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.