Team behind ORE

Last name in alphabetic order

Matúš Adamkovič (PhD) is a postdoc researcher in ORE, interested in the methodology of behavioral research, meta-science, and the network approach to psychological phenomena. Matúš has previously worked on many projects at the University of Presov, Slovak Academy of Sciences, and Charles University. The projects include topics such as biobanking, mental health, poverty, psycho-oncology, and large-scale cross-cultural collaborations/replications. He is a huge supporter of open science practices and a co-founder of the Slovak Reproducibility Network.

Tasks in ORE: methodology, responsibilities of data & analysis in Slovakia. 

Positionality statement

I was born in Slovakia in the early 90s and come from a humble background. From a young age, I was interested in science, complexity, fantasy, and sports. Although I didn’t have many friends (and was by far the youngest in the group), I spent my childhood and early teen years playing outdoors. We usually played football, which I also played competitively on a high level and later became a football freestyler. When I was about 12–13, I had become extremely interested in how our minds work and what are the factors driving our behavior. Rather than interpreting single cases, I wanted to “study” (without always understanding) the bigger picture and patterns of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. I obtained my MA and PhD in psychology by specializing in quantitative approaches with a special focus on replicability, meta-science, and open science.

Gaming disorder. I’ve played games since I was a kid. My older brother (an active gamer still today) introduced me to computers and games. I remember playing on Atari, especially Spellbound and sports games. After a few years, we switched to a PC with Windows and PlayStation 1. I grew up playing the likes of Heroes of Might and Magic, Gothic (my favorite at the time), Thief, Warcraft, Age of Empires, Icewind Dale, Far Cry, DOOM, Crash Bandicoot, and NHL. Later on, I kept playing roleplaying games (e.g., The Witcher, Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, Assassins Creed) and FIFA, occasionally supplementing them with strategy games and first-person shooters. I’ve always considered gaming as a leisure activity and have almost never played competitively. I also think I’ve never really endorsed any pathological pattern of gaming. Nowadays, unfortunately, I play videogames very rarely. Being able to study gaming (disorder) with my colleagues makes it a truly enjoyable part of my academic career. At the moment, I’d say that it’ll take several years of rigor and systematic research to better understand, conceptualize, measure, diagnose, and treat gaming disorder. A combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches and methods (iteratively complementing each other) is very much needed in order to achieve this.

Tiina Auranen (MA) is a doctoral student in ORE at the University of Jyväskylä. She comes from a background of clinical psychology. Having worked several years as a school psychologist on different levels of education, Tiina is bringing along expertise in how adolescents make sense of their world. In addition, Tiina has worked on a school-related project at the University of Turku, where she also graduated. Tiina is interested in contributing to the understanding of the role of video games in everyday life and well-being of adolescents. She takes a long-standing interest in cross-cultural as well as cross-disciplinary issues.

Tasks in ORE: responsibilities of data & analysis in Finland 

Positionality statement

Growing up in a smallish Finnish town, my life revolved around school, outdoor games, nature, making music and immersing in written word. As for gaming, I recall from my childhood an odd handheld electronic game and trying out an 80’s game console at a friend’s house. I was so caught up doing my own thing and living in a bubble of non-gaming family and peers that I never really got socialized into gaming. I struggled in choosing a career among the humanities. I opted for Psychology but always carried along an interest in cultures. Owing to my work as a practicing psychologist since 2007, I am accustomed to putting myself in another’s place to try and see the world from their perspective. It’s about aiming to get a grasp of something essential in people’s experience of things, even though I don’t share their life experience. I admit being somewhat of an outsider to gaming, but I intend to make good use of that. I have a set of fresh eyes and the perspective of an inquisitive child or an “anthropologist” (my #2 career choice!). I believe my work experience will assist me when embarking on the quest for meanings of gaming to people. Along with the ORE project, I have my own personal project of familiarizing myself with games that I find intrinsically appealing, as well as those that I don’t.

