Friday, April 23, 2010

Words of Introduction

So, I graduated to M.Sc yesterday from the University of Oulu, Finland. It took me a few years longer than I had hoped, but the timing ultimately got me to where I am now. My studies were rather technically oriented, somewhat heavy on math, signal processing and digital architecture, so I find it rather curious that I ended up doing my master's thesis on usability and user interfaces. Of course, my next step is to start post-graduate studies, on usability.

Game design on the other hand has been one of my driving interests since about fourth grade when I did my first attempt at making a role-playing game rule system, which was sadly (or maybe fortunately?) never finished. Of course, back when I applied for university, game design education was non-existent, so I just thought that I might as well pick up programming. So I did. Now, the good part: with my post-graduate studies, I'm suddenly in a position where I can put to use my technical knowledge, my game design practice and my usability studies.

We haven't decided yet on the exact topic of my doctor's thesis. My research field is designing user experience for interactive spaces*. The title of the blog comes from the following hypothesis: game design and games in general are far better at attracting users to new experiences than traditional applications, so in order to improve the total user experience, games and game-like elements need to be included in user experience design. The research will include games that experiment on new types of user interaction, as well as user interaction with game-like properties.

And that's what it's all about.

* Interactive spaces is a term used in our research group. It falls into the same category with ubiquitous computing and intelligent spaces, but with the term we wanted to emphasize user interaction. The whole point of an interactive space is that people, the users, engage in interaction with the space, and with each other inside the space.

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