Finland: Nokia & IGDA

Nokia in Finland

In the first of my posts about my recent 5 country cross-media tour, I’ll cover my quick visit to Finland. As I’ve mentioned before, I was asked to give a talk at the Nokia headquarters in Finland on ‘Alternate Reality Games’. It was an overview presentation pitched for designers and business managers (as that was the audience). It was great to meet some of the researchers from the Game Research Lab at the University of Tampere: Frans Mayra, Markus Montol and Jaako Stenros among them and also Hannu Korhonen and Ville Nenonen of the Nokia Research Center. I’ve read alot of material from iPerg and will be chasing up some great papers the Game Research Lab team passed onto me. It was interesting hearing the design issues of the sort of pervasive gaming projects they do. Keeping an ‘alternate reality aesthetic’ or just doing game activities in the real world is a big problem for them because of the issues of game boundaries (in terms of respecting property etc). I recall in the ARGs that were created by students in art design department in Melbourne that they recruited players via the street. This caused problems. It is pretty clear therefore, that it is not a good idea to recruit players using an alternate reality aesthetic (pretending it is real) on the street. When you do it on the street, in person, it becomes a hoax. People treat faux websites differently than people acting…because the cues to fictionality are removed, it becomes a lie. But on the web, it is OK, and, a site can always be checked. It is the conversation AROUND an ARG that provides the fictional cues. A person can go through this fiction-checking process on the web…but not on the street. That is why it is not a good idea to recruit players through the real world. Recruit online and then get them to meet for events.

I also got to meet up with another cyberspace colleague Sonja Kangas at a social for the local chapter of the IGDA. I also met Staffan Jonsson of the Interactive Institute and Annika Waern. I also met a guy who said he worked on the first ARG in Mexico — gotta chase that up.

I found out about an interesting approach to a retail fashion label in the area too, Ivana Helsinki. The store is designed like a house, with ironing boards etc. But what they also offer interested customers is the keys to the store. For two weeks you have the keys to the store and can turn up anytime of day, or night. You take what you want and pay later. I like the idea.

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Mark Ollilia and Elina Kostivisto again too. I should be back in Finland soon…

Photo of the Nokia foyer with the Game Research Lab folk.

The next part of my cross-country tour was the First International Conference on Crossmedia Interaction Design in Sweden. Check out Day 1.