Game studies

University of Tampere: Game Studies for Game Changers

European countries are bringing their national programs online, trying to keep children engaged and connected at school through virtual play during a global pandemic; Dota 2 engulfs your mind and soul for the weekend; a Minecraft binding that spanned a decade and 16 versions; Words with friends you’ve never met; stream League of Legends and watch it with 100 million others; families divided by a night of Monopoly; a child sitting alone talking greedily to a doll, a teddy bear and their invisible friend; 2,500 years of continuous, abstract strategic play on a Go board – it is in our most basic nature and essence to be to create states of play for ourselves and with each other.

Rewards? Not always. A shared vision of the game by the players? Maybe you’ve never played “I Spy” with a four-year-old – they see it a little bit differently. Clear strategies? Well, it depends – are we talking game mode or game mode – because they are not the same. Games aren’t as straightforward as you might think, and game studies – the why, how, when, where and with whom of the way we play – are even more complex.

What draws us to games and the way we respond to them is exactly why Karoliina Korppoo found herself doing a Masters in Gaming and Internet Studies at the University of Tampere in Finland after working in the gaming industry for a few years.

“If you want to work with games, find out the motivations behind play and games, and understand what games are in our culture and how all mammals play, is very beneficial,” says Korppoo, now chief designer of the one of the most prestigious in the world. classified town planning games, Cities: horizons.

“I enjoyed combining the academic approach with practical skills and I feel I can do a better job of game design when I read game studies,” she shares.

Source: University of Tampere, Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences

Understanding the nuances of human behaviors and their motivations allows the creation of games like Cities: horizons. The game engages players by allowing them to make their dreams of an interior planner come true, and it keeps them playing by understanding why they want to build in the first place. This level of preview – as much as the hard-coded functionality – is an integral part of the framework that goes into “a game”. This is what allows you to play.

“For some reason, few gaming professionals seem to care about academic gaming studies,” Korppoo recalls. “For me, trying to understand the psychology behind gaming and games is essential in game design. I find the application of theories very useful, and the skills of researching and researching articles are very useful.

While the premise of understanding how humans create and relate to games may seem obvious to some, the University of Tampere understood the opposite and was one of the first leaders – one of the few in the world – to develop a graduate degree in Game Studies. Gaming experts, who understand the deep motivations and complex interactions that guide decision-making and human behavior, can have a powerful impact on education, government and local communities.

Former Spanish students and current researcher in games and doctoral student, Daniel Fernández Galeote was looking for a specialized degree. “It was virtually the only game studies-focused master’s program I found in Europe,” he explains.

“During my master’s stay, between 2018 and 2019, I participated in various projects related to the world beyond university,” he enthuses. “A group and I created a board game to learn about biodiversity themes as part of a course. For a year, I was editor-in-chief of [the gaming information, review and strategy site] PlayLab! Magazine.”

Fernández Galeote can’t help but relate humans, their behaviors, their interactions with games, and with each other as part of his graduation experience – describing how, even in a free college social space, the opportunities for him to observe people in action were numerous: “I took part in the Oasis Keymasters program, which allowed me to be part of a community that takes care of the playful social space at the university, while participating long-term research into what people use it for.

Traveling through Europe, from the sunny, balmy shores of Spain to the (comparatively, very cold) country of thousands of lakes and saunas that is Finland has perhaps been a daunting proposition for some, but Fernández Galeote was intrigued.

“Diversity and contrast are some of Finland’s most attractive features. If you like to play board games with a small group of friends at a cafe, you can. If you are feeling stressed and want to go see a movie or go for a walk in the forest or by the lake, you will not be disturbed, ”he explains.

“If you’d rather go crazy in a student bar or a heavy metal concert, there are plenty of those too. If you like long winters and snow, you’ll have more than enough, followed by months where you hardly ever lose sight of the sun.

It is a poetic and precise summary of one of the most unique countries in Europe, renowned for its independence of thought and spirit – where warm conviviality coexists with sisu – a very Finnish quality which describes the stoic resilience, tenacity and determination of an individual. Students in the Tampere Gaming Studies Program have the full support of their faculty, but have a wide range to pursue independent interests, research insights, and develop their own brand of. sisu.

The University of Tampere will take you to think outside the box, understand the motivations of the people around you and ultimately improve their lives – find out more here.

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