A Multidisciplinary Game Research Network Was Established at the University of Turku


By Finnish standards the unique Up Your Game network will start it operations with a researching the use of games in the advancement of well-being and health.

​​Nearly 40 researchers and experts joined the Up Your Game research network within a few weeks. Jukka Vahlo and Jyrki Korkeila (in the photo) are two of them.

The multidisciplinary digital games research network Up Your Game was established at the University of Turku. The network combines game research from different disciplines and strives to initiate new research on games, gaming and the utilisation of games.

‒ Here in Turku, we carry out very versatile research on the game industry, but there has not been a forum for cooperation before this, says Project Manager Jukka Vahlo from Centre for Collaborative Research which coordinates the network and is part of  Turku School of Economics of the University of Turku.

Game research is very multidisciplinary because the game industry combines cultural and artistic content with technology and business. The Up Your Game network includes researchers from all the faculties of the University of Turku as well as from Åbo Akademi University and Turku University of Applied Sciences.

– On the one hand, it is the strong multidisciplinary nature and, on the other, the societal effects of the games that interest also senior researchers. Professors of psychiatry, information technology, cultural research and economic sciences have joined in the network, says Vahlo.

Are Entertainment Games Suitable for Treating Depression?

The Up Your Game network will start its operations with a research that studies health games. The network is currently applying for funding for the project that researches the use of entertainment games in the prevention and treatment of depression.

– The mechanisms of the entertainment games can at their best exercise the players’ brains in many ways. These effects can be used in the activation and rehabilitation of people with depression, says Professor of Psychiatry Jyrki Korkeila, who leads the research on health games.

In order to have an effect, for example, in the treatment of depression, the games have to be entertaining and fun.

– Some people still say that hooking entertainment games cannot be taken seriously. Like health games could not be too funny. We believe just the contrary: only good games that hook can be taken seriously, even from the point of view of beneficial utilisation, says Korkeila.

The City of Turku Supports the Research Network

With the changing economic structure, there is a regional need for an academic game research network. Jukka Vahlo says that even though the game industry in Turku had a slow start compared with some other regions, at the moment, more new game companies are being established in Turku than anywhere else.

The City of Turku supports the operations of the game research network. Vahlo says that the city perceives the academic science network as a good addition to the game research and development that is carried out in the Turku region.

The Up Your Game research network is open to cooperation and they are looking for new research projects and business partners to join the network. Are you interested? Please contact Project Manager Jukka Vahlo (jukka.vahlo@utu.fi).

Text: Taru Suhonen
Photo: Hanna Oksanen
Artwork: Juha Harju
Translation: Mari Ratia

Created 08.05.2014 | Updated 08.05.2014