Game Slices

I started this blog in 2007 or 2006 with a domain name My purpose for that time was to track my game experiences, slice by slice, one way or another. I do play a lot, even though I don’t think I play as near enough as I should. This applies to most of the game related professionals. Playing games take a lot of time and keeping up with the stream of new games is impossible even for those whose job description is following the game trends.

I have kept a diary of my playing starting with mobile games and recent years to record my experiences with Facebook games. Latter does not have so much relevancy with the work that I have been conducting recently. And then it has a lot. If one studies design and innovation within the games industry – of course it has. But the time I started the diaries, I was not quite sure why I was keeping them. But those are not public. And I feel like it is time for me to continue with the path that I once started. But with smaller steps.

Playing games personally and not only reading about them or watching speedruns or trailers is vital to any researcher on this field I would say. But sometimes I feel that I play games that nobody in my circles actually likes or plays. Or people just don’t talk about these games. And I am have difficulties to find someone to share my passion. I also feel like I am not valued as a customer. Most of my favorites never gets sequels, as they are not enough profitable – if done by bigger studios. They simply have something else to do and bigger bucks to collect.

What kinds of games I like then? That is very difficult to describe shortly. And I am not sure if I really even know that. I try to tell this with the help of examples:

Mirror’s Edge – for its stylistic visuals, sappy sisterhood story and the female protagonist having kind of Leeloo feel in her. This game also set me free from my perfectionist gatherer personality.

Katamari Damacy – for its overall absurdity, Kings tights and his narcissistic and bi-polar personality, rolling & destroying in general as being fun.

WTF – for its absurdity. “Part time job hell” and working for a job demon is just hilarious idea. The game captures something essential in our everyday lives and it was rather amusing to show people what I played: “I just turn these pens into right direction and put a cap on them.” Nobody asked if they could try.

Viva Pinata – for its atmosphere and characters: horstacio is so horsey. For the ridiculous difficulty and me being forced to play with the help of the game wiki without feeling that I cheat. This game made me happy.

Ratchet and Clank – for its humor and media references. And of course for the hilarious weapons.  Playability of this game is in its top. If someone is about to do a platformer – he should reference this.

Bioshock – for it being located in an underwater city. For it’s quality side stories and audio messages. For it being a dystopia to make me think – for it criticizing elitism.

Impossible Mission – for its detailed furniture, characters directability, for its mad difficulty and its puzzles being always different.

And there are many more…

I set up a Twitter account AaKooPlays to record my slices of game experiences. I don’t know where it leads me, but I feel like I want to share what I experience. I know I am not in the mainstream, but I also know I am not alone. Maybe someone will follow me. Maybe I will use them later as notes and for reflection. This twitter feed is also shown on the side of this blog.

Hypermedia Lab summer party and the Lego game

Aww… The summer seems to turn into its cold end… No more holiday, back to work and so on. Happens every year.

Before the summer break, I have been busy with couple of articles and trying to get myself free from work in order to start the holiday. Because of some deadlines I did not make it according to the plan and had to postpone the starting date with couple of days. Well, that happens.

Fortunately we had a nice summer party with Hypermedialab staff right before the biggest crunch. It is our tradition that smaller group of people plans the day in advance and keeps the destination and activities secret before arriving to the destination. This year I accidentally volunteered to the organising team and we came up with an idea of light adventurous hike and camping food (and the sauna after, which was no secret to anybody). 

We ended up to choose “Birgitan polku” near Hervanta and happened to get not-so-nice weather for the day. Fortunately our hiking trip was short and well equipped with sausages and dough for pancakes and our buss fetched us to sauna before anybody got thunderstruck. The evening was spent at enjoyable sauna apartment at Pääskylä. We had two saunas at our disposal: one with extra steam and one traditional smoke sauna, and of course: a lake to swim. The whole place was great to stay and relax: I could have been there much longer than till midnight, even though I fell asleep in between.

As I was one of the organisers, I cannot really say, if lego-game (Assembling the Talisman) that we designed with Mika was fun to play or not, but it seemed to be rather successful (you can judge from the pictures).


Feel free to copy the concept for your own parties:

Put together approximately ten-piece lego construction and give it to one player (the prophet), gather exactly the same pieces and give to another (the constructor). Put two players in between these two to deliver messages from one end to another (messengers). Put another team with the same construction with different coloured pieces and let the teams compete which one is faster to assembly the right combination. Only one player on the team sees the sample piece and only one player can put pieces together or remove pieces. The piece that is under construction, may be delivered to the other end for comparison, but messengers and constructor may not see the sample piece in any case (only the prophet, since it is actually only his/her vision). You can also use more than two messengers in between to make the messages even more difficult to deliver to the other end. See who is good with communication and have fun!

Credits for Mika for this not-too-complicated but yet-difficult-enough 10 piece construction that we tied into the narrative of the evening and called it “talismaani”.

To see more pictures of our wonderful day at Pääskylä, check Katis pics here, or Andras’ pics here.

AaKoo goes Game Journalism

As GameReactor, the biggest Nordic free game magazine came to Finland, I made the decision to work as a volunteer and trying to experience how it feels like to be “on the popularistic side” of game analysis.

So far, I have realized that it is a hard work to produce an opinion and also mediate it in Finnish. As we are used to play games in English, and I read and write about games at my work primarily in English, Finnish words feels awkward. Try for example translating “gameplay” into something else than “pelattavuus” (playability) with just one word…

So far I have made reviews of Endless Ocean, Bee Movie Game and The Sims 2 Castaway (as a review of High School Musical Making the Cut! for Nintendo DS is for a reason still under construction). I have to say that it is not always that pleasant to find out that the game is boring and yet you have to write a relatively interesting article about it. If only the game would be boring enough to make me feel worth expressing it…

I seem to have some kind of perversion to transfer my love for games into suffering and misery… Ok, fare enough: I enjoyed playing Castaway and to some extent that bee-thingy and ocean-thingy as they had their strengths despite their weird weaknesses. Certainly, I would not have played these games that much without the pressure of writing a review of them. However, only true mistake I made was with the Disney Channel licence game of High School Musical. As dedicated to my deeds, I actually even watched the movie thinking that my limit for tolerating teenager/children movies is much higher than for others. So wrong was I. But I made the commitment, so I suffered my time.

The game itself is nothing truely enjoyable and it is not really about being a DS game with low resolution. We all have seen really good DS games. Game just sucks. Sucking happens particular with some cognitive aspects (for example providing understandable feedback to the player about their actions: somebody needs those design heuristics big time) and as a fan product (heuristics of casual game experiences or instrumental value of play, here). Well, ok, you can remember the songs till the end of times after playing the game. Maybe you are then a happy happy fan with the best game ever. Hard to say – we come in so many shapes and colors. But more about it, hopefully soon, in a review at GameReactor