Finnish Games Then and Now

From yesterday to the 10th of June, the media museum Rupriikki in Tampere is hosting an exhibit titled Finnish Games Then and Now. Free admission. In a rather small area, it showcases the history of Finnish game design, from board games to Angry Birds. Somewhere, they also managed to fit in a couple of roleplaying games.

Over half of the exhibit is taken up by electronic games, and the selection is commendably large, from big titles like Angry Birds and Max Payne to the freeware classics of bygone years like Wings and Stair Dismount. Many of the titles are also playable on a selection of consoles and computers. There’s even a late-nineties Nokia model for playing Snake, which was a nice touch. On the electronic games side, the guys who assembled this knew their stuff.

There are also board games, such as the hilariously politically incorrect Afrikan tähti (Star of Africa) and the Reds versus Whites board game from the days of the Civil War. Also, Kimble, which I don’t regard so much as a game as an overpriced vehicle for a gimmick die roller. I cannot deny its strangely enduring popularity, though, and cannot protest its inclusion. Also on display is Eclipse, last year’s hit board game that’s been making waves at BoardGameGeek.

Yet, I must criticize. Before going to the exhibit, I composed a list of three roleplaying game items that should be there: Miekka ja magia (Sword and Sorcery), the first Finnish roleplaying game, by Risto “Nordic” Hieta; Nordic Larp, for its documentation of the Nordic larp tradition and its masterpieces in Finland and elsewhere; and Stalker, the sci-fi RPG named one of the great cultural deeds of the year by Helsingin Sanomat when it came out. Unfortunately, the people behind the exhibit had agreed with me on only the two former.

Commendably, the larp Dragonbane had a lot of room dedicated to it, with costumes and props on display.

There was also Mordheim, a skirmish battle game designed by the Finn Tuomas Pirinen and published by the British Games Workshop. It had most of a large display case all for itself, with Miekka ja magia shunted off to one corner. Personally, I can sort of approve including Mordheim, since to my understanding Tuomas Pirinen wrote most of the game by himself, but it is still a British game and it takes up an inordinately large amount of space in there, which could have been used for other deserving hobby games, such as Stalker. Other worthies would’ve been Praedor and Myrskyn aika (The two most sold Finnish RPGs. The titleholder depends on how you count them. Of course, if you allow for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, it blows them both out of the water.), Star Wreck (a tie-in RPG released by the film company)Zombeja! Ovella! (the first Finnish RPG to be translated to English), Ikuisuuden laakso (widely regarded as the best spaghetti western penguin roleplaying game out there) and perhaps some of the Finnish sourcebooks written for Twilight: 2000.

This also irks me because the folks behind the exhibit are the Tampere University Game Research Lab, who really should know this stuff.

But hey, you don’t have to take my word for all this. It’s there, it’s free of charge, and if I found myself in the centre of Tampere with time on my hands, I could think of worse ways to spend it.

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