Gaming disorder. I don’t take a strong stance towards the “right” diagnosis for gaming problems. Having worked mainly in a school setting, I have gotten a chance to interact with a host of people in and around schools. As everyone goes to school, it allows you to see life in all its variety. We often lie on a continuum regarding characteristics or belonging, rather than being either this or that. I want everyone to be seen for who they are, with an individual history, thoughts and desires. I don’t object to diagnostics, but I’m all for classifications that are fair and well thought of. I have no reason to doubt that gaming is very problematic to some people. At the same time, I think careful consideration must be given to all facets at play. I am keen to play my part in shedding light on the spectrum of meanings to be shared by our participants!

Yaewon Jin (PhD) is ORE’s post-doc researcher, interested in how to best understand post-digital society through gaming and esports. By her diverse background, she hopes to contribute by bridging fields and helping to construct a more holistic understanding of digital culture. Yaewon is educated in Media Cultural Studies (PhD) and Visual Communications (MA) at Yonsei University, after studying Film & TV Production at NYU, Tisch. She has also worked at NCsoft as a Lead Content/Game Experience Analyst, and later, managed the Emmy award-winning global esports broadcast production at Riot Games Korea.

Tasks in ORE: methodology, responsibilities of data & analysis in Korea. 

Positionality statement

I am a South Korean woman, born in the mid-1980s and I have been a gamer since childhood as my parents encouraged playing various games with my siblings under their supervision. As PC bangs became popular around my adolescence, competitive gaming became a social leisure activity with neighborhood friends. Games never appeared to me as a career but when I was first introduced to game cultural studies at the Graduate School of Communication and Arts, Yonsei University, I was fascinated. Since then, my relationship with gaming has become multi-dimensional. As a researcher, I have been interested in the interaction and relationship between games and players. Such curiosity led me to explore various roles in the industry too; from theorizing what constitutes ‘Fun’ in gameplay, and analyzing gameplay experience to business development and even managing esports production. Both research and industry experience has been a learning experience for me, and I still enjoy playing games. 

Gaming Disorder.  There were some periods in my life, I engaged in gameplay intensively. The most intensive time was with a MMORPG, AION in my mid 20’s. I played on average for more than 10 hours for approximately two years. The second intensive period was a few years after when I was working as a game content/experience analyst. I played various new games during work hours and played games for leisure after work. My family and friends used to worry that I spent too much time gaming and I also felt I played more than I intended. Still, I doubt that gaming had any serious negative impact on my performance or social ability; I think this is due to my position as a game researcher and a gamesworker, where gameplay knowledge has been a professional requirement. Yet, I realize there could be problematic ways games could be played and negative consequences.  Due to my experience with intensive gaming being somewhat different, I am curious about what exactly it is, how it happens, and why our relationship to gaming is so diverse, which are the questions the current discourse on ‘gaming disorder’ has significant limitations to answer. Furthermore, not all ‘games’  should be understood in one box when discussing the phenomenon, and the 'gaming disorder' discourse needs more careful consideration of various types and elements of games.  This is why I participate in this research and hope ORE’s exploratory approach can help us as a society understand game-people relations a bit more. 

Veli-Matti Karhulahti (PhD) is a senior researcher and the PI of the ORE project. His work is interdisciplinary across anthropology, design, game studies, health sciences, and psychology. Matti is interested in how play and technology interact with human development, and methodologically, how such questions can be studied to begin with. He has previously worked in Denmark (IT University of Copenhagen, Royal Danish Academy), Korea (Yonsei University), and the US (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

Tasks in ORE: primary investigator, keeping things running. | +358 50 533 6559


Twitter @MKarhulahti

Positionality statement

I am a Finnish man, born in the early 1980s, and currently living in Helsinki with work history also in Denmark (2011–12; 2016–18), South Korea (2018), and the US (2010–11; 2015–16). My relationship with gaming is diverse: I have played videogames since childhood, but there have also been years without any gaming. For me, the meanings related to videogames have evolved significantly over the years, and initially (until my late 20s), I was mostly interested in their story and world building mechanisms. Before moving to academia in 2011, I had worked as a cultural journalist, and during those times, to me, gaming was a form of culture like any other. I have never been actively involved in gaming communities; rather, my social networks were largely built around sports. Long-distance running and orienteering were a large part of my life until 2010 when my knee broke, not allowing me to continue these “serious leisures” henceforth. This was one of the reasons for my reignited interest in esports (more here). I continue to play various videogames for leisure and work purposes. 

