The paper sessions are great at FuturePlay, and so are the keynotes. Over the next week or so I will shine the spotlight on the different keynote speakers. Here is a short summary of Frans Mäyrä's upcoming keynote at FuturePlay 2007, his title is"The Role of Digital Play in a Society: The Case of Finland"
During the last few decades, we have witnessed fast-paced changes taking place in contemporary societies, much of them related to the adoption and use of information and communication technologies. Digital games often appear to play a particular role in this development, taking the everyday use of computers beyond the more restricted work-related functions and opening ways for interactive media to become a truly popular cultural, global phenomenon. Yet it is hard to make any precise claims about the exact role computer and video games currently hold in a society. Many of the most commonly quoted demographic figures are produced by entertainment industry organisations and are not based on reliable academic studies. As the methodologies used in producing such core data are not open for peer-review, it is difficult to say whether our perception of games and digital play in a wider societal context is tilted or accurate.
In his Future Play conference keynote professor Mäyrä will present some of the findings from a nation-wide survey carried out in Finland by the University of Tampere Games Research Lab. Focusing on such fundamental issues as how many and what sort of people are actually playing digital games, what kind of playing styles or use of time for gameplay are common among them, and which games are most popular in different age and > gender groups, he will paint a picture of a Western, late industrial society and its involvement in digital play. Mäyrä will also discuss the methodological challenges related to gathering and analysing such data, and point out further directions for study into the socio-cultural research of games and players.