ART SALE sun 23.8. at 11-18
Tullikamarin aukio 2

Ikuinen gallery is a contemporary art project space located in Tampere. The gallery is run by a board of fine art students in Tampere UAS School of Art and Media as part of their study program. Ikuinen gallery’s main focus is in presenting interesting and high quality student work, whereas work from other art school students and teachers as well as visiting artists are regularly also at show.

Ikuinen Galleria

This is a short story of how a band called Wends survived the trip to Canadian Music Week.

In May, the long anticipated trip to Toronto was finally at hand. After six months of recording and mixing our debut album, we rocked away our rust in Bar Loose, Helsinki, on first of May. Immediately after the gig ended, we started packing our instruments and toothbrushes, ready to get airborne and off to the 51st state of America... I mean, Canada. Luckily we had one day to rest in Helsinki before leaving.

The airplane was packed with movies, beer and anticipation. Over seven hours of fly-time to the first change of flights, included watching movies, sleeping, going around the plane a little handing out stickers to various people, and playing chess with the crappiest touch screen computers ever made (thanks to it’s own will I lost... Twice).
First stop, JFK New York! 

Our singer Vilppu

Amazing 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi per device made it hard to keep Instagram posted, but we managed somehow. It was the first time on the continent for 3/5 of our band, so we just had to sneak out from the airport to breath the fresh American air! Finally came the time of departure for our second flight, from JFK to YYZ. The plane looked like it was made of paper and it was so tiny that our keyboard player Touko couldn't even stand up straight without hitting his head. Other than that and the lack of Coca-Cola on the flight, it was the smoothest hour and a half in a long time.
We landed at Pearson Airport. When we got out of the luggage area, we saw our manager waiting in the lobby with a sign in his hand that said "Jyväskylän Poikakuoro", amazingly well written for a Canadian guy! We hopped on to the first bus and tried not to fall asleep standing.
We got to our AirBnb crib and we were super tired, but not enough to skip the first possibility of checking Toronto nightlife, so we went to a bar, which later became our regular. After one pitcher (a jar of ale shared with friends), we decided to go and rest.

We woke up. Even after being so tired, all we could sleep was roughly 3,5 hours. It was Monday, so it was time to do all the practical stuff: big breakfast, CMW wristbands, instrument rental, metro tickets, food to the fridge etc. We went around the town to check out every place worth checking. I don't much remember of the first day, thanks to the jet lag, but we went to see some cool places and venues where the gigs were going to happen later that week, and then again to the crib.

This night we slept maybe 5 or 6 hours. But we were excited, because tonight was a game night! We had tickets to the Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees ball game, thanks to our manager. It was an amazing experience, gotta say that. And needles to say, we had to check the nightlife again. 

From left: Vilppu, me, Jiri, Mauri and Touko

This was a day of heights. As some of you might know, I'm deadly scared of them, but when you got a building couple of times taller than Näsinneula standing next to you, you just don't pass on that. We got up to CN Tower, I started crying and we came back down. Never going to do that again! In the evening we went to our manager's friend, to chill out and barbeque stuff. And oh, he owns a light and sound system rental company, quite a huge one, which we got to visit later that week.

Thursday… nothing special happened on Thursday. We pretty much chilled and started to mentally prepare for our gig on Saturday. We went out and ended up at Phoenix Theatre just in time for Rival Sons, saw people and that's pretty much it!

In the morning Vilppu and me went to see our manager's friend's company. It was totally nuts: a big hall filled with a lot of audiovisual geek equipment, and some random stuff like 20 sofas owned by Drake. Crazy... And we also got news that we don't have some of the gear we were promised to the, so we made another trip to rent them. We practiced our set with the instruments we had, because it had been a week already since we last played anything. Again, we went out in the evening...

