Game cultures in Finland – research continues

This June we received word that our large consortium (Universities of Turku, Tampere, and Jyväskylä) received funding for several years to continue research on the changing face of games and culture in Finland (the previous consortium operated under a bit different name but with a similar constellation. More info here). The consortium is funded by the Academy of Finland. Here in Jyväskylä there will be four to five people involved, myself included.

This is really good news, not only because it pays a part of my salary for the next years, but especially because the “ludification of society” is a real trend that deserves our attention. From gaming and health to the ever-expanding uses of play and games in education, there are so many promises (and pitfalls) related to “gameful” or “playful” thinking that they definitely need to be carefully looked at.

Related to this topic, I have been asked to work as a member or the advisory board for a project at the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences. This project, called Pelaten terveeks? (yes, with a question mark) looks at the possibility of utilizing gameful design or game-like approaches in areas such as mental health care, etc. It is a really interesting and ambitious project. At the same time I am happy to be able to say that the advisory board has their feet firmly on the ground. We can believe that there is something there in these playful approaches, without fully submitting ourselves to unwarranted optimism and hype about “gamifying” healthcare. The project goes on until the autumn, when they will have a larger symposium on the subject.

All in all very interesting times ahead, again!

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New blog – a research project on newsgames

I just launched a new blog centering on a research project called The Impact of Gamification on Journalism. The purpose of that blog is to document the proceeding of the research project, as well as to operate as a repository of links, literature, and all good things that a project needs! The blog will be in Finnish only, though, as its main target audience is local. Publications and conference participation will anyway be mostly in English, so I thought that I could serve the journalists and students here in Finland with this choice. I don’t mind using English (it is my primary working language after all), but I have to say that it is really, really important to be able to communicate about research-related issues in Finnish as well. This is a tremendously small language area, and we should make sure we don’t neglect it totally.

There will be at least one, perhaps two, co-hosts working on the blog with me. It will be interesting to see how it shapes up, and how much such a blog can support the sharing of interesting cases, literature, etc.

Here’s to hoping that the blog succeeds in reaching the goals I have set it!

General purpose for changing a game (your life)

I was recently reading through Bernard DeKoven’s seminal book The Well-Played Game: a player’s philosophy, while searching for a clarification on a quote for a book chapter I am writing, when I encountered something worth sharing. First of all, the book is from 1978, and the copy that our university library has is not only dog-eared but actually broken – the cover is loose and the book holds together only with some rubber band (helpfully provided by the said university library). Well, as you can imagine, old books like this often contain notes scribbled throughout their pages, marks of long-gone students who have once tried to make points worth remembering. It was one such a note that I am now talking about. On pages 67-68 of the book there is a section titled “General Purpose for Changing a Game:” Behind this title some industrious student had made a small addition, and it is with this addition that I now present you a quote that can change your life (or at least advice you on how to go about changing your life).

General Purpose for Changing a Game: (Your Life*)

The one you’re playing is no longer giving you enough of a challenge for you to feel you want to play it well. ou can play it well, but you’re losing interest. Your gaming mind is bored. You’re not playing the way you want to be playing. Or, vice versa, you can’t play it well, the challenge is too big, your playing mind is overwhelmed, the game is too hard. The general purpose for changing a game, therefore, is to restore equilibrium.

Specific Recommendation for Technique:

Change one rule at a time. Change the rule and see what happens to the rest of the game. See what other changes you have to make in order to restore the balance. If you try to change too many rules, and the game doesn’t work, you won’t be able to tell why.

(* Student addition)