Seminar Program Now Available

The Spring Seminar program is now available and can be found here. Once we receive the presenters’ papers after the due date of 25th March 2019, we will send them to all presenters and attendees via email.

Non-presenters who wish to attend the seminar should register by completing this short form. Registration is free.


Keynote Troy Innocent confirmed

Submissions for the 15th Annual Tampere University Game Research Lab Spring Seminar are now closed, and we have selected those to be included in the program. Please stay tuned for a full program and registration details for those who wish to attend but are not presenting.

We are also pleased to announce that in addition to the two commentators, Sybille Lammes and Dale Leorke, the Spring Seminar will also host a keynote presentation from academic, artist and game designer Troy Innocent. Innocent is based in Melbourne and has designed numerous mixed reality, location-based and augmented reality games that blend physical objects with digital interfaces to reimagine everyday urban environments in playful ways. His most recent works include Wayfinder Live, in which players scan urban codes scattered across the host city’s streets to unlock fragments of animation and sound that reveal a hidden narrative; and Accelerando, a “playable art tram” that traversed Melbourne’s roads and played a musical score and augmented reality animation through a companion app.

Innocent’s games and other artistic projects have been performed in numerous other cities around the world, including Barcelona, Bristol, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Singapore, Dublin, Sydney and Taipei. In 2017, Innocent was also awarded the prestigious Melbourne Knowledge Fellowship, funded by the City of Melbourne, to research playable cities in the Europe and U.K. This research continues to inform his artistic practice, coalescing around the concept of “urban codemaking”, which Innocent describes as “a form of psychogeographic wayfinding into the abstractions that emerge from the patterns and flows of a city.” More information about Innocent’s projects and work can be found here.

In addition to presenting a keynote talk at the Spring Seminar, Innocent will also run a new version of Wayfinder Live in Tampere itself. The game will run for approximately one week around the Spring Seminar dates and be open to all residents and visitors of Tampere, inviting them to discover 16 hidden codes throughout the city. To register your interest for the game, please visit this Facebook invite.


Commentator announcement

The Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies at Tampere University is pleased to announce the second commentator for our 15th Annual Game Research Lab Seminar, titled ‘Urban Play’, to be held on April 15-16th 2019. Professor Sybille Lammes will serve as expert commentator for the event, bringing her extensive knowledge and insight on play, identity, mapping and the urban environment.

Sybille is full professor New Media and Digital Culture at Leiden University, and brings a strong cross-disciplinary focus – spanning media studies, cultural studies, critical geography and science and technology studies – to play and games. Her research focuses on the playful potential of digital interfaces and how the ludic affordances of interfaces reshape their users’ mobility, agency, and power-relations. She is the co-editor of several books exploring play and digital mapping, including Time for Mapping (Manchester University Press, 2018), The Playful Citizen (Amsterdam University Press, 2018) and Playful Identities (Amsterdam University Press, 2015). She is also a member of the Playful Mapping Collective, who produced the book Playful Mapping in the Digital Age; and Project Lead for the ERC-funded project Playfields, which created a mobile app for playful fieldwork.

Sybille joins Dale Leorke, who will serve at the other expert commentator on the papers presented at the seminar. Dale is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies. His research interests span the fields of media and communications, urban studies and sociology, exploring how media technologies reshape urban space – from everyday social interaction to the planning and design of cities. He is the author of Location-based Gaming: Play in Public Space (Palgrave, 2018). It is the first book-length monograph to critically examine location-based games from their emergence in the early 2000s to their current widespread popularity through apps like Pokémon Go. His current research examines the intersection of games, play and the ‘smart city’ model.

For more information about the Spring Seminar and to view the call for papers (which remains open until 18th January 2019), please visit https://urbanplayseminar.wordpress.com/call-for-papers/


Call for Papers: Urban Play

Urban spaces offer a rich environment for a diversity of play practices, from location-based games to parkour and from hopscotch to chess in parks. Historically, cities have offered rich affordances for games and play, but in recent years the spread of ubiquitous and pervasive technology has transformed and diversified public play. The extension of ‘smart’ devices and technologies into the urban environment – smartphones, sensors, and automated systems – open up new possibilities for networked play. At the same time, these platforms also control and constrain human movement and behaviour, sometimes unconsciously through opaque algorithms imposed by city authorities or technology vendors.

Play in public spaces became especially visible after Pokémon Go was launched, after which location-based games arose from margin to mainstream. Public play has also become something municipalities encourage, through games festivals and city-funded game projects. But there are also less visible, secret and norm-defying, forms of play constantly taking place. Spontaneous street activities, urban sports, and small-scale games produce micro-level but nonetheless important impacts on the everyday urban environment.

We are seeking submissions from scholars studying different aspects of urban play. In addition to game studies-oriented research, we particularly invite papers that focus on less visible groups and activities which challenge the way we think about public/urban play and which are not necessarily game-related. Prominent work is done in many fields ranging from player studies to design research and from digital humanities to architecture, urbanism, social sciences and beyond. The seminar encourages contributions relating to all types of urban games and play, be they digital, non-digital, or hybrid.

The possible list of topics includes but is not limited to:

  • Playful architecture and urban design
  • Smart city, ludic city
  • Location-based and augmented reality games
  • Histories of play in cities
  • Street sports
  • Playgrounds, amusement parks, stadiums, and other playful spaces
  • Locative educational, tourism, and heritage applications
  • Pervasive larp
  • Representation and discourses around urban play
  • Norm-defying urban play
  • Peri-urban and rural play
  • Representations of the urban in games
  • Playful algorithms of power in cities
  • Digital, hybrid, and non-digital urban games

Urban Play is the 15th annual spring seminar organized by Tampere University Game Research Lab. The seminar emphasises work-in-progress submissions, and we strongly encourage submitting late breaking results, working papers, as well as submissions from graduate and PhD students. The purpose of the seminar is to have peer-to-peer discussions and thereby provide support in refining and improving research work in this area. The seminar is organized in collaboration with the Center of Excellence in Game Culture Studies.

The papers to be presented will be chosen based on extended abstract review. Full papers are distributed prior the event to all participants, in order to facilitate discussion. The seminar will be chaired by Professor Frans Mäyrä, and there will be two invited expert commentators, Dr Dale Leorke (University of Tampere) and another commentator to be announced later. The seminar will be held in Vapriikki, the museum center that hosts The Finnish Museum of Games.

The seminar is looking into partnering with a journal so that the best papers would be invited to be further developed for publication in a special journal issue. In the past we have collaborated with Games and Culture, Simulation & Gaming, International Journal of Role-Playing and ToDiGRA journals.

Submission guidelines

The papers will be selected for presentation based on extended abstracts of 500-1000 words (plus references). Abstracts should be delivered in PDF format. Please use 12 pt Times New Roman, double-spaced, for your text. Full paper guidelines will be provided with the notification of acceptance.

Our aim is that all participants can familiarise themselves with the papers in advance. Therefore, the maximum length for a full paper is 5000 words (plus references). The seminar presentations should encourage discussion, instead of repeating the information presented in the papers. Every paper will be presented for 10 minutes and discussed for 20 minutes.

Submissions should be sent to: gamestudiesseminar@gmail.com.

Important dates:

  • Abstract deadline: January 18, 2019
  • Notification of acceptance: February 4, 2019
  • Full Paper deadline: March 25, 2019
  • Seminar dates: April 15-16, 2019