This was the day for our show. It was really hectic especially when we heard that we still needed to go rent more stuff. Luckily the rental system worked really well and was fairly cheap, but it didn’t make the schedule any easier.
Most of the stuff we got to the club with a taxi, some via streetcar (that’s what they call a tram back there). We were the first band in the venue, although we didn’t have a sound check and we were the third one to play from eight bands. We left our stuff and marked everything so that stuff wouldn’t get mixed. And after that it was time to finally eat.
Roughly half an hour before the gig we went to the venue to check if everything was okay: a short line check just before the gig. There were 40-50 people in the audience and they were totally rocking with us. We played a tight 28-minute set and immediately started packing our stuff, because that’s how it goes on festivals like this. People came to speak to us after the gig and they were really interested, even the sound guy said “excellent!” while to the other bands he just kept repeating “f**k off!”. We talked to many of them for a while, but before doing anything else we had to get our stuff back to our crib. The rest of the night was pretty laid-back. After the show we’d done what we came there for, so we tried to relax. Some of us went back to the center, but it was the busiest night on the whole festival (Faith no More and Billy Talent played at the same day), so it was hard to get in anywhere. It was time to get back to our place and just rest - we deserved that.

Wends @ Cherry Cola’s, Toronto

This was our final full day in Toronto. We tried to chill for the whole day, because in the evening we had to start packing. We also said goodbye to our manager, since he left a day early as he came to Toronto a day before us. Vilppu and me went to the airport with him, not only for being polite but also to rent a car for tomorrow. We drove back to our place from Pearson airport and managed to stay alive, even though I’m terrible at giving directions. We packed, ate and went to bed, because tomorrow was going to be a long day.

We woke up early and made breakfast. Some went to return the stuff to the instrument rental while the rest stayed behind to pack the last of our stuff. Then came the time to leave the crib. We hopped to the car and took everything we had with us and started driving. Of course, it was only 12am at that moment, and our plane wasn’t leaving until 9:50pm, so we took a little detour: we headed to Niagara Falls. It was one and a half hour drive there, but it was worth it. When we got there I started feeling bad about leaving Canada. The week had been awesome: every day we met new people, and got to knew each other better than ever. We again understood that we didn’t only spend tons of money to fly 6500 kilometers somewhere to play a half an hour gig to 50 people (that pretty much sums it up right?), we did it because we enjoy doing what we do. We don’t know yet what’s going to follow. We know that we met a lot of new people. Some of them were big in the music industry, some of them were teenagers who wanted free stickers, but for us all of them were equally important. One thing we know for sure, is that this wasn’t our last trip, just one of the first.
If interested in seeing more pictures from the trip, check out @wendsmusic on Instagram and for more stuff check out our facebook:

Thanks for reading!

-Karri Mikkonen-

ART SALE sun 16.8. at 11-16
Itsenäisyydenkatu 12-14 

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Ikuinen Gallery

Ikuinen gallery is a contemporary art project space located in Tampere. The gallery is run by a board of fine art students in Tampere UAS School of Art and Media as part of their study program. Ikuinen gallery’s main focus is in presenting interesting and high quality student work, whereas work from other art school students and teachers as well as visiting artists are regularly also at show.

Ikuinen Galleria

My initial feeling about this trip was excitement! It was awesome to get to attend Nordic Game this year! It was the 12th time the conference was held and it promised good times right from the start based on the speakers and the nominees. The indie game night was the absolute highlight of the event in my opinion. The nominees were fresh and interesting! Besides, it is always a rare treat to get to play the game while chatting with the developers themselves.

It turned out that I had a lot of favourites among the speakers, but here I have been trying to concentrate on the ones that fit the subject of ”The Future of Gaming”. They raised a lot of hopes and questions in my head about the future and I will try my best to sum it up here.

The Future of Gaming

It seems that Virtual Reality will be a huge part of the future of games. There is a lot of going on on that front today since we are currently living in a historical period where it is actually possible to make affordable VR devices for the consumers. In the past there has been a lot of attemps in the field of VR ( See for example The Sensorama on the left!), but there hasn't been a real market for it yet. Now magically we seem to have hit an era where there is the will and the way to make Virtual Reality happen. People are widely interested in VR and there is starting to be a suitable market for the developers to aim to. This isn't the case just in the games industry! Virtual Reality movies and tv-shows are propably starting to pop up more frequently in the future. Still even though the VR offers a lot of opportunities, it also makes the developers face new kinds of problems that come with the new found player immersion.

