Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A New Farthest North: Two Days With ELVI in Finland

Oulu, Finland

ELVI logoAbout a year and a half ago I gave a workshop on narrative game design in Karlsruhe, Germany. One of the more enthusiastic participants was a guy named Pasi Pirttiaho, a Finn with the most perfect idiomatic English I've heard outside Britain or America. Pasi and I stayed in touch, and a few weeks ago he invited me to apply to be an expert evaluator at on a new project of his in Oulu, Finland: the Environment for Lucrative Virtual Interaction. I'm just back from my first trip. I spent two days evaluating a number of ideas by local students and others who are thinking of setting up game projects and seeking funding. They ranged from the eminently practical to the outrageously ambitious, as such things always do. I gave them the benefit of what wisdom I possess. Sorry I can't talk about them more, though; they're all under non-disclosure agreements.

Oulu is the farthest north I've been so far, at 65 degrees 1 minute of latitude, beating the old record of 62 56 set by Kramfors, Sweden. I actually flew there on the summer solstice itself, and entertained some hopes of seeing the midnight sun. However, Oulu is still not above the arctic circle, and that's where you have to go to see it. Also, it was overcast, so even if I had gone farther north, I don't think I would have had any luck. As it was, it certainly stayed light all night, and the hotel had very thick curtains to keep it out. The picture below was taken at about 10:30 PM.

Photo of dam at Oulu.