Joleen Blom

Postdoctoral researcher

Joleen Blom (PhD) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Tampere University Game Research Lab and at the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies. She wrote her dissertation on dynamic game characters, developing a transmedial approach to study their proliferation across popular cultural media, with special attention to the role of games and characters within the Japanese media mix. Currently, she studies mediated intimacy, and players’ affective and parasocial relationships with game characters.

Keywords: Intimacy, player’s affective & parasocial relationships with game characters, Japanese studies, fan studies, porn studies, Japanese game narratology, transmedia studies.




Riikka Aurava

Riikka Aurava (MA) is a PhD researcher at the Tampere University Game Research Lab. She is writing her thesis on game jamming in schools and has a strong background in teaching in the Finnish upper secondary school. Her other interests are the materiality of role-playing games, maker movement, co-creativity, games in education and the gamification of education. 


Leland Masek

Doctoral researcher

Leland Masek is a doctoral researcher in game studies, doing his PhD on playfulness across discipline and culture, as it relates to mental health. He first studied at the master’s degree programme in Internet and Game Studies at Tampere University, graduating in 2020. He is an experimental and live action game designer with six years of professional experience. He also teaches childhood education and mental health through play work.

Keywords: Playfulness, Play, Interdisciplinary research, Multi-cultural research, Mental Health, Positive Psychology

Usva Friman

Researcher, Main Research Coordinator at the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies

Usva Friman is a researcher at the Tampere University Game Research Lab and the Main Research Coordinator for the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies. Her research is currently focused on Finnish women gamers, examining gender in relation to gamer identity and game cultural participation. Her other research interest concerns the intersections between game and sport cultures, including gameful and playful forms of exercise and esports.

Keywords: gamer identity, game cultural participation, women gamers, esports, gameful and playful excercise



Ville Kankainen

Doctoral Researcher

Ville Kankainen is a game designer, and a PhD student in the Tampere University Game Research Lab. He has worked in the lab since 2015. In his dissertation Kankainen studies the relation of online media and tabletop-gaming. His research interests are focused on board game cultures, hybrid play, post-digitality, game design, game based learning and game jams. He has co-written over 10 research articles and has been teaching game studies and game design in several courses. Currently he is working also as a researcher in Aalto University, studying game jams. Since 2018, he has been the main organizer for Ropecon Academic Seminar.

Keywords: Game Studies, Board Games, Hybrid Play, Analog Play, Post-digital, Game Design, Tabletop Games, Game Jams, Game Based Learning


Elisa Wiik

Elisa Wiik is a doctoral researcher in games studies and started at Game Research Lab in 2019, after graduating from the MDP in Internet and Game Studies in 2018. Her doctoral dissertation topic is lapsed players. In her free time she writes game reviews to Mikrobitti and volunteers as part of the program teams in conventions such as Finncon and Tampere Kuplii.


Keywords: player studies, lapsed players, transmedia, science fiction

Elina Koskinen

Doctoral researcher

Elina Koskinen is a doctoral researcher in game studies, doing her PhD about memorable player experiences in Pokémon GO. She first started at the Game Research Lab in 2014 as a research assistant in Free2Play -project. Elina spends her free time volunteering in different game related associations, like IGDA Finland, Finnish Game Jam ry and Academic Gamers.

Keywords: game user research, player experience, free-to-play games, location-based games, augmented reality in games, Pokémon GO


Google Scholar:


Mikko Meriläinen

Postdoctoral researcher

Mikko Meriläinen (PhD) is a postdoctoral researcher working at the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies at Tampere University’s Game Research Lab. In his research work Meriläinen focuses on questions of youth gaming cultures, gaming-related parenting, miniaturing, and game jam learning. He is a frequent expert commentator in the public discourse around young people’s gaming, and educates both parents and professionals on gaming culture issues.