Gaming Disorder. I grew up in a primary school (in the early 1990s) where gaming was encouraged and considered a valuable technological skill of the future. My teachers talked positively about gaming, and we played games regularly during and after school. From such a perspective, I have always been skeptical toward the negative effects of gaming. After all, the people I have known to play actively also have had major pursuits in cultural, sports, and work domains. This is evidently my bubble, and not representative of all players. The past decade of increased academic and non-academic engagement with players has introduced me to people whose problematic gaming experiences I take seriously; these experiences are diverse in kind. Another factor to consider are the evolving game design mechanisms: within the past years, companies have started developing increasingly questionable player retention and monetization strategies. In sum, although I consider the WHO’s decision to include Gaming Disorder in the ICD-11 premature and/or not the right way to address the issue, I do acknowledge the real problems that some people have with gaming. These problems need to be well understood for policy-makers to be able to make better decisions in the future.

Valtteri Kauraoja (MA) is a doctoral student in ORE, at the University of Jyväskylä. His master’s is from the Department of Media Studies, at the University of Turku. In his previous work, Valtteri has approached game experiences through digital ethnography, structural analysis, and audience studies. His doctoral thesis will consider the relationship between game design structures and problematic gaming.

Tasks in ORE: Structural analysis of the video game data 

Positionality statement

I’m a child of turn-of-the-century Finnish suburbia. As such, video games were integral in how I learned to socialize. I largely learned to read bilingually through playing a large variety of strategy, action, and role-playing games of the era. It offered shared experiences with my peers, but when I was able to go consistently online during elementary school, it also offered an alternative world of online friends with whom I could be choosier. I grew increasingly interested in this permeating online world and its connections to our larger cultural history, also amassing a considerable collection of vintage computers and video games during my teenage years. In light of this, Media Studies seemed like a logical direction, as long as I was allowed to consider our human relationship with art and culture. While my time spent playing games fluctuates, it still remains an interest and my primary way of socializing with specific friends.

Gaming Disorder. There were some efforts by my parents to control my gaming, probably as a reaction to my excitement over the hobby. As most of my interests were inside, I was consistently forced to go outside which I also learned to enjoy. These restrictions loosened with my changing custody situation and soon I found myself struggling to balance my extensive hobbies and social life in the digital world with my feelings of shame over my screen time. In this context, gaming disorder appears important but extremely difficult to identify and treat. As an increasingly relevant cultural industry, people are bound to have very conflicting experiences concerning it. There should be no barrier of entry for receiving treatment, but attention must be paid to not pathologize common habits of play. It all seems to emphasize the need for increased multidisciplinary study on the subject, which I am happy to take part in. 

Marcel Martončik (PhD) is interested in how to increase the credibility and replicability of behavioral research and seeks to promote these ways as a co-founder of the Slovak Reproducibility Network. Besides gaming and mental health, he is also interested in topics related to esports and human performance. Next to working in the ORE project, Marcel keeps the Slovak Academy of Sciences and University of Presov running as an associate professor.

Tasks in ORE: methodology, responsibilities of data & analysis in Slovakia. 

Positionality statement

I started to play computer games when I was around 14 years old. Playing PC games (all genres) was my hobby and so were PC-related technical things (tweaking, modding, overclocking). During high school, with my classmates, we used to play Counter-Strike together and later also StarCraft: Broodwar. That's how I got into playing Broodwar competitively (I fell in love with this game :D). In later years, while attending local LAN tournaments and international leagues, I was also a clan leader of the best Slovak clan (DeadLamy) and for a while the captain of the Slovak national team. Later on, I played StarCraft 2 just for fun, not for competition (I quit in 2019). Currently, due to lacking time, I occasionally play first-person shooters like DOOM, Battlefield, and various real-time strategy games. I still consider gaming a relaxing activity.

