The Durga Puja Mystery: An Educational Video Game about Indian Culture

We are excited to announce the release of our educational video game on the Indian festival Durga Puja. It was developed to target mainly (beginner and intermediary level) students in (South) Asian Studies and Religious Studies but can be used in any other context, as well, as it is easy to play also for persons who don’t usually play video games. The Durga Puja Mystery is a collaborative effort of the University of Helsinki, South Asian Studies, Xenia Zeiler, and the Kolkata (India) based award-winning game development studio Flying Robots Studio, Satyajit Chakraborty. It was funded by the Future Development Fund, Faculty of Arts, and the Digileap Initiative of the University of Helsinki. It is open access and we invite everyone to play. Enjoy!
Please find the press release at:

The player is subjected to educational tasks and investigative puzzles gradually informing about Indian festival culture, taking the example of the arguably most popular festival Durga Puja. During the game, the player will collect various items, including reference books, texts, images and objects, that can help with the investigation and play a key part in winning the game. Simultaneously and as characteristic for educational games, these items introduce to various key themes related to Durga Puja, and support the player in their educational and academic quest. They are selected with the aim to transmit information about and inspire further interest in Indian culture at large.

Please find the game and related info and material (a game trailer, many visuals such as HD wallpapers and screenshots, and context info on Durga Puja, such as current negotiations and debates around the festival) at:

We have been selected as a finalist for Hacking Higher Education Finland 2020!
The final event, with a video pitch from us, is streamed from a studio in Helsinki, Finland on the 16th of September 2020 at 2pm EET (GMT+3).
Social media channels:
Instagram: @daretolearnfin
Facebook event:
Official hashtags: #HHEFinland2020 #HackingHigherEducation

Official slogan: “Changing the way we think about higher education”
Voting for the winner will open one week in advance on the 9th of September. Voting is open for everyone, and the final winner will be chosen entirely by the audience. More information about voting will follow here soon.
If you like the game, this is your chance to vote :)!

A Short update on the DICE MOOC

The MOOC course on Im/migration will be held in the fourth period in the spring term 2021.

The course is available via the University of Helsinki and the Open University for ICE students and also for people working in fields related to Im/migration (MIGRI, Customs, City of Helsinki, schools, day care centres, service sector, private sector etc.).

It is a  part of the University of Helsinki’s Continuing Education –strategy.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, we have chosen to alter the contents of the course somewhat. Despite this, the course will include video material, student discussion and participation, as well as assignments that focus on immigration and emigration issues.

Gamefied Experience

The course will iclude a gamified learning experience on Transcultural Encounters + Diaspora Identity. It supports smart digital learning environments on a macro level. It is a joint collaboration of ICE teachers and award winning game developers. It builds on previous collaboration with the game studio which resulted in an educational video game for the University of Helsinki already – The Durga Puja Mystery.

The planned content is related to transcultural encounters during jointly celebrated festivals (taking the Indian festival Durgapuja in Helsinki as an example), highlighting issues of identity, globalization and diaspora communities. The game presents gamified experiences of theoretical and methodical aspects of migration and transcultural identity via in-game inserted books, texts and other material that need to be used during play. It introduces students to the fast-developing concept and experiences of game-based learning and utilizing game-based environments for teaching.

The game and the course are intended for students in all thematic ICE modules on transcultural processes, globalization and identity.

The course will be available to ICE students online through the MOOC portal.

Everything is open access.

Digital Intercultural Encounters (DICE) project launch

Chinese lunar New Year in Helsinki 2020 c) Tiina Airaksinen

On January 24th  Helsinki hosted a celebration for the Chinese lunar New Year. The year 2020 is the year of the rat. The celebration included everything from festive food, to plays and dancing dragons and lions.

The Chinese New Year also market the launch of the Digital Intercultural Encounters, or DICE for short. DICe is a Digital leap project 2020-2021. We represent the Master’s program in Intercultural Encounters and our project provides digital teaching for the students of the master’s program.

Kansalaostpri filled with lights c) Tiina Airaksinen

We decided to launch our project during the lunar New Year, because it coincides with a part of our project. Our project will produce an educational video game, which has the player delve into one or two Asian annual festivals. Professor Xenia Zeiler is the creative head of this part of our project. One of these festivals may be the Chinese lunar New Year. We decided to take advantage of the festivities in Helsinki and collect photographic material that can be used in the game.

The idea is that the student can move around in the game and interact with different parts of their surroundings. These interactions will give the student information on the festival itself, as well as the wider cultural aspects and traditions that are associated with the festival.

The Year of the rat c) Tiina Airaksinen

The second part of our project focusses on a MOOC course for the students of the Intercultural Encounters (ICE) Master’s Program. The theme of the course is Migration. Our aim is to design a course that has a practical work life focus and allows the students to apply the theoretical knowledge ad expertise that they learn during their studies into practice. The MOOC course is planned for the academic year 2021.