Tampere University Game Research Lab is a leading centre for multidisciplinary research into games, play, and their numerous applications. As one of the oldest and largest research groups solely dedicated to games, Game Research Lab researchers have studied the foundations of games, game cultures, as well as contemporary, emerging phenomena such as pervasive games since late 1990s.

Officially established in 2002, the research carried out at the Game Research Lab is based on understanding of the unique cultural and social characteristics of play and games, but it is also future-oriented. Indeed, for more than a decade we have constantly been at the forefront of game cultural developments. For example, we had a research project on gaming in social media the year before FarmVille was launched and one looking at location-based gaming for years before the iPhone arrived.

The interdisciplinary perspective that informs our work is situated at the intersection between humanities, social sciences, and design research. Being able to research how games and play operate both as specific forms of culture and expression, performance and social interaction, as well as produced and designed artefacts and services, enables us to create innovations and knowledge that is highly relevant for research, societal decision making, as well as industry and other practitioners.

The full list of our ongoing and past externally funded research projects currently includes dozens of initiatives that include work that uncovers who plays games, what they play and why, and what kind of forms play and player experiences inform the past, present, and future of games. Our current research themes include, for example, player agency, game production studies, game rules, game jamming in schools, youth gaming, affection with game characters, tabletop games as spreadable media, erotic larp design, free-to-play games, and equity in esports.