Checkpoint begins with a teaser on the website, using a choose-your-own-adventure-esque element to tell the story about the future of video games. A new piece of the story is released twice every week based on what the audience/participants decided previously, up until the day of the Checkpoint event itself. It’s a pretty cool and nice touch that brings back memories of the old-school activities books in the 90s if you ask me.
The two-day event is filled with activities catered for everyone – the academically oriented would be interested in the seminars/panel sessions; while those who prefer getting their hands dirty would appreciate the line-up of board games activities, workshops, tournaments and lists of retro games available for you to try out. If you’re just looking around, there’s also some exhibitions while you make up your mind to participate in something.
Held at the Tampere Startup Hub, the organizers fully utilized the space to craft a wholesome experience. Interestingly, the choose-your-own-adventure experience seems to extend from the official website to the event itself. At the entrance, you have two choices to turn left or right. Turning left would bring to towards the deepest of dungeons, a journey of explorations of the Finnish Gaming past and present – a partial display of the Finnish Gaming history curated by the students of UTA. Within the same space, you’d be able to see exhibitions of some cosplay costumes and entries of the cosplay photo-shoot competition. The space fully captures how much of gaming transgressed into the Finnish culture, to becoming a part of people’s daily lives.
Turning right at the entrance, you’ll be led to a series of stairs heading up to the second floor, where more of the magical stuff is located. The area where seminars are held provides deep dive insights into the realm of gaming culture in Finland, with presentations and panel discussions covering topics such as game development as a hobby and / or a profession, ethical game design to name a few. There are also Workshops that you could sign up beforehand, and head over to the Workshop venue and start tinkering – from Pokémon duel strategies to the geeky crafts of Game of Thrones and Minecraft, Checkpoint has all ground covered. The third door on the second floor would get most gamers excited. In one corner there’s a bountiful of old school games where you could play while reminiscing memories from your youth (or childhood) jamming to Guitar Hero 😉 In the middle, you could match yourself up with a random opponent sitting in the room (or a friend) to play a round of board games.
Finland being a huge game developer community, there are also some collections of games from some Finnish game companies like Lightneer on display that one could try their hands on. Portal/Portaali, a new start up in Tampere advocating VR games, has also brought together their display of VR games on the HTC Vive – that you could test drive yourself to experience the immersive world of VR.
Note: it makes the whole Ninja Fruit thing waaaaay harder than it was just in mobile
To be fair, there is a lot that Checkpoint has to offer. However, due to my limited understanding of the Finnish language I was unable to fully immerse myself into the experience (particularly the seminars) Nonetheless, for the activities that I did participate in, it was amazing and interesting experience. Kudos to the organizers who did an amazing job putting this together!