Ville Malinen: Waving the Pixelated Chequered Flag

Representation, simulation and gamification: building an attractive media image with affection, consumption and participation. Photo credit: Ville Malinen.

I am a doctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä, currently located in Helsinki. I graduated from University of Turku in 2019 as Master of Arts majoring in media studies. My minor studies included cultural history, sociology, economic sociology and political history. In my works I have focused on the relationship between media and motorsports and the vast cultural and societal connections they have.

I am currently writing my upcoming doctoral dissertation about the synergy of motorsports and sim racing and what future consequences these collaborations might have. The dissertation will be article-based and includes four articles.

I have so far published one Finnish article about the simulated relationship between motorsports and esports as collaborative and rival forms of competition. In this article I consider the possibilities of this synergy between two different forms of racing competition. This article shall be the first of the four articles of my dissertation and was published during the fall of 2019 via Jyväskylä School of Economics.

More recently I have written the first version of my second dissertation article, in which I will analyze what kind of and how images of F1 driver and F1 Esports Pro Series sim racer personas are built and maintained in social media.

At the moment I am finishing the first conference ready draft of my third dissertation article. The focus of this article is the current institutional status between sim racing as a form of esports and motorsports regarding their ethical and sustainable structure and resources to cope in the media sport field of the future.

I’m also working on a French-Finnish research article about the history and status of sim racing in Europe and East-Asia and Oceania with two colleagues as the second writer. This article is meant to be ready for peer-review in 2023.

Regarding possible additional research, I am also interested to find out how do sim racers and motorsport fans understand their fluid position for being spectators, fans, gamers, and professional drivers, sometimes simultaneously.

These current and previous research projects are in-line with my bachelor’s and master’s thesis. These two have dealt with the media relationship and socio-cultural significance of motorsports. In my bachelor’s thesis I studied how pay-per-view sports have developed in Finland by analyzing the development and content of Formula One broadcasting. In my master’s thesis I analyzed how two different medias, one in Finland and one in Great Britain, wrote about problematic Formula One races in 2010’s (Bahrain and Russia), and hence affected and (re)build the image of the whole sport for the people following and consuming the sport with F1 related news these medias published.

The motive for this focus and specialization in my studies is besides my long, personal, and yet critical interest the fact that despite the grown relationship between racing games and “real-life” racing at professional level, these two forms of spectacular media sports are somewhat underrepresented in academic studies, despite their potential and significance as socio-cultural and economical phenomena. Simulated racing is still a somewhat minor field of interest in game studies such as motorsports are also in cultural and media studies. Combining these two study subjects provides an interesting perspective to understand future developments in media, entertainment, sports, gaming, and underlining their societal, economical, and cultural significance as global media culture projects.

Author bio and contact: Ville Malinen is a doctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä and a freelance journalist specialized in cultural phenomena. His academic expertise are the socio-cultural significance and media relationship of motorsports. Malinen is currently working on his dissertation about the synergy and future between esports and motorsports.

Doctoral researcher Ville Malinen. Photo credit: Hilla Kohtamäki.