The Present and Future of Game Studies Symposium Schedule

This is the program for the one-day symposium The Present and Future of Game Studies at the University of Helsinki hosted by HeGRiC – the Helsinki Game Research Collective. Remember to register here!


Morning schedule. 

 10.00: Opening words.

10.15: Matilda Ståhl: Who is possible online? 

10.35-10.45: Q&A

10.45: Derek Fewster: Game studies at the Faculty of Arts, an attempted survey.  

11.05-11.15: Q&A

11.15: Break 

11.30: Ben Cowley: Games, Brains, and Automobiles. (recorded presentation)

/!\ Ben Cowley’s Q&A will be held after lunch /!\

11.50-12: general discussion and information about the afternoon schedule. 


Afternoon schedule. 

13.15: Ben’s Q&A, opening words for the panel/workshop. 

13.30: Panel. Panel speakers: Ben Cowley, Mathilda Ståhl, Jakob Lindström, Pavla Oubret. Chair: Ylva Grufstedt.

14:00 – 14.30: Workshop 1 

    • Identify issues: What current issues can we identify regarding game studies at the University of Helsinki? 

14.30-14:40: Break

14:40 – 15: Workshop 2 

  • Discuss solutions: What kind of actions could be taken to address the identified issues? What are some possible next steps?

15.00 – 15:15: Q&A, closing words.


Below you will find the abstracts for our speakers’ talks, as well as a short biography.


Matilda Ståhl

Title: Who is possible online?

Abstract: What tools for identity construction are available in the multiplayer game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive? How do the young men participating in the study (co)construct identities utilizing these tools? As they are also students taking part in an Esports programme, how is the in-game experience and educational context connected? These centrals questions are central in Matilda’s research and will be discussed in relation to community, diversity and visuality, highlighting implications for possible online identities as well as implications future game-related research endeavors.

Bio: Matilda Ståhl (MEd) is a doctoral candidate in Educational sciences at Åbo Akademi University. Matilda’s presentation is based her doctoral thesis which she hopes to defend later this autumn. One of her supervisors, Hannah Kaihovirta, is based at the University of Helsinki and in parallel with Matilda’s thesis, they further collaborate on research projects focusing on gamification and aesthetic processes


Ben Cowley

Title: Games, Brains, and Automobiles

Abstract: Ludic games are a classic kind of cognitively-demanding dynamic task governed by uncertainty. Yet people learn to perform these tasks with great skill, despite lacking any kind of external reward. Theories like expert performance and Flow purport to explain the phenomenology behind this. And the predictive processing framework provides a way to explain the brain mechanisms that generate the phenomenon. The major lack in our understanding lies somewhere between these two scales, and although phenomenology and neural circuits seem very distant in scale, considering Flow in terms of predictive processing may be a way forward. Here we will look at one study of Flow, learning, and cognitive performance in game play.

Bio: Benjamin Ultan Cowley is an associate professor of AI in learning and education, Faculty of Educational Sciences. Cowley obtained his PhD in Computer Science from University of Ulster studying computer game player modelling, and pursued post-doctoral and habilitation projects on learning, attention, and cognitive neuroscience within the broad domain of human-computer interaction. His group HiPerCog aims to develop our understanding of high-performance cognition.


Derek Fewster

Title: “Game studies at the Faculty of Arts, an attempted survey”

Abstract: The survey presents the traditions and state of Game studies research and tuition within the Faculty, since around 2007. The story is of course not particularly glorious so far, but can display some possibilities for further developments and interests spanning more than the Humanities at Helsinki.

Bio: Derek Fewster is a Senior lecturer of history, with a background in Archaeology as well as Medieval, Nationalism, and Historical culture studies. He is since 2021 responsible for two modules covering “Uses of History and Heritage studies” and “Post-digital culture”, providing this tuition in Swedish for the whole faculty. He is also an avid gamer of both digital and board games.


SAVE THE DATE – Symposium: The Present and Future of Game Studies at the University of Helsinki, 20th September 2021

Feel free to circulate this message among friends and colleagues!


