21591855529_f7d9e538fd_zTwo weeks ago, on Sunday 20th of September, we stepped into the fantasy world of office stock photos. Eleven people left behind this flawed world and instead inhabited a world of dynamic team work, joyous camaraderie, and the security of all things forever trending upwards. This was the larp Täydellinen ihminen (Eng. The Perfect Human), played in Helsinki.

21788299311_fb4b4f98ff_zAlthough I’ve played role-playing games since the late 1980s, larped since the mid-1990s, and studied role-playing games for almost a decade, I rarely actually design, create, or run role-playing games. Täydellinen ihminen is only the second larp where I have a role in the design. It seems to me that many game scholars have a wish, sometimes hidden, that they’d rather design than study kick-ass games. I am not like that. I love just studying, evaluating, documenting, contextualizing, and understanding the works of others. But sometimes there just is a concept or an idea too juicy to stay away from.

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SuomenPelimuseoSuomen pelimuseo avataan itsenäisyyden juhlavuonna, tammikuussa 2017 Tampereelle. Pelimuseon joukkorahoituskampanja päättyi eilen, ja se onnistui yli odotusten. Museo keräsi yli 85.000 euroa lahjoituksina, mikä on suurin joukkorahoituspalvelu Mesenaattin kautta kasattu summa.

Minulla oli kunnia olla mukana Tampereella puhumassa joukkorahoituskampanjan julkistustilaisuudessa Vapriikissa 31. maaliskuuta. Pidin siellä lyhyen puheen. Julkaisen sen nyt tässä Suomen pelimuseon varmistumisen kunniaksi.

Suomalainen leikin ja pelin tutkimus varjoteatterista roolipeleihin

Tunnumme elävän pelien kultakautta. Pelit, erityisesti digitaaliset sellaiset, tulevat vastaan olohuoneessa ja luokkahuoneessa, kulttuuri- ja taloussivuilla, työssä ja vapaalla. Pelit valtaavat kaikki uudet digitaaliset alustat, mutta samalla eletään myös lautapelien uutta nousua. Pelit halutaan myös valjastaa hyötykäyttöön, oli sitten kysymys pelillistämisestä tai pelioppimisesta. Elektroninen urheilu nostaa suosiotaan, ja ammattipelaamisen eri muodot vilkkuvat nuorison haaveissa. Pelit eivät tietenkään liity vain haaveisiin, vaan myös pelkoihin. Ongelmapelaamisesta puhutaan, samoin addiktiosta – ja toisaalta digitaalisista kuiluista. Ei siis ihme, että viime vuosina on alettu puhua ’pelien vuosisadasta’, ’pelaajien yhteiskunnasta’ ja ’kulttuurin leikillistymisestä’. Pelit ja leikki paitsi tuntuvat tulevan vastaan joka käänteessä, ne ovat yksi avain tämän aikakauden käsittämiseen.

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Award: Best PhD

11952734_10153007984021345_6126941914586621155_oLast Thursday, at the opening ceremony for the school year, I was awarded the best PhD award of the year at the University of Tampere. Well, two awards were given out, so one of the two best. The other one went to Ira Virtanen for her speech communication work Supportive Communication in Finnish Men’s Friendships.

The room was packed, mostly with first year students. There was noticeable, confused yet positive reaction to both works among the students that had the feeling of “Men’s emotions and grief play? This is university?”

You can download both for free from Tampere University Press.

Picture by Frans Mäyrä.

Lectio Praecursoria

image1A Finnish defense begins with the defendant giving an introductory lecture called lectio praecursoria. This lecture should explain to a general audience the main thrust of the argumentation in the dissertation, and to contextualize the meaning and impact of the dissertation in the society.  This is the lectio I delivered on May 9th.

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Playfulness and play are deeply rooted in our cultures, in the way we socially interact with each other, and even in the biology of our bodies. Playfulness and play are, to us humans, ever-present. Play is older than language. It is older than culture. It is older than humans. Indeed, play is not only human, or even just mammalian. It is an exaggeration to say that if it has a spine, it plays, but the exaggeration is not huge. Play is primal.

In recent years certain formalized patterns of play, namely games, have been particularly visible in public discourse. The prominent role of designed digital game products in economy, society, and culture has drawn increasing public attention to them, and there are numerous initiatives to adopt games and game-like structures outside the traditional domains of games, for purposes such as learning and value creation. Continue Reading »

WP_001640The dissertation is finally finished and published. It is very different from what I set out to create six years ago, but so am I. This is my fifth book, but the first I have written on my own. You can download the book for free from Tampere University Press.

The public dissertation defense will be held on Saturday May 9th at 12 noon in lecture hall Pinni B 1097 at the University of Tampere. The opponent is professor Miguel Sicart from the IT University of Copenhagen. Professor Frans Mäyrä will be the custos.

Click for the abstract. Continue Reading »

Aesthetics of Action

Alibis for Interaction 2013

Alibis for Interaction, a new conference on experience design, was held last week for the first time in Landskrona, Sweden. I gave a talk called Living The Story, Free to Choose – Participant Agency in Co-Created Worlds. The idea of aesthetics of action is something that emerged in discussions with Johanna MacDonald (she started the discussion). We did a pecha kucha on the topic at the Stage theatre festival in Helsinki in 2010. She talked about it at Nordic Larp Talks in 2012 (see the video) and I’ve talked on this topic at  Death Animations at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in 2012.  However, nothing has been published on the topic thus far. Here is the text of my talk.

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KP2013-Saita-1by Markus Montola & Jaakko Stenros


Knutepunkt is a playful space.

It is a summer camp, a student club, and a rock
festival. It is a place where like-minded people gather to think outside the box, to meet new people, to fool around. When newcomers describe Knutepunkt as a magical experience, it is this playfulness they are talking about.

We must acknowledge that Knutepunkt is play. Wacky room parties, crazy rituals and weird traditions are not incidental side effects, but expressions of the playful core. That is what the provocative talks, in-your-face rants and offensive jokes are about, and yes, even the flirting, singing and drinking. We wield play to express creativity and to build community.

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