Gaming disorder. While playing competitively, I realized over time that I have a control problem. Gaming competitively required a lot of time both for regular practice and league matches. As time went on, it was hard for me to tell myself "it was enough for today" or "I am going to take a break for a few days". I don't want to say that I was addicted (I’ve never played an 8-hour day) but I was aware of how addictive gaming can be and felt that my gaming was probably close to it. The solution for me was to stop playing completely and uninstalling the game. I consider the social aspect of gaming and competition, the two main components of esports, to be potentially addictive characteristics. Currently, although I still like to play, I am not a promoter of gaming (we don't even have a TV at home on purpose) and would rather promote offline leisure activities for the youth.

Bora Na (PhD) is a post-doc game researcher in the ORE project. She finished her PhD at the Yonsei Graduate School of Visual Communication in Seoul and has been working on the history and culture of Korean gaming. Bora taught gaming history and culture at several colleges and has participated in various publications with an exceptional interest in the topic of cultural & social aspects of gaming. She is also a writer and translator. Her main goal is to introduce and guide gaming to the public in a more understanding manner.

Tasks in ORE: methodology, responsibilities of data & analysis in Korea.

Positionality statement

I was born and raised in Korea, and I went to the US to study college education in the late 90s. I later returned back to Korea in 2001. This particular period of time, the late 90s to the early 2000s, was a pivotal moment in the South Korean game industry and gaming culture. Before I went to the US, video games were notorious for ripping off young children and were considered to be one of the most despised commercial entertainments. It was not easy for me to tell my parents that I wanted to go to the video arcades since the place was considered to be the centre of adolescent crimes. But when I returned back to Korea in the early 2000s, gaming was suddenly regarded as a brave new industry — spotlighted as one of the futures of the South Korean economy and culture. (But of course, this doesn’t mean that all of a sudden Korean parents embraced gaming as a “good hobby” for their children.) The reason was the economic crisis at the end of the 20th century (so-called “the IMF [International Monetary Fund] crisis of South Korea”). Korea had to go through painful labour and economic structural provisions to survive its economy in order to accommodate IMF’s bailout conditions, which required large-scale governmental expenditure cuts and labour market reform. This economic recession impacted many families in South Korea, resulting in tens of thousands of layoffs and early retirees in the late 90s. There, the PC-bang (internet/PC cafe) business became a means of living for many of these individuals seeking an alternative career. Also, the success of emerging online multiplayer games such as StarCraft (Blizzard, 1998) played a significant role in the financial recovery of those who lost their jobs in layoffs. At the same time, the news of Korean esports players’ excellent performances in international competitions gave positive hope and national pride to Korean society suffering grief and despair of the economic crisis. It's always a pity that I was away from Korea during this time: in the late 90s, and was not able to experience a pivotal historical moment in Korean game culture. Instead, I experienced significant industrial & cultural differences between the PC-dominant Korean game culture and console-dominant American game culture in the US with the successes of Playstation and Xbox. It was a pivotal historical moment for the game industry in Korea and the USA to begin paving their own path and step forward from the traditional industrial giants (e.g., Sega, Nintendo) that once seemed to last forever. In Korea, gaming got over its old notoriety with the rise of online games and even received attention from higher educational institutions as an emerging futuristic research topic. There, I became one of the first gamer generations who began to study video games on the graduate school level.

