Finnish game-professor forecasts boom for network games

Share Article

Up until today, FinlandÂ?s Northern city of Oulu has been recognized mainly for its strong efforts to boost mobile phone technology research and knowledge in the region. Now a further step is being taken in specialization, as a new computer and mobile game expertise cluster is being built in the area, which bases its knowledge on research provided by the University of Oulu.

Up until today, Finland’s Northern city of Oulu has been recognized mainly for its strong efforts to boost mobile phone technology research and knowledge in the region. Now a further step is being taken in specialization, as a new computer and mobile game expertise cluster is being built in the area, which bases its knowledge on research provided by the University of Oulu.

In February a further step toward computer and mobile gaming expertise was taken when the Department of Computer Science of the University of Oulu, Finland, examined a dissertation submitted by Game Researcher and Master of Science and Technology, professor Tony Manninen, titled “Rich Interaction Model for Game and Virtual Environment Design".

The dissertation of 34-year-old Tony Manninen is of great use when, for instance, developing new games and creating new virtual environments for them.

“The most delicious game experiences nowadays arise through data networks in network games, in which opponents are not actually physically located nearby. One reason for this is that this provides players with an element of surprise and unexpectedness, because humans could make moves, which are impossible for any machine. Similarly, the sense of winning or losing increases, when the opponent is a group of people rather than a machine," Tony Manninen says.

The dissertation of Manninen focused on supporting and improving interactivity in network games, i.e. those that are played by groups of people rather than alone, and virtual environments.

“Computer-created virtual worlds and gaming environments give the ability for instance to socially interact, no matter what the geographical location is. In order to boost such interactivity, further research is needed in the area of exploring how game and virtual environments should be planned," Manninen said.

According to Manninen, problems related to coordination, cooperation, and communication are still a part of network games and virtual surroundings, because the element of interactivity between individuals (players) is not sufficiently supported.

Therefore the gaming experience is often left limited, without any deeper sense of interactivity between players. To improve the situation, Manninen calls for the need to boost such interactivity, to improve the feeling of social interaction.

According to the work of Manninen, network games and virtual environments could be enhanced by means of speechless communication such as facial expressions, appearance, and voice, i.e. ways that provide additional information on the individual players.

Finland scores well in the game record

In his doctoral thesis, Tony Manninen developed a new model for improving social interactivity between players, which is suitable when creating news game and virtual environments.

With the instructions provided by Manninen, game houses and application specialists could for instance create more versatile and satisfying game experiences as players are capable of expressing themselves more freely, even when the game surrounding is a computer or mobile network.

“In the future, game devices could be equipped with an ever growing degree of high technology. One of the most remarkable innovations of this decade is for instance so-called feature recognition, which brings playing games to a totally new level," Tony Manninen said.

The market for computer and console games is continuously expanding, and therefore many companies are trying to grab their own share of the cake.

“Max Payne and different types of rally games show that quality could be found in Finland, if game developers are only given the chance. Currently Finland has a great reputation globally, when it comes to developing new games," Manninen said.

Mobile games open new opportunities

The world has changed to such an extent in the past couple of years that many carry along with them a game device, nearly continuously. However, games developed for such mobile phones are still at their infant stage.

“The mobile phone is one good gaming device, but the problem is that the games developed for them are inappropriate in the sense that they have been initially developed to be played with other types of devices. I believe that a closer look should be taken on what functions could be added into mobile phones. Games, which for instance focus on mobile phone positioning, can open up entirely new doors for the gaming market," Manninen added.

Tony Manninen will be a key contributor to the new game cluster, which is being built in Oulu.

“If you’re courageous enough, there is a good chance to step into the global arena from Oulu. Knowledge could be increased further by training, education, and networking. The basic building blocks could already be found in Oulu, and within a couple of years a few local companies will become globally recognized," Manninen said.

“Games are still an unexploited resource, because only around 1 percent of that area has been utilized. There is still plenty of research to be done for instance when it comes to searching ways in which games could be utilized and what types of games can be developed. Current game ideas haven’t changed much in the past 20-30 years," Manninen criticizes.

Albeit, Tony Manninen plans to focus on playing more games now that he has completed his doctoral thesis.

“I plan to plan to spend even more time playing games, because it’s totally impossible to be a skilled game developer if you don’t have the practical experience," Manninen said.

Petri Vuorimaa, professor at the University of Technology acted as the opponent of Tony Manninen’s dissertation, while Petri Pulli, professor at the University of Oulu performed as chairman of the public examination of the dissertation.

For an English language version of the dissertation:

http://herkules.oulu.fi/isbn9514272544/

http://www.tol.oulu.fi/~tmannine/

tony.manninen@oulu.fi

tel: +358 40 766 0420

This material has been produced by Oulu Regional Business Agency

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Paavo Vasala
WASALA COMMUNICATIONS
+358 500 586737
Email >