I have been a Master of Social Sciences (abbreviated to VTM here in Finland) from the last summer. The journey of 10 years with a specific interest on thought experiments as a method for philosophy (and science) ended into a Finnish master’s thesis where I reported my findings on the subject matter. I can never say that I actually was finished with this issue though.
The topic was never easy, and it doesn’t cease to interest me these days either. I am eager to find out how the area is evolving further.
But the burden of heavy philosophical arguments and deep waters of pure mind games is now officially come to an end from my side. I don’t think that I am able to ever dive into that deep end of science any more or at least not as intensively as I have been. But as they say: never say never. There are definite links with design research and game research with this meta-philosophical topic…
If you are interested, the thesis is available here, but unfortunately I have to inform you that in order to really understand it, you need to master Finnish and possibly also basics of philosophy. As a good reference in English, you can always start on reading Sören Häggqvists dissertation from year 1996. I follow the same lines in many respects with him.
Alhough the GameSpace project has been officially come to an end; we are still working with the last pieces of the project and putting things to final touch. Upcoming research report is under its way, there are plans for closing seminar and I have been continuing with some of the topics in another project (GAS).
But also our last conference paper is about to be published under ACM digital library: Janne, GameSpace project manager, is currently at Toronto presenting our paper “Designing Game Idea Generation Games” at Future Play 2008 conference. The paper is similar to our Meaningful Play conference paper, but the emphasis is on the design process and challenges that we faced with our idea generation games. I will publish the link to the paper in ACM, as soon as I will get information about it.
Meaningful Play 2008 conference proceedings are now available at http://meaningfulplay.msu.edu/proceedings2008/ along with our paper “User Experiences of Game Idea Generation Games”.
Here is the abstract:
User Experiences of Game Idea Generation Games
Annakaisa Kultima, Johannes Niemelä, Janne Paavilainen and Hannamari Saarenpää
In this paper, we introduce three idea generation games designed for the use of game designers and discuss about the feedback they received while used in the authentic production settings. Three games designed especially for generating game ideas were developed in the GameSpace project that studies methods for design and evaluation of casual mobile multiplayer games. According to our experiences, games can be considered as successful devices for idea generation. Game-based idea generation techniques provide an easily facilitated, focused but playful setting for coming up with new ideas. We would like to share the feedback of our games in order to inspire others to create similar tools for generating innovative ideas in the field of games or other industries alike.
I presented a paper at Meaningful Play 2008 conference in East Lansing, MI, USA concerning the game-based idea generation tools that we have developed in GameSpace project and especially the experiences designers had with the idea games in our pilot study. The presentation slot was quite short (15 min. for the presentation, 5 min. for discussion) and I had to rush my 20+ slides, leaving so many interesting things out. But what I tried to concentrate at was introducing our games and discus why they were so popular, despite their flaws. The presentation and the paper are not identical, as I added some new thoughts that I am working on into the slide-show. Papers will be available online later on, here are the slides:
The presentation background is taken (and modified) from the GameSpace Tool that we have been working on the last weeks of GameSpace project. The tool will popularize the whole range of research findings from our project. We are going to announce the tool later this year, as soon as it is ready!
One of the reasons I have been rather blog-quite after GDC is that our GameSpace team has been responsible for organising our Game Research Lab annual spring seminar. This year’s topic was “Breaking the Magic Circle”; we received large amount abstracts, welcomed over 50 participants and enjoyed loads of discussion in the actual event ending today.
Interesting palette of 17 working papers were presented during the two-day event including different theoretical approaches towards the very concept of “magic circle” originated from Johan Huizingas Homo Ludens as well as more practical applications revolving around this notion. There was talk about fictionality, social play, evolution, serious games, apophenia, pervasive games, law, society, monkies, flickr games and even applying game design principles for designing organizational experiences just to name a few. Even more interesting discussions were done during the breaks, lunch, yesterdays evening venue at our lab and hopefully tonight as well after the sauna.
Our own paper was discussing the design process of our idea generation games and the usefulness of magic circle that games can provide for fostering the idea generation. Hopefully we get this paper published as soon as possible. There is still some work to do.
Frans Mäyrä, as being the chair, already managed to start the picture stream at Flickr. The first picture of the stream, which is also presented at Frans’ blog entry includes me too in my blueness. I am not sleeping… I was chatting at #breakingmagiccircle with my phone since my mac refused to continue without power.
Here are the slides of our presentation:
I have been rather busy with travelling and starting up the idea generation study from the middle of September till now. The craziness ended last Monday when I arrived from Toronto, Future Play 2007 conference where we presented our “Casual Games Discussion” paper and “Creativity Techniques in Game Design” poster. It took me more than a week to recover from the jet-lag. It’s like Japan all over again. Well, some of the jet-lag problems must have been due to the lag of sleep that I gained in Northern Game Conference in Oulu, week before that.
Future Play 2007 conference was actually my second trip to Canada, since in September as I travelled to Seattle and Microsoft, I spent one day over border in Vancouver with Play New team playing our idea generation games.
In between these two I have been completely busy on putting finishing touches to our idea generation package that was sent for GameSpace industry partners. As we delivered the packages, we conducted pre-interviews with Hannamari Saarenpää and Johannes Niemelä and even though we have not have time to analyse the data, I have to say that we are holding a valuable piece of information. 🙂
We presented a working paper at the Gamers in Society -seminar (18th of April) about casual games discussion. The main point of the paper is that the discussion over casual games industry is confusing and lots of stuff is included in to the definitions of that “genre” and everything going around it.
For the sake of the clarity needed in academic studies, we introduced in our paper several different meanings to “casual IN games”: casual games, casual game player, casual gamer, casual playing and casual gaming. This is a tentative terminology to start with when trying to understand the casual “phenomena” and designing in a wider sense than “small, easy and simple games”.
The feedback to the paper was mainly positive. Among other participants of the seminar, Daniel Pargman and T.L.Taylor, that were invited to comment all the papers in seminar, gave some interesting viewpoints to the editing our paper. Daniel Pargman was seeking for more conclusive view on casual (maybe our own definition), not only presenting the terminology and the problematic discussion whilst T.L Taylor seemed to be more interested on editing the paper closer to discursive analysis of the “talks” on casual. Some other participants, like Alex Thayer from Microsoft liked the effort that we had made on clarifying the discussion and seeking synthesis. Also Ulrich Tausend from Ludwig Maximilian University (Munich) pointed that there is no need for yet another “casual games are this and this and this” analysis and thanked our paper for taking the notion further. Still it seems that the paper needs the revision of clarity in the points made and methods used.
Same kind of message came from Eric Zimmerman, who kindly read and commented our paper (outside the seminar context). More clarification it is then…
At the moment we are editing the paper (shortening and firming up the argument) and hopefully it will be available for public soon.