Gaming Disorder. In Korea, "video game addiction" (in Korean terms, “excessive immersion in gaming”), generally refers to a psychological state in which one can not distinguish the real world from the fictional world. For the non-players, spending an extensive amount of money or time on gaming or engaging in a relationship inside video game space may appear as a pathological symptom. I personally believe such a view towards players is misleading and even concerning. However, it is also true that such a view played a significant role in shaping the Korean academic discourse of (the hegemonic) video game addiction theory. At the same time, it exemplifies a wide cognitive gap between players and non-players in Korea that leads to social conflicts. The notion of video game addiction itself is, I think, supposed to be a matter of diagnostic medical scientific research. Yet, it became far more complicated and controversial upon education experts and communities (i.e., parental communities) beginning to adapt it without critical inquiries — and the policymakers and legislators who couldn’t ignore the power of parental communities as political casting votes for the election. This further polarised the Korean public’s opinions on gaming, marginalising the academic inquiries, discussion, and discourse on video game culture in the region. Sometimes I even wonder whether the policymakers are actively stigmatising gaming to cover up other pending issues within the video game industry. Therefore, I believe an empirical and thorough scientific analysis is vital - to inquire the fundamental existence or the phenomenon of “video game addiction (excessive immersion in gaming)” or “gaming disorder”. I believe this would help us to negotiate Korean society’s social consensus on video game policy, further understanding what exactly gaming culture is, and where it may lead us.

Solip Park (MA, MET) is a doctoral student at Aalto University. Her PhD research focuses on longitudinal research on game expats - immigrants/expatriates in the game industry, game production culture, and game design praxiology. Solip is a co-host of the Games Now! open lecture series at Aalto University and the author of the "Game Expats Story" comic series since 2020. Solip is also currently acting as a member of the board at Finnish Game Jam Ry. Prior to Finland, she was one of the co-founding members of Nexon Computer Museum - the first permanent museum in East Asia dedicated to the history of computer and video games, located in South Korea.

 Tasks in ORE: assisting coordination and supporting Korean data & analysis. | 

Positionality statement

I was born and raised in South Korea, and I still remember my first MS-DOS-based computer game experiences. Then in the early 2000s, as a teenager, I became fascinated by Korean MMORPGs, including "Asgard" "Crazy Arcade" "Kartrider" and the rising esports scenes in the region. Once I moved to Seoul (the capital of South Korea) to begin my Bachelor years, I began to regularly watch esports matches on TV. Several years later, I noticed myself working in the game company helping with their international relations and communication. My fascination with games then grew into curiosity towards game work and culture, particularly on people behind the game development and how different countries tend to interpret, practice, and manage games — the culture of gameplay and game work. Decades later now, I still enjoy watching various esports matches and live streams while also pursuing my game research career. 

Gaming Disorder. The word ‘game addition’ was already widespread in Korea by the time I became an active gamer as a teenager. My mother was concerned about my gameplay (on-screen) hours, worrying that I might be one of those ‘game-addicted children’ that mass media was alarmed about. I remember that at some point I lied to my parents about my gaming hours and even tried to find ways to get more money to purchase loot boxes — even tried to sneak into my parent’s cash. Obviously, something had to be done. But instead of criticizing or trying to 'fix' my gameplay behaviour, my mother first decided to listen. She began asking me about what characters and classes I tend to play, who I interact with in the virtual space, what I like about the game, etc. She tried to understand the games and virtual world that I interact with. Which I was always eager to brag about. Along the conversation, she also freely shared her thoughts about what she considers a safer and more balanced way to manage on-screen times. Every day we talked, discussed, and negotiated. And eventually, we became closer friends. The game functioned as a topic of our conversation - a channel between my family and me and eventually my view of the real world. This experience truly benefited me in navigating through my teenage time, which helped boost my excitement about games into a career.

Miia Siutila (MA) is a Doctoral candidate at the University of Turku, Department of Media studies. She is also a researcher in the University of Jyväskylä in a project focusing on gaming and mental health. Miia's doctoral thesis focuses on esports as a hobby and the cultures of play and practices where esports evolves.