Keywords: Youth gaming, game jam learning, game-related parenting, problematic gaming, Bildung, miniaturing

Email: mikko.merilainen [at]



Twitter: @MVMerilainen


Heikki Tyni

Post-doctoral researcher

Heikki Tyni, PhD, is a post-doctoral researcher at Game Research Lab in Tampere University, Finland. His work has covered various topics related to digital games industries, including the formation of the Finnish game industry, material aspects of the digital game culture, and various business and production models for games. His doctoral dissertation examined the political economy and audience reception of games crowdfunding trough an interdisciplinary approach.

Keywords: Game industry, industry structure, production studies, crowdfunding, game retail

Jaakko Stenros

University lecturer

Jaakko Stenros (PhD) is a game and play researcher who has published nine books and over 50 articles and reports. He has also taught game studies for a decade. Stenros’ research interests include norm-defying play, game jams, queer play, role-playing games, pervasive games, game rules, and playfulness. His work has received many awards, such as the prize for the best dissertation of the year at the University of Tampere. Stenros has also collaborated with artists and designers to create ludic experiences and has curated many exhibitions at the Finnish Museum of Games. University of Turku has awarded Stenros the Title of Docent in 2019 in Game and Play Studies.

Keywords: pervasive games, role-playing, role-playing games, larp, social games, sociability, party games, player experience


Olli Sotamaa

Olli Sotamaa

Associate Professor

Olli Sotamaa is the co-lead of the Game Research Lab and the director of Master’s degree programme in Internet and Game Studies. He completed his PhD on players’ productive practices among computer game cultures in 2009. His publications cover user-generated content, player cultures, player-centred research methods, and cultural and historical analysis of game industry. Sotamaa has published in and edited special issues for several scholarly journals including Convergence, Fibreculture, First Monday, Games and Culture, Game Studies, International Journal of Arts and Technology, and Simulation and Gaming.

Keywords: Game development cultures, co-production, creative labour, user-generated content, player cultures

Jani Kinnunen

Jani Kinnunen started at Game Research Lab in January 2007. Since then he has been working in numerous reserach projects on gambling and games in social networks. His background is in social sciences and especially in sociology and media culture.

Keywords: gambling, social networks, social games, online communities

Kati Alha

Kati Alha has been at the Game Research Lab since 2008 and she is one of the first researchers there who graduated from Hypermedia Master’s Degree programme. On her free time she uses her time in gaming, reading, watching movies, and collecting games and game consoles.

Keywords: free-to-play, social network games, game history, innovation

Frans Mäyrä


Frans Mäyrä, PhD, is the Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, with specialization in digital culture and game studies in the University of Tampere, Finland. He has founded the University of Tampere Game Research Lab, and is the director of Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (Academy of Finland). Professor Mäyrä has taught and studied digital culture and games from the early 1990s. He is widely consulted as an expert in socio-cultural issues relating to games, play and playfulness. His research interests range from game cultures, meaning making through playful interaction and online social play, to borderlines, identity, as well as transmedial fantasy and science fiction.


Maria Alaoja
Inger Ekman – publications
Laura Ermi – publications
Juho Hamari
Martin Harmala
Sabine Harrer
J. Tuomas Harviainen – publications
Satu Heliö – publications
Mika Isomaa
Anu Jäppinen – publications
Aki Järvinen – publications
Kirsikka Kaipainen – publications
Kirsi Pauliina Kallio – publications
Tero Karppi – publications
Juho Karvinen
Lauri Keronen
Jonna Koivisto
Jussi Kuittinen – publications
Annakaisa Kultima – publications
Juha Köönikkä – publications
Jussi Lahti – publications
Petri Lankoski – publications
Tero Laukkanen – publications
Miikka Lehtonen
Joe Macey
Mikko Malinen
Tiina Malinen
Markus Montola
Johannes Niemelä – publications
Jani Nummela – publications
Timo Nummenmaa
Janne Paavilainen
Eetu Paloheimo – publications
Erkka Rautio – publications
Hannamari Saarenpää – publications
Tuuli Saarinen
Tanja Sihvonen – publications
Mikko Svartsjö – publications
Jan Švelch
Antti Syvänen – publications
Saara Toivonen – publications
Chienting Weng