Newsgames going forward

Last year I had the pleasure of working together with talented people both from our department and that of Computer Sciences in a pilot project looking into the creation and reception of newsgames. What are newsgames, you might ask, and for a good reason. The seminal book published by Bogost, Ferrari and Schweizer in 2010 keeps the door open for a variety of manifestations (including ponderings on crossword puzzles), but in our project, we focused more clearly on contemporary digital games and game-like interactive data-journalistic experiments.

Now, this spring we are at it again, this time with the local newspaper Keskisuomalainen, with the intention of exploring in practice what newsgames could be and how one could go about creating them. We have three very talented teams working on designs as I write this, ready to pitch their initial ideas to the news organization in our next meeting. We will be keeping a close eye on this project, and try to report the outcomes of this particular type of project-based learning later on.

If you are interested in this particular topic, please contact me and let’s see what we can do together!

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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!