Dr. Outi Kaarina Laiti is a Saami game researcher and designer. Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki Indigenous studies, where she delves into the intersection of education, computer science, and Saami culture in video games and programming. With a primary focus on developing Saami game developers, Laiti has also promoted elderly eSports by coaching a Counter-Strike team. In 2020, she was recognized as one of gamesindustry.biz 's 100 Game Changers for her efforts to make the industry more accessible to marginalized groups. Over the past decade, Laiti has been actively involved in planning game-related projects and organizing game development events in the Saami homeland, Sápmi. She is also a driving force behind Saami Game Jams, co-creating and shaping these collaborative events that foster Indigenous innovation and cultural representation in gaming.

Title of the Keynote:

From Intangible to Tangible: Exploring Saami Game Design in Diehtoárran

At its core, design is about imagining and creating new possibilities– a process of questioning the status quo, envisioning innovative approaches, and shaping the world around us. What transformative possibilities emerge when this design process is fueled with Indigenous intangible cultural heritage?

At the heart of Indigenous game design lies the intersection of participation, agency, and the potential to make a profound impact on the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous cultures. In the Indigenous context, heritage encompasses the cumulative legacy of generations, evolving knowledge and teachings. Indigenous game developers play an increasingly important role in ensuring that this heritage prospers.

This presentation delves into Diehtoárran, an educational Saami self-determined boardgame, through the lens of a game design model proposed in Laiti's 2021 dissertation. Laiti's Indigenous game design model outlines the Saami game development process through fivea spects: storytelling, contemporary experiences, teachings, language, and sharing and developing. Rather than merely highlighting the “what is” of Diehtoárran, this presentation unveils pathways that transform Saami intangible heritage into tangible outcomes and explores the speculative potential of "what could be" in Saami game design.

Niklas Nylund is a researcher working at the Finnish Museum of Games in Tampere, Finland. His PhD Game Heritage: Digital Games in Museum Collections and Exhibitions dealt with digital games from a heritage perspective. Nylund's research interests include games and their history, players and play communities, as well as the societal values and valuations attached to them.


Title of the Keynote:

160 years of Finnish games – a national perspective on the history of board games and their players

Finnish commercial game history goes back to at least 1862, when Hilda Olson first released her bilingual board game Lustfärd till Avasaksa – Huvimatka Aavasaksaan aimed at children. After that, thousands of Finnish board games have been published throughout the years, but their history is little known. In his keynote, Nylund deals with the long history of Finnish board games, as well as their reception and players. Starting out from the 19th century, Nylund guides us through differences in publishers, intended audiences and topic matter, shedding light on early “news games” dealing with contemporary events, games about the Finnish civil war, card play in the early 1900s, war related games from the time of the Second World War, as well as the insurge of foreign games in the 50s and 60s and the influence of Euro-style rules in the last decades.

Dr. Melissa Rogerson is a Senior Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction at The University of Melbourne and Australian Research Council DECRA fellow. Her current research focuses on hybrid digital play and on the design and use of hybrid games for older adults’ life storytelling. A life-long gamer, she was the first woman member of the International Gamers’ Awards jury and the second to be an administrator on BoardGameGeek, has translated award-winning games from German to English, and met her husband at a role-playing game convention. Melissa is a former co-chair of Boardgames Australia and is a member of the Scientific Committee of Game-in-Lab. Her favourite games include Picture Perfect and Terraforming Mars, and she is mostly undefeated at Pack and Stack but is utterly terrible at abstract games.


Title of the Keynote:

Has technology ruined boardgames? 

With boardgames continuing to see massive innovation in mechanisms and components, this talk will examine the role of technology and apps in games. What kinds of technologies are being used in boardgames, and do they just make games worse? Does adding an app, a circuit, a self-propelled robot or an RFID tag change what it means to be a “boardgame”?

Moving beyond trivial attempts to classify games as either “digital” or “analogue”, this presentation looks at the growing influence of technology on boardgames. It will examine how technologies can supplement and build on the player experience of a traditional, mass-market or hobbyist boardgame without destroying something essential to their nature. What does technology offer that boardgames aren’t already doing? And how recent are its influences?

This keynote presents Rogerson’s three-year research agenda examining the use, impact, history, and systems of hybrid games, as well as opportunities to use hybrid technologies in boardgames to deliver new social value. It invites collaboration, insight and inspiration both for new designs and for new ways to look at these often-unwelcome influences.