Positionality statement

My first gaming memories are from the age of 4 or 5 and I’ve had access to gaming devices throughout my childhood and youth. I’ve owned several consoles and handhelds as a child, but only got my first computer that I could game with as an adult when I moved out from my parent’s house. Growing up in middle class Finland, gaming was something that most kids did to some extent regardless of gender. Nearly everyone had some kind of console, few had several at once. However, at least in my friend group, gaming was just one activity among many that we could and would do. As a 30-something adult I find my playtime fluctuates significantly more than as a child or youth. I have less time now than I had when I was younger. However, my preferred playstyle hasn’t changed: I still want to play several hours in a row. Thus, I mostly only play on the rare occasions when I have extra free time (often because of being ill and thus home alone) or when I’ve specifically made time for gaming (often because of a title I’ve been expecting for a long time). Throughout my life gaming has been a more or less important part of my free time. I have always been very engaged with competitive sports and spend significant time reading books, and thus never spend that much time playing. However, I still have thousands of hours in certain games and have always enjoyed gaming very much.

Gaming Disorder. While I never had problems with my gaming, I very much think I could easily have ended up also playing too much. I was a lonely child and experienced bullying through primary school. Perhaps luckily, I always had other things besides gaming where to escape: I had competitive sports and I had fantasy and science fiction books. If I had spent as much time playing games as I did reading my parents would certainly have been worried. I think gaming disorder, like other behavioral disorders, needs a diagnosis mainly because without one it is very difficult to find help. It is unquestionable that for some people their gaming habits are a hindrance for their own happiness and a source of problems and difficulties.

Tae-jin Yoon (PhD) is a professor at Graduate School of Communication, Yonsei University. He has lectured and written on media-related cultural phenomena for more than 20 years. His research covers a variety of topics, such as TV dramas, gaming/esports, webtoons, and the Korean Wave, to name a few. He wrote a monograph Digital Game Culture Research (2015) and currently runs the Yonsei Game and Esports Research Center (YEGER) lab, which is a platform for collaboration with colleagues and students in game studies. The YEGER's research outputs have recently included reports "Women in the Gaming Industry," "Post-COVID Game Culture in Korea," and "Game Culture of Korean Elderly."

Tasks in ORE: supervision in Korea, cultural analysis of Korean data 

Positionality statement

I am a scholar of popular culture with a particular interest in the critical analysis of people's everyday lives, including their favorite activities and media consumption. Born and bred in Korea, I left the country after college to study overseas and eventually received a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in the United States, where I studied television dramas. Watching television has been a common media-consuming habit for ordinary people for a very long time, and my research has primarily focused on the study of television shows and the viewing behavior of audiences. Nevertheless, in the 2000s, as popular culture underwent a major shift, my research interests also changed. I developed an interest in studying games, gamers, and game culture as video games evolved into a universal form of entertainment that was no longer exclusive to youths. I have been particularly curious about the joy that games bring to people and what playtime means to them. Although I am not an avid gamer myself, I have published several papers and books on games and e-sports in collaboration with young peer researchers. My academic background in media cultural studies has been a great asset in my game research, and I aspire to lay the foundation for the field of game culture research. I hope that my work will help people find happiness and have fun playing games.

Gaming Disorder. The way people think is greatly influenced by language. If a person sacrifices sleep to play video games, many people might call them a game "addict," a medical term, without much thought. Heavy gamers have thus become treated like sick patients who require medical care. For a very long time, this language game has been repeated and justified without scientific evidence. While it is true that some individuals become so engrossed in games that they struggle to maintain a normal daily life, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that video games are the direct cause of this behavior. "Gaming disorder," which has been coined by the World Health Organization, is not a name of a disease, but rather a name of a visible symptom caused by many unknown factors. We still lack a clear understanding of the nature, cause, type, and effect of this symptom. In Korea, video games are enjoyed by roughly 75% of all adults. It would be absurd to regard three-fourths of the population as potential patients who have been exposed to the etiology. We must first and foremost comprehend the nature of gaming disorder before we can confidently label it as a "disorder." It is unfortunate that many people still perceive video games as a cause of disease and treat those who enjoy them as patients, rather than acknowledging the positive aspects of video games and the potential benefits they can offer.

Deborah JY Kang

Legal Advisor 

Juraj Varga (PhD)

Legal Advisor 

Igor Smelý (PhD)

Psychiatrist, Clinical expert

Anna Salmi

Data management expert 

Juuso Marttila

Data management expert