Profile for Harviainen Jussi T > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Harviainen Jussi T
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,798,261
Helpful Votes: 6

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Harviainen Jussi T

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
Multiplayer: The Social Aspects of Digital Gaming (Routledge Studies in European Communication Research and Education)
Multiplayer: The Social Aspects of Digital Gaming (Routledge Studies in European Communication Research and Education)
by Thorsten Quandt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A central stepping stone in multiplayer research, 26 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Divided into five sections, Multiplayer deals with social play in digital games, including the discussions on its potential problems. The authors have included both conference contributions and some additional experts, to good effect. What the volume shines in is its diversity and the authors' desire to contribute significant, well-grounded research on their subjects. This shows in both argumentation and the large lists of references: rarely have I had so few additions I would like to suggest. The writers also seem to be well aware of parallel traditions - this is, for example, one of the few game studies books that bothers to really discuss links between not just immersion and engagement, but also presence.

For me, the high point was T. E. Mortensen's discussion on phasing and time in WoW, which while suffering from some slight inconsistencies probably due to being a combination of two works, draws really well on a broad spectrum of relevant similar phenomena. Many others show really high quality, and the volume would frankly be worth its price for Richard Bartle's sarcastic tone alone. The only text with which I had problems was by Mark Griffiths, and that too was purely because he has been so active in the research of problem play that it seems he is almost constantly citing himself. So there is not really any weak point.

The book, however, is in a way its own worst enemy. Many of the contributions are written in order to further scientific knowledge on their areas, but they are not the last word on any of the subjects. The game examples will mostly furthermore become outdated, even irrelevant after a while. Yet my opinion is that the volume seeks to make itself obsolete, by providing food for thought to other researchers who just might be able to produce that final word. In that, it excells. Right now, Multiplayer deserves its full five stars, for its scope, quality, and especially ability to inspire. It will make a fine university course book for some time as well, although more as suggested reading and not something to be crammed for exams. For the latter task, its level of detail would be somewhat unfair.

Not at all light reading, but all the more useful because of that.


The Ethics of Computer Games
The Ethics of Computer Games
by Miguel Sicart
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Core Book on Digital Game Ethics, 4 Jan. 2013
In The Ethics of Computer Games, Miguel Sicart has succeeded in creating a balanced core work that will form a solid basis of any future discourse on the subject. Using various approaches (value ethics, information ethics, ludic hermeneutics and so forth) he exceptionally well illustrates the key issues of a very challenging area. What struck me as particularly fine is that unlike so many other game scholars, Sicart is always sharp enough to point out where the limits of his analysis lie, avoiding overt generalizations. Likewise, the fact that he is fluently able to combine material that is directed towards scholars as well as parts obviously written for designers makes the book a necessary read for an audience much larger than just researchers. It is also a treasure trove for those interested in facets of game studies other than just ethics, due to its well-grounded nature. The only thing I saw as clearly missing was a Wittgensteinian differentiation between "rules" and "natural laws" and their impact, but as Sicart effectively addresses the issue within his view on how rules may differ, it is not a big omission.

This is a book that should be included in the mandatory reading list of any serious course on game studies or design.


Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, from Chess to Role-Playing Games
Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, from Chess to Role-Playing Games
by Jon Peterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.36

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful in some areas, worthless in others., 26 Sept. 2012
Jon Peterson has written a huge, very ambitious tome. As far as historical data goes, the work is incredibly devoted, including almost-unnecessary minutiae, but there is good reason to include it all, in order to give credit where due and to debunk myths in other places. The author has done a massive amount of work to provide as much information as possible.

However, the minute Peterson starts speaking of the influence of rules on play, narrative, and especially immersion, the fact that he is almost totally ignorant of existing research shows through. I therefore found the book very valuable (5 stars) on some parts, harmfully oblivious on others (barely even one star).

For anything beyond exacting details of the early years, Michael J. Tresca's "The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games" is the weapon of choice. For the precise history of how and why it all began (and that alone), Peterson's absolutely great.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 12, 2012 7:13 PM BST


Using Games to Enhance Learning and Teaching: A Beginner's Guide
Using Games to Enhance Learning and Teaching: A Beginner's Guide
by Nicola Whitton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential guide for educated beginners, 24 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As its subtitle suggests, Using Games to Enhance Learning and Teaching is a beginner's guide. In this case, however, that refers to people who already have teaching experience and who are looking into expanding their methodology to include games. The editors and the authors have done an excellent job at balancing the basics of educational game theory with practical examples, making the book easy to understand yet academic enough to work also as a tool for convincing the more sceptical. Excluding some (in my opinion) slightly too optimistic parts on competition and contextualization, the authors are also wisely critical of what they say, way beyond most proponents of game-based learning and/or gamification.

The examples cases are drawn especially from alternate reality games, so if one is looking for guidelines on just using some games in the classroom, Whitton's own, excellent "Learning with Digital Games" (2010) may be a more suitable starting point. For those looking to create something a bit more all-encompassing, this is your book. Despite its beginner-friendly style, it also offers a fine list of references for further reading, although I must say that given the topics, the absence of some key texts (e.g. Juul's "Casual Games" and Montola, Stenros & Waern's "Pervasive Games: Theory and Design") was something of a surprise.

All in all, Whitton and Moseley have created a very useful volume that should see a lot of use both in the hands of enthusiastic teachers of all kinds, as well as something that should be given to people who are potentially interested in supporting learning games, yet remain wary of them. It presents a very convincing argument on why, how, where and with what limitations game-based learning can be applied.


Learning with Digital Games: A Practical Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education (The Open and Flexible Learning Series)
Learning with Digital Games: A Practical Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education (The Open and Flexible Learning Series)
by Nicola Whitton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, broad introduction., 18 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Learning with Digital Games is a very good introductory book for a difficult subject. This is particularly important as a contribution because on one hand, the theories of game-based learning are still very much under debate, and on the other, games evolve so fast nowadays that any work on them runs a risk of becoming quickly obsolete. Dr. Whitton has to a large extent avoided both pitfalls, by concentrating on the important processes in games rather than too-fixed examples, and by stating clearly both her anchoring in constructivist learning theories as well as clearly presented the key alternatives.

Using game examples that can be found online for free, and assisting those with both solid theory and reminder-boxes that engage the reader, the author demonstrates where and how the use of games - both self-designed and commercial - can benefit student learning. She is keen not to overstep her bounds however, meaning there are very few overt generalizations based on finite data - something one way too often sees in game-based learning publications. And her thoughts on how to assess game-based education and its results are very clever.

This is not a heavily academic work, but rather a practical guide (as stated in its sub-title) well grounded in research. It is therefore easy to read and also easy to use, also for those who are game researchers themselves. The sole problem with the volume, in my opinion, is that it came out at an inconvenient time: The work could have profitted immensely by using material published at the same time or little after, especially in the parts discussing alternate reality games and learning that takes place in MMORPGs. Given that, excluding a couple of special points, it is not in the least incompatible with those, this problem is not very significant. Some more discussion on management games and their like, which share a particularly long history in higher education, would also have been useful for the argument and wider application, but not at all mandatory.

Learning with Digital Games is something that will be of value to teachers interested in using games as tools, even after the example games in it have become mostly obsolete. It is also a good volume to look at for those working with educational games that are non-digital, or are hybrids, because of the easy-to-approach theory sections which are just as relevant for larp or boardgame educators as they are for those using computers. It is light to read, easy to understand and to utilize, yet still paints a solid case, with a very solid theory frame behind it.


Page: 1