Arrived in Tampere around five. The Nordic DiGRA Conference starts tomorrow. This evening it was time for the Finnish Games Then and Now Exhibition produced by Annakaisa Kultima (@aakoo) and Kati Alha.
During the past decades the Finnish game industry has produced a wide variety of multifaceted everyday entertainment. Large media companies and one-man enterprises alike have churned out games ranging from Commodore 64 titles and board games to live action role-playing events and downloadable mobile games. This whole gamut is now available for the public to explore and experience in a unique exhibition where select items from almost a hundred years worth of Finnish games and game design are brought into the limelight. Many of the items on display are also playable!
Among them of course huge ones like Angry Birds, and not so huge but very recognized as Finnish Shadowcities. But there were some news for me as well. I did not know African Star (Afrikan tähti, or as we call it in Sweden: Jakten på den försvunna diamanten) was of Finnish design! For those of my readers who are not Swedish, African Star is a board game, originally publised in 1951, it’s one of those games that everyone have played here. In it is included a bunch of secret tiles with different tresures, oe of them is the diamond African Star, and in almost all well used versions of the game I’ve seen it has tiny bite marks from tiny teeth. Something makes every kid want to chew on that star. My guess is it reminds them of how you treat gold in movies to know it’s real.
The exhibit also tried to claim Mordheim as Finnish because of a Finnish main designer, but I’m not so sure about that one. Even if the gameplay is quite different it’s to such a large extent based on the Warhammer rules that I don’t really think it counts. Dont read me wrong, defenetly counts as a game, and a rather good one, but when adding points to team Finland? Nope!
Other interesting games was a game about Finland during world war one, published in 1918, just months after it happened. There was also a (really old) computer game about fur farms, where you played the farmer, shooting at political activists trying to free your animals. As described, based on a true story, although nobody died in the real incident.
Over all a nice exhibit, with a lot of playable games. Also some nice discussions, among them Jonas Linderoth (
@JonasLinderoth) pushing me to describe and clarify what my thesis will be about. Always a bit hard and scary to turn thoughts into words on the spot, but I think I managed quite well, maybe even cleared some things out for myself (that’s the good thing about words instead of thoughts) and I got some good knowledge back from him. So, thank you for that!
As stated in the beginning, tomorrow the conference starts for real. I will try to get some updates done (but you probably know how bad I am at prioritizing that). Something special you would like me to look for, or someone special you want me to ask something to?
A long day of conference is over. I’ll try to recap it… It’s late already and I’ve been active the whole day, so we’ll see what happens.
Yesterday was the reception party. Some fun stuff and some nice people to talk to. I especially I liked to finally be able to play Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally Okay Now, or for short B.U.T.T.O.N. from Copenhagen Game Collective. I’ve seen it online before and really like how the game rules is moved from the game console out into the social space.
After introduction and a keynote from Eric Zimmerman, today begun with a Ph.D.-workshop on investigating games and play. Two hours of intense work and one minute madness presentations lead to some new thoughts around my thesis. Focus of the discussion was on ludic attitude as not necessarily fun, and why people choose to engage in them anyway. A new angle of thoughts and a new acquaintance is good work for two hours!
Interesting moments in the afternoon was a Panel on Research Practice, and Social Dynamics. In my opinion the focus was a bit to high on how research can be useful for the industry. Not that strange maybe, since thats where a large part of money comes from, but a more pressing issue is how research can function for itself, when industry is such a big part of it and lies so close.
Further a keynote by Reiner Knizia, right after eating lunch with him. Actually I think the lunch gave me more thoughts, it’s quite obvious that he left his research career behind him, but it’s nice to get an inside into how one of the greatest board game designers proceed with his work.
Finally a panel on boardgames and how they are interesting for the game studies. Really interesting, with views from some of the names I relly like (yes, I know, I’m a fanboy when it comes to boardgame design). Afterwords I got to speak a bit with James Wallis, inventor of the Indy Role-Playing Game the Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Münchausen, and Andrew Sheerin, the man behind War on Terror the Boardgame.
Finally a couple of beers with ”the Norwegians”. Nice day, nice evening, long day. Now tired and time to res. There’s a day tomorrow as well…
Yep. After a long vacation (not this long, I’ve been working for some weeks now) I’m back in the office. Still a bit of the summer things left, but the rest is coming along. For the moment working on a new game design, planned to launch in January. can’t say that much about it yet but it’s gonna be awesome! Other things going on is a visit to DiGRA next week, where I will be discussing my thoughts around my Ph.D.-thesis, and hopefully meet a lot of interesting people. The rest for the moment is a couple of papers in its early phases, planning for the game analysis course, and early plannings for a new ethographic play study this spring. In short, a lot of things but really nothing in it’s final stags. And, yes, this is an attempt to get the blog more active again..