ALTHOUGH we might be used to Anglo-American domination in most aspects of popular culture, in terms of game development and coding the playing field is a tad more level. This spring’s bestseller Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has been developed by Sweden’s leading gaming company Digital Illusions CE. Danish IO Interactive is known as the developer of the popular Hitman series.

The video game industry in Finland has a long history and a trusted reputation. Humble beginnings in the mid-90s have led to a games industry that has the highest amount of public funding relative to population in the EU and is a major contributor to Finland’s export sector. The numbers of people working in the Finnish games industry grew from 400 in 2002 to 1,147 in 2008.

Video game development has gone from a solo effort into a billion dollar business, where armies of coders, production designers and other staff work to produce blockbusting virtual experiences.

A VISITOR from another planet who came to earth in the mid-1980s, played some computer games, returned to their galaxy, and then returned for a quick go on today’s modern consoles, would surely be amazed at the progress made in game development. While hits from 25 years ago such as the ZX Spectrum’s Manic Miner were programmed by one man, today’s mega titles like Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) have budgets in the millions of dollars and can require teams of dozens if not hundreds of coders, programmers, actors and artists.


Forensic science has been in vogue in crime fiction since the turn of the century and continues to fascinate the public. Inside Finland’s largest crime lab, the real-life forensics experts match fingerprints and identify DNA samples in service of the justice system.

IT WAS not the most typical Finnish crime, although the setting was all too familiar: an alcoholic, found badly burnt outside a dormitory, died months later of his injuries. His drinking buddy professed an account of the events: the victim, having enjoyed ethanol solvent with his fellows, passed out. His partner then flicked a lit cigarette stub on him as a joke, inadvertently setting his ethanol-soaked clothes ablaze.

 

Modern circus is blurring the lines between performance and participation – and you’d be surprised at who’s rolling up to join in the fun.

THE ART of circus is becoming something which is accessible to everyone – in a very hands-on sense. Though not all of us are aiming to become the girl on the flying trapeze or a lycra-clad human cannonball, the circus is allowing people of all walks of life, from all around the world, to find skills and develop talents they may never have known they had. It has been discovered by many to be not only a vehicle for self-expression, but an addictive means of social networking, learning and improving impressive skills, and keeping fit.

 

From the ancient Romans via the Big Top to the modern stage, circus has kept us enthralled for thousands of years. Its remarkable ability to adapt and evolve to maintain the fascination of audiences over time is what makes it unique.

WHILE the children of the 30s were wowed by the emergence of the “talkies” – cinematic films with both images and synchronised sound – the modern day teenager thinks nothing of playing tennis on their Wii, setting people on fire in real time and examining the computer generated world of Pandora in three dimensions.