A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to Tampere to act as an opponent in a doctoral defence. Coming from the UK, where a PhD viva involves being asked difficult questions for a hour (if you’re lucky) followed by a quick pint (if you’re very lucky) the formality of a public viva, followed by a cake ceremony, followed by an evening banquet, was a bit intimidating, but not unwelcome. I shall certainly be trying to initiate the post-viva cake ceremony here.
I was invited to oppose the doctoral thesis of J. Tuomas Harviainen, which was based around an hermeneutic analysis of live action role play (LARP) from an information systems perspective. I was also pleased to meet Markus Montola, who successfully defended his doctoral thesis a few weeks before, in the area of role-play and pervasive gaming (Markus is also an author of Pervasive Games: Theory and Design, which – to my shame – has sat, unread, on my bookshelf for the last year).
It’s good to see some really sound and robust research and analysis in a neglected area of gaming, and both of these theses are well worth a read. I think that Finland is definitely somewhere to watch for interesting further developments in this area.