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minun-pelihistoriani

The recently opened Finnish Museum of Games is a wonderful peek into Finnish game artefacts. However, games only truly become when they are played. This requires players. Players and their personal histories of playing is the subject of the exhibition that opens at the museum today – which features such personal effects as an egg timer, a butchered Barbie-magazine, Forgotten Realms literature, gaming equipment received as a present at a Christening, remote kalsarikänni technology, and chronicles of dynasties in The Sims.

img_20170109_155729The exhibition, called Minun pelihistoriani, offers a peak into the ludic past of thirteen current Tampere residents. The show features short textual peaks into the past as well as game, artefacts related to gaming, and photographs of playing. The exhibitions was created on a university course that I co-organized with Annakaisa Kultima and it is the first to take advantage of the studio space in the newly opened museum.

It is one thing to write general histories of games, and quite another to look at personal histories with games and play. What we learned during the process of putting this show together is that gaming histories are deeply personal – and even periods of not playing can be deeply meaningful in a history of ludic conduct. Playing is present at most parts of life, and any history of playing is a history of that person. While these accounts are personal, many of them are also recognizable and shared.

Minun pelihistoriani is open at Finnish Museum of Games until February 10th. The museum is bilingual, all texts are available in Finnish and English.

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the-kingdom-stig
To mark the holiday season I will blog about something other than work for the first time in a very long time. Once upon a time, I was a film critic for an urban free paper Nöjesguiden/V-lehti. No, not even that. I was a film reviewer, and a thoroughly mediocre one at that. However, the thing that I most miss about those days is making top 5 or top 10 lists with my colleagues. The top five usages of helicopters in cinema! The top five Jesus films!

Back then, we had a formula. The list should include something everyone would recognize, something timely, something funny, and something people would probably not think of. Today I will list my current top ten television series of all time and my top five favourites of 2016 (not included on the master list). For no particular reason and in no particular order. My list ended up surprisingly middle-of-the-road and uncontroversial in comparison to the lists we used to do back then. I have mellowed out. In addition, my selections are pretty gay. Still, the most surprising thing about the list is the complete lack of scifi.

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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. (more…)

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Out of My Comfort Zone


This fall has been all about stepping out of my comfort zone. I accepted the temporary position at the University of Tampere as an Assistant Professor of Internet Researcher, which means a lot more teaching — also based on material created by other people. I have also ventured into both sex and death, keynoting at Arse Electronica and Death Animations. I was terrified of both, as both the subject matters and the audiences were a little alien to me in an academic context, but also superexicited, as these angles and communities taught me a lot. I also agreed to give a talk at a TEDx event on education, though I didn’t actually really have the time to do it. But since my younger brother watches one or two TED talks everyday and I want to impress him even if it was just a TEDx thing, I had to say yes.  All this has meant that the big D hasn’t progressed at all. Oh well, there is always next spring…

Also, late summer Nordic Larp won one of the most prestigious awards related to RPGs, The Diana Jones Award. We missed the ceremony with Markus — we didn’t think we had a chance of winning and it was in the States — but they sent the pyramid-shaped prize to us. The only real reason I’m including the image is to push the other award image down; I sort of hate the playful mustache that I have in that image.

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Some Progress and an Award

There is progress with the dissertation. Though most of the time it seems that every answers just leads to new questions just as reading a new books always just underlines how many more books remain unread, it seems that I have most of the articles ready. Before diving into writing the remaining two I am working on the introduction. Luckily the Pirkanmaa regional fund of the Finnish Cultural Foundation awarded me with a six month grant, so I can concentrate solely on the big D until January.

In other news, I was awarded, together with Markus Montola, the Ropecon lifetime achievement award Kultainen lohikäärme (Golden Dragon) for the work we have done in researching role-playing games. Though I find it funny to receive a lifetime achievement award before completing doctoral studies, I am humbled. It is one thing to win praise from the academic community and quite another to be seen as relevant and worthy by the role-playing tribe, who are not only passionate, but often also terribly critical of anything not instantly practical. Thank you.

Photo stolen from mrksaari.

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I held my first Pecha Kucha talk on Saturday with Johanna MacDonald. We talked about Nordic larp and theatre, basically outlining what kind of participation tricks theatre could learn from games.

I love the format where slides change rapidly, you don’t have control over them and the whole thing is over in a few minutes. In the audience you know that even if a presentation is bad, it only lasts for five to six minutes (depending on if you have paid for the lisence for Pecha Kucha or if you are just holding microsessions or lightning talks). Probably my favourite talk in this format was delivered by Eric Zimmerman in GDC09 where he explained a new game, had 400 people play it and then analyzed what had happened in five minutes. A rock star tour de force.

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I just got back from Copenhagen. I attended a seminar on Ludic Aspects of Everyday Life. The seminar was great, but now I’m having a crisis regarding the term play. Damn. On Sunday I still knew what it meant (or at least what I meant by it).

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