The one-day symposium The Present and Future of Game Studies at the University of Helsinki hosted by HeGRiC – Helsinki Game Research Collective will take place on 20.9.2021. 

The aim of the symposium is to discuss the current state and possible futures of game studies at the University of Helsinki. The day will include talks by invited speakers and round table discussions to explore the questions:

Who is doing game research at the University of Helsinki? What different areas of game scholarship currently takes place at the University of Helsinki? How can the university departments and faculties support game scholars and multidisciplinary approaches to games? What exists, and what is lacking, in terms of seminars and teaching to support students who are interested in/doing game studies? What should happen in game studies at the University of Helsinki in the future?

Detailed program to be announced. More information will be updated on our social media as well.

HeGRiC – Helsinki Game Research Collective is a multidisciplinary network of game scholars at the University of Helsinki. HeGRiC was formed late 2019 to create a local space at the university where game researchers and other interested parties can meet, discuss and work together. The aim of the collective is to facilitate peer-support, visibility and collaboration across disciplines and faculties for scholars who are interested in research and teaching about games at the University of Helsinki.

The event is kindly supported by the ReNew project (Reimagining Norden in an Evolving World) and HYY (Helsingin Yliopiston Ylioppilaskunta).

We’d be delighted if you decide to join us on September 20th!

Homes of Games Research – HeGRiC and Game Studies at the University of Helsinki

Letter of Intent, published in Tekniikan Waiheita.

Abstract: Game studies refers to a multidisciplinary field of scholarly studies of games and play which is establishing as an independent academic discipline in Finland. Helsinki Game Research Collective (HeGRiC) is an emerging network for game studies, based at the University of Helsinki. Its purpose is to increase the visibility of game studies and to facilitate collaboration and expertise accumulation within the University. This essay discusses the origin and goals of HeGRiC as a network to support game studies, discusses the development of game research at the University of Helsinki, and finally, outlines the network’s declarations of intent.

HeGRiC joins Katsomukset in Night of Science 2021!

The annual Night of Science is on the 14th of January in 2021. Hegric joins the science advocate Katsomukset in developing a citypuzzle game for the Night of Science event.

Tieteiden yö - etusivun banneri

Engel’s code – Citypuzzle by Katsomukset 

At night fall the architect Engel drew a map filled with puzzles. Through cobblestones the winding trail of myths circled into the city. Find the forgotten route, unravel the secret path and solve Englel’s code! Find the beginning at the Helsinki Cathedral Unioninkatu side stairs. The game can be played alone or as a group using your own mobile smart device. The first puzzle is given at the start from 17.00 o’clock. Updating info at and here!

Welcome to HeGRiC!

HeGRiC stands for Helsinki Game Research Collective and is a group of cross-disciplinary scholars based at the University of Helsinki. Our aim is to fruitfully pursue the study the intersection of games and other disciplines. The HeGRiC researchers represent a variety of fields, completely in line with our goal to treat games – digital, social, as well as analogue – as dynamic products of cross-disciplinary interests.

The aim of HeGRiC is to facilitate game research visibility, collaboration and expertise locally at the University of Helsinki.

The HeGRiC group is currently focused on scholarly quests as follows:

  • The game studies and historical culture research seminar, led by Dr Derek Fewster. The seminar meets approximately once per month to enjoy guest lectures, research papers and scholarly discussion on the topic of games and the humanities. See the research seminar page for more details.
  • Every now and then we talk about HeGRiC and our research in external contexts. Read or listen to some of it here: HeGRiC Media Presence.
  • Imagining the Nordic – approaches to regionality in video games is a series of research papers focused on discussing the Nordics as represented in games, as well as a regional hub for game-making. This was going to be presented as a panel at cancelled conference DiGRA 2020. Will be presented at a later date.
  • HeGRiC is collaborating, or organizing Events.

If you would like to get in touch with us, feel free to write any of the below listed HeGRiC members. Detailed presentations coming soon.


Derek Fewster

Heidi Rautalahti

Ylva Grufstedt

Lysiane Lasausse

Jakob Lindström