Material Culture and Angry Birds

Heikki Tyni Sotamaa Olli
2014 DiGRA Nordic '14: Proceedings of the 2014 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

The article examines different ways in which the research of material culture is relevant for digital games. It is argued that despite the wide adoption of digital distribution, material culture still registers as a significant component of the overall gaming culture. The paper compiles a collection of different research areas relevant for the study of games and materiality. In order to better contextualize the different research approaches, the framework is applied to Angry Birds (Rovio 2009). The different approaches, ranging from platform studies and political economy to merchandizing and collecting, highlight how a seemingly small, digitally distributed mobile game still manages to connect with multiple facets of material culture in significant ways.


The Long Decade of Game Studies: Case of Finland

Sotamaa Olli Suominen Jaakko
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Given the young age of game studies, the recent history and development of the field remains largely unstudied. This paper takes a closer look at 34 games-related Finnish doctoral dissertations published between 1998 and 2012. The metareview explores the diverse starting points scholars have taken to study games during the years. The results show that instead of any particular national focus, the studies rather connect to topical international discussions and debates. While a trend towards acknowledging an autonomous discipline can be identified over the studied period, the studies also contribute to a variety of other fields.


All The World’s A Botfighter Stage: Notes on Location-based Multi-User Gaming

Sotamaa Olli
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

This paper investigates some aspects of how location-based game concepts are challenging the traditions of gaming. The initial hypothesis is that location-based gaming that utilizes city space as a game board seem to be in conflict with the classical definitions of 'play' and 'game'. The nature of pervasive gaming is investigated in relation to different levels of mobile use and the social construction of urban space. The routines attached to mobile phones are mainly connected to interpersonal communication but also include certain 'play with location'. Therefore a mobile phone, regardless of its interface limitations, suits quite well the location-based multi-user approach. I also argue that playing in familiar real world locations brings new nuances and meanings to these places. On the other hand some elements of real life can take part in shaping the entire gaming experience.


Commoditization of Helping Players Play: Rise of the Service Paradigm

Stenros Jaakko Sotamaa Olli
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

The paper provides a cultural and economic background for the rise of the service paradigm in the realm of games. Both the complicated relation between products and services and a variety of contemporary examples are examined in order to develop a detailed understanding of the ecology of games-related services. From mapping the current situation we move on to create a particular player service model. The model is created both to help analytically dissect what player services are and to pinpoint some blind spots in current service design. The model can be further used to rethink the current industry ecology and to potentially find entirely new semi-independent service domains.


Perceptions of Player in Game Design Literature

Sotamaa Olli
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

Few studies have examined the role of players in game design. The objective of this paper is to provide some clarity on the issue of player-centred design by analysing the notions on player in current game design literature. This research also discusses the potentials a multifaceted approach on players can offer for the design of games. The article starts by analysing different approaches on player from abstract ideal player to player profiles and players as co-creators. Later, the benefits of involving players in different phases of design process are examined. As a result the paper produces a grouping of different designer-player relationships that reflect the different design ideologies and traditions. This article contributes to the new field of game design research by producing clarity to some of the inarticulate and ambiguous issues related to the role of players in games and their design. At the same time, the analysis is relevant to the larger understanding of players as game cultural actors.


Of discs, boxes and cartridges: the material life of digital games

Toivonen Saara Sotamaa Olli
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

So far the field of game studies has mostly bypassed the everyday meanings attached to the material manifestations of digital games. Based on qualitative survey data, this article examines what kind of personal and collective values are attached to the physical copies of games, including the storage medium and packaging. The results show how materiality resonates with the reliability and unambiguity of ownership. Furthermore, games as physical objects can have a key role in the project of creating a home, receiving their meaning as part of a wider technological and popular cultural meaning structure. Finally, collecting associates games with more general issues of identity, sociability and history. Through storing and organising games and having them on display, gamers position themselves as part of game culture, gather subcultural capital and ensure the possibility for nostalgia.


“Have Fun Working with Our Product!”: Critical Perspectives On Computer Game Mod Competitions

Sotamaa Olli
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

This paper suggests that the digital games industry products are not limited to games-related hardware and software or the related spin-off industry products. Further, consumers “labour” with games is transformed into a product that is sold to advertisers and sponsors. In case of gamer-made modifications, this commodification of leisure is taken into extreme. It is obvious that the cultivation of unpaid modder labour necessitates different methods than the traditional forms of labour. It is suggested that mod competitions are used as a strategy of control over the hobbyist developers. Through competitions modders become interpellated as important members of the industry and simultaneously end up surprisingly comfortably harnessed. Finally, the paper suggests that the competitions that offer an attractive means to monitor the mod scene, paradoxically also work against industry’s advantages by revealing the laborious nature of computer game development to the hobbyists.