pelaajien keski-ikä on yli 42 vuotta, on keskimääräinen digitaalisten pelien pelaaja yli 37-vuotias. Miesten ja naisten välisessä pelaamisessa ei kaikki pelaamisen tyypit huomioiden ole merkittävää eroa. Digitaalisen pelaamisen aktiivisuus on kuitenkin miesten ja poikien keskuudessa hieman tyttöjä ja naisia suurempaa.

Kun tarkastellaan yksittäisiä pelejä ja pelisarjoja, nousevat pasianssipelit jälleen ylivoimaisesti suosituimmiksi digitaalisiksi peleiksi. Suomalaisen Rovion Angry Birds -sarjan pelit ovat pelisuosiossa toisella sijalla ja veikkauspelit kolmantena. Suosituimpia pelejä pelataan niin mobiililaitteilla kuin tietokoneillakin.

Barometrissä tutkittiin nyt ensimmäistä kertaa pelien ostamista ja pelien lisäominaisuuksiin kohdistuvaa virtuaalihyödykkeiden ostamista. Digitaalinen jakelu esimerkiksi mobiilipelien verkkokaupoissa (”app stores”) on yleistynyt viime vuosina, mutta nyt toteutettu pelien hankintakysely kertoo että perinteinen, kaupasta tapahtuva pelin ostaminen on edelleen tyypillisin tapa hankkia digitaalinen peli. Kaupasta pelinsä ainakin toisinaan hankki kaikista vastaajista noin 43 prosenttia, aktiivisten digipelaajien joukosta yli puolet.

Lisäksi ilmaispelaaminen (”free-to-play”) ja pelien mikromaksut ovat olleet uudistamassa tuotteista verkkopalveluiksi muuttuvien digitaalisten pelien käytänteitä. Aktiivisista digipelaajista ainakin toisinaan verkkopalvelusta pelejä latasi noin 41 prosenttia, ja ilmaispelien lisäominaisuuksista rahaa oli maksanut 19 prosenttia. Kaikkien vastaajien joukosta vastaavat prosenttiosuudet olivat 27 ja 12 prosenttia. Eri ikäryhmistä aktiivisimpia digitaalisten viihdepelien ostajia olivat 30–39-vuotiaat, aktiiviset digiviihdepelaajat.

Nyt neljättä kertaa toteutettu Pelaajabarometri on kyselytutkimus pelaamisen eri muotojen yleisyydestä Suomessa. Tampereen, Turun ja Jyväskylän yliopistojen pelitutkijoiden yhteistyönä syntynyt tutkimus tarjoaa kattavaa ja ajankohtaista tietoa pelaamisen eri muodoista ja pelaamisen suosioon liittyvistä muutostrendeistä. Vuonna 2013 tutkimukseen kerätty 972 vastaajan aineisto pohjautuu Väestörekisterikeskuksen satunnaisotantaan 10–75–vuotiaista Manner-Suomen asukkaista.

Julkaisun osoite: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-44-9425-3


Professori Frans Mäyrä, frans.mayra@uta.fi, puh. 050 336 7650
Tampereen yliopisto, informaatiotieteiden yksikkö, Game Research Lab
www.uta.fi/sis, http://gamelab.uta.fi


Simulation & Gaming, Finnish Special Issue

Simulation & GamingThere is an interesting bunch of articles now available in the “Online First” area of Simulation & Gaming journal, featuring the work carried out in Finnish simulation, gaming & game studies field (some of it by researchers affiliated with our UTA Game Research Lab), highly worth checking out:

Development of a Finnish Community of Game Scholars
J. Tuomas Harviainen, Timo Lainema, Jaakko Suominen, and Erno Soinila
Simulation & Gaming 1046878113513533, first published on December 3, 2013 as doi:10.1177/1046878113513533

Hypercontextualized Learning Games: Fantasy, Motivation, and Engagement in Reality
Carolina Islas Sedano, Verona Leendertz, Mikko Vinni, Erkki Sutinen, and Suria Ellis
Simulation Gaming published 30 December 2013, 10.1177/1046878113514807

Subjective Experience and Sociability in a Collaborative Serious Game
Kimmo Oksanen
Simulation Gaming published 25 December 2013, 10.1177/1046878113513079

Social Network Games: Players’ Perspectives
Janne Paavilainen, Juho Hamari, Jaakko Stenros, and Jani Kinnunen
Simulation Gaming published 25 December 2013, 10.1177/1046878113514808

Experience Assessment and Design in the Analysis of Gameplay
Benjamin Cowley, Ilkka Kosunen, Petri Lankoski, J. Matias Kivikangas, Simo Järvelä, Inger Ekman, Jaakko Kemppainen, and Niklas Ravaja
Simulation Gaming published 23 December 2013, 10.1177/1046878113513936

Formation of Novice Business Students’ Mental Models Through Simulation Gaming
Lauri-Matti Palmunen, Elina Pelto, Anni Paalumäki, and Timo Lainema
Simulation Gaming published 23 December 2013, 10.1177/1046878113513532

Physiological Linkage of Dyadic Gaming Experience
Simo Järvelä, J. Matias Kivikangas, Jari Kätsyri, and Niklas Ravaja
Simulation & Gaming 1046878113513080, first published on December 23, 2013 as doi:10.1177/1046878113513080

Table of contents online: http://sag.sagepub.com/content/44/6.toc?etoc

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