Why Is The Forest So Beautiful? 14 May 2017

 – The Exchange Experience –

It was roughly two months ago when I attended a trip to a forest half an hour away from the center of Oslo. It was organized by the buddy-group in HiOA (Hogskolen i Oslo og Akershus).

The Buddy-group is mainly for those of us who come to Norway as exchange students. As I understand, it is a program run by local Norwegian students to welcome and host the exchange or international students.

I felt the warmth and the hospitality of the hosts from the day of my arrival in Oslo.  I was met by my buddy at the central railway station which was a huge gesture of welcome. Our buddies all come from different courses, but all relating to art, like drama and design… They built a Facebook group, and organized ice-skating, waffle making workshops, movie night… Quite a lot of activities during this semester.

photo01 by myrtoJourney to the Forest. Photo: Myrto Theocharidou

It is this experience in the forest that I would find unforgettable. So we went into the woods with supplies including sausages, oranges, and who would forget hot chocolate to keep us warm. I was with several of my classmates from AALTO and our buddies.

We didn’t just enjoy the forest, we also learned life skills. Marius, one of our buddies, showed us how to produce fire and protect it from being put out by the strong wind in order for us to enjoy the experience of grilling sausages in open fire.  We were also shown how to use a Viking knife to prepare our unique forks. We shared jokes and laughter, although at times, we really didn’t understand why; it was probably a mixture of the fun and the cold even when the sun was up.

photo02 by Jie.jpgphoto03 by Jie.jpg

Everyone had a beautiful experience. “It is too nice!” Alex said. I think I ate three sausages, oh, maybe four!

17353598_10155193244286388_2949927218997028730_nPhoto: Myrto Theocharidou

At this point, I recall a dialogue with a friend. She shared with me how strange her feeling was, something so familiar and positive, whenever she had to spend 20 minutes through the forest on her way to work, an experience brought about by her company’s decision to move out of the city.

But another man I spoke with from an activity center in Oslo, told me how he hates the forest. It’s because he thinks that the woods are always there, never disappearing, and how they are always involving people. But unlike the forest, when he dies, nobody will know. His thoughts have a sad and beautiful note to it.

photo04 by Jie.jpgPhoto: Jie Zhao

I have been wondering for a long time, why the forest is so beautiful and meaningful to me, and maybe also to you. Then I suddenly realized how a forest is such a vivid background, a stage, a spectacle, reminding us of life and death and the relationships we have.  Somehow its existence reminds us of our being.


Jie Zhao’s thoughts travel between art education and the natural and metaphorical beauty of the forest. She was a graphic designer and a lecturer in Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts. Her current journey in the Nordics is a part of her search for various liberating art education processes.

The Game That Changed 6 May 2017

Video games have been studied for at least 20 years by now, but video games continue to change and turn into something that nobody had anticipated. How can we understand the changing content, values, and contexts of video games?

On March 27th of 2017, game researchers gathered together in Copenhagen to discuss the concurrent and the future of game studies. The topic included game design, history, cognitive science and game pedagogy. There, I had a chance to conduct a 30-min speech about the South Korean game studies and political discourses that surround them.

“The Game That Changed” seminar took place in The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK), coordinated by influential game researcher Jesper Juul.


Jesper Juul (right), introducing Solip Park. Photo by Niké Svensson Edelholm, NoVA@Kostfack

South Korean translation of “game” is “gae-im(게임)”, which is a direct loanword from English. The word, however, does not conflate with the traditional games like in the West but instead disconnected from the legacy of traditional values. This unique positioning of the word game, therefore, affects, not only the (public’s) common sense but also, how we conceptualize them in studies and theories as well. With this in mind, my speech covered the “South Korean (boxed) PC game crash” that happened in the late 1990s, referencing my previous researches and artifact-based exhibitions conducted at Nexon Computer Museum (South Korea). The speech briefly walks through several sociocultural and economical incidents that occurred in South Korea during the late-1990s, including Asian Financial Crisis and rise of competitive gaming culture; the direct causes that formed concurrent South Korean gaming culture and discourses.


South Korean (Boxed) PC Game Crash overview slide by Solip Park



Eric Zimmerman, the author of Rules of Play.                   Photo by Jesper Juul, KADK



Miguel Sicart, presenting the Making Digital Play.          Photo by Jesper Juul, KADK



Solip Park, presenting South Korean PC Game Crash. Photo by Niké Svensson Edelholm, NoVA,Kostfack

My discussion went more in-depth in the follow-up 90-min lecture Shacking the frame: “Game” in East Asia & South Korean game studies, which was conducted with the collaboration with IT University of Copenhagen, Center for Computer Games Research. Center for Computer Games Research. There, I’ve explained the terminological differences between word “game” and how East Asian languages (Chinese, Korean and Japanese) interpret them in their own languages, as East Asia do not have traditional linguistic terms that directly correspond to the western definition of ‘game’. Together with South Korean (boxed) PC game crash, I believe this terminological and ontological frame is one of the fundamental aspects that structures the game related discourses in my home country – South Korea.

As such, how the language constructs our subjectivity towards the concept of “game” and frames the local game studies triggers my curiosity most in recent days. I seek to dig deeper into this topic in my future research.


Shacking the frame: “Game” in East Asia & South Korean game studies slide by Solip Park



Solip Park is a current NoVA student and a former Researcher & IR Coordinator at Nexon Computer Museum (South Korea). Solip is pursuing her research focusing on game for learning, with the concentration on lifelong learning in digital era and game/computer museum exhibition and pedagogy. You can find more about Solip at: www.parksolip.com