By Rebekah Rousi, Associate Professor, School of Marketing and Communication, Communication Studies
One of my all time favourite movies is Labyrinth (1986), starring Jennifer Connelly (Sarah) and David Bowie (Jareth). The movie is about Sarah searching for her baby half-brother, who has been taken by the Goblin King, Jareth, to his castle. Sarah is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth surrounding the castle. On her journey, Sarah makes several memorable friends. Of these, Ludo an earth troll, who she had rescued from the torturous snapping sticks of goblins, was one in tune with the elements. In times of trouble he would call upon the rocks for help. “Rocks, friends” states the overgrown orangutan look-alike, very similar to the creatures from Maurice Sendak’s (1963) Where the Wild Things Are.
I chose the name ‘Ludo’ here for several reasons:
✨ 1. Because it reminds me of ‘ludic,’ meaning play or playful
✨ 2. Because Labyrinth is a puppet-driven masterpiece that draws on very important questions of our existence, the boundaries between make-believe (or play) and the basic foundations of an ethical existence
✨3. Because Ludo rhymes with ‘Cluedo’ – also a classic from my childhood (a murder mystery) that requires players to figure out the right combination of pieces, matching crime scene to weapon, to perpetrator 🕵️♀️
We’re living in extremely exciting times at VME Interaction Design Environment. There are several streams of research and activity that we are delving into.
We’ve endeavoured to create VME as an open space, a space that breaks boundaries and attracts people regardless of background to engage in the tools, ideations and processes of developing our socio-technological future. This means not only making the environment ‘user friendly’, but making it a site of shared experience regardless of cognitive, sensory or other physical abilities. We are striving to find ways of welcoming diversity into the driver’s seat, and as such, are constantly engaged in searching for new opportunities to realise this mission (please contact us if you have ideas and/or need help).
We’re super excited to have been given the opportunity to host the BUGGED: Emotional Experience of Privacy and Ethics in Everyday Pervasive Systems project, funded by the Academy of Finland (September 2022 to August 2026). Joining our VME family via BUGGED are Ville Vakkuri, Hanna-Kaisa Alanen, and Satu Rantakokko. This fantastic team will be exploring the eerie, eeky and murky in relation to our experiences of privacy and overall ethics in our unfolding everyday reality of emerging technology. While seeming to be at opposite ends of the stick, ethical issues exist at the heart of discovering openness and ways of activating genuinely inclusive modes of future interaction design development. Privacy comes into play from the very moments we reach out to potential innovators to the very products and services we deliver to the community. Thus, we are extremely grateful that BUGGED affords us the opportunity to deeply study and understand the dynamics of factors contributing to our emotional experiences with particular designs, processes and their ethics.
The playful element is a uniting current that moves through every layer of our work at VME. Fun is our work ethic. Learning through laughing is our motto. So, the opportunity to combine forces with the University of Vaasa’s amazing collection of arcade games – one of the largest of its kind in Finland, with many ‘one offs,’ is a dream come true (pardon the cliché). This year we’re organizing the academic seminar of Vaasa Games Days, I Spy! Privacy in Games and Gamification of Privacy (to be held November 22nd, 2022) that connects BUGGED to the games.
We’re just at the beginning of making our way through the Labyrinth. So far we’ve made some amazing and intriguing friends. If you happen to be an overeager gatekeeper like the fox Sir Didymus, a treasure loving troll like Hoggle, or indeed you know how to summon the rocks, we want to hear from you! Everyone is welcome to join our games and more serious exploration of the experiential factors that can help us build a better future through interaction.