Jed Ashforth( Senior Game Designer at Sony Europe ) discussed few of the challenges that come with VR and the practices they have found to be effective while developing Project Morpheus.

He was telling how developers should forget the movie-style design and think about how you would design a great theme park ride! Most of the effects and ques you are used to using in traditional game design won't work in VR perspective. The presence of the player inside the game world multiplies the feeling he/she is investing into the game. So all the scares players are normally able to handle can be 1000 times more scary when they are directly in front of the players face. More precense also means that the immersion is more easy to break! So you have to be clear with your design choices and not to lead the player astray, give them what they expect so to speak. In traditional games some of these things are more forgivable or easy to handle since there is always a character you play as. In VR it is literally YOU who is inside the game. No developer knows what kind of package the player brings to the experience with them. Ashforth also emphasized how you should never take the control of players head! That breaks the immersion right away and may even cause some problems like nausea. The player comfort should be the top priority and he had some interesting ideas about how to make the game understand player's discomfort and change the content based on their feelings to assure the most pleasant game experience.
Chet Faliszek ( Writer for Valve Corporation ) also talked about the subject. He emphasized how it is vital not to make players sick! For example issues like locomotion and changes in player height can cause nausea. If the experience is bad for the players it will effectively kill the whole concept of VR yet again.

We also saw some pretty impressive tech demos from Just Cause 3 engine and several from Unity. It highlighted the fact that game engines are still going forward and they provide increasingly more variety and options for developers. VR was also mentioned several times.

A panel discussion on the second day that was organized by Diversi raised up some diversity and equality issues about videogames. The issue of women in the industry and games has been discussed widely in media lately and I was happy to notice that the panel wasn't just about that subject.
Something that I hadn't really stop to think about was how dominant the western developers are in the games industry. There isn't many games done by, for example, people from middle east. Okay, there isn't that many companies existing yet in middle east, but the passion is there and it is growing. The whole game culture we know is very western even though there is old giants in the east like Nintendo. Still most of AAA-titles come from Europe and America. I think one of the panelists presented a good example about a game that was solely about rolling carpets. I'm sad to say that I can't remember the name of the game, but his point was that the game was an experience that most of the western people can't understand because of their cultural backgrounds. He also said that he'd want to see a game that has bearded man of color as main character, not just as some prop you shoot at.

There was also a talk about diversity in game characters by Bioware's senior writer David Gaider and it was about some of the same issues as Diversi panel. He talked about his background and his work at Bioware. He also showed some character examples and made it very clear that it's not about filling ”quotas”. It's about reality. It is completely normal to have gay people, transgender people and people from different races. You see and meet them everyday, why it should be any different in games. Also some of his points how to make a character sexy without making it sexualized was spot on, in my opinion. ”You can have a lot of women in your games, but if they're all prostitutes, damsels and sexualized, what does that say about you? ” It is hard to find that balance, but it is vital and most of the players don't even stop to think about it at all. Diversity is an opportunity, not a limitation or a quota that should be filled just because.

So what do I think of all of this?

I personally see the future of videogames interesting. The way they are played will change due to new devices and I think it will go towards more and more realistic games. More immersive experiences! The software technology is certainly going towards it with engines that have simulated arm hairs and massive open world areas. The hardware technology is also providing interesting options in the forms of Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus and many others that will be battling for the title of "King of Virtual Reality" in the future. The one thing where we are lacking right now is the diversity in the industry and in games, but I feel that is going to change since the issue has been brought up several times. People find it important and that's why it raises so many emotions every time it is discussed. In my opinion we have to keep in mind that the issue isn't only games industry's problem, it is common in entertainment all over the world. Same stories are told with same stereotypes and by the same people. I personally want to see this change in the future! I can't wait for all the interesting stories that are still yet to be experienced by the players all over the world!