Work and play

June 28, 2020

As I’ve previously mentioned on the blog, I work as a researcher (or rather, a postdoctoral researcher to use the correct term). While most of my work focuses on digital gaming, it’s nice to have some side projects, as with miniatures! And speaking of miniatures, I’ve done some research on them with two brilliant colleagues, and our paper has just been published in Simulation & Gaming.

Definitely what my work looks like

Miniaturing has been researched surprisingly little compared to role-playing games, let alone digital gaming. If there’s anything years of hobbying has taught me, there’s a lot of interesting stuff (scientific formulation, that) going on. As the name suggests, our paper, More Than Wargaming: Exploring the Miniaturing Pastime, is a look at the various dimensions of this pastime.

You can access the paper through the link in the name, and it’s fully Open Access – meaning that it isn’t behind a paywall as is commonly the case with research articles. Should you be in the mood for an academic exploration of what we do, dive right in! It would be very interesting to hear your thoughts on the paper: do you feel that it captures the phenomenon? It should be a light enough read. If you don’t want to spend your time reading it, here are the conclusions we arrived at:

The data presented in this paper illustrates how miniaturing is a multifaceted activity with a dual core. Gaming with miniatures and crafting new ready figurines, scenery, and dioramas are central to miniaturing, but collecting, storytelling, socializing as well as displaying and appreciating are also important parts of the pastime. The pastime can be situated and framed in numerous fashions: for example as gaming, as playing, as toying, and as crafting. None of these framings apply to all of our respondents, but all of them are relevant to some subsection. Some of them are actively contested, such as viewing miniaturing as playing with toys, but even the contested approaches seem like fertile angles of approach in future research.

Now, to a miniatures enthusiast this obviously isn’t big news – although there might be some new and interesting perspectives in there. This is, however, to our knowledge the first academic paper to really tackle what this great pastime of ours “is all about”, so it builds a foundation for more research in the future. For example, we have a paper on so-called “piles of shame” in the works…

Although combining hobbies and work can sometimes be detrimental to the hobby side, I’m definitely enjoying this foray. Hopefully it also opens up the subject to other academics as well, and provides fellow hobbyists with an interesting look into game and play research.


  1. Downloaded to read a bit later! 🙂 Looking forward to it!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks John, let me know what you think!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Just finished reading through it! Interesting! Very well written! 🙂 The six aspects of “miniaturing” make sense and there were a few things I hadn’t considered! Thanks for sharing! Feedback from those who completed questionnaires and have also read the paper will no doubt prove interesting!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks John, much appreciated! Would be interesting to hear what were the things that were novel to you 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        • It was mainly in connection with some of the comments by people in each of the six aspects.  I think I balance most of these aspects, although storytelling is maybe not as prominent because I predominantly play historic games.  I was quite surprised that in some cases people were quite emphatic about one specific aspect e.g. they like gaming to the detriment of all else, but I suppose that sort of person is very competitive (which I’m not, well, OK except with Crimson Skies) and that does therefore make sense!  In a similar vein, I would imagine that those people with narcissistic personalities like to show off their minis to receive the attention that it attracts!

          I must admit that I’ve never easily owned up to “miniaturing” outside of my usual social circles, because I’ve tended to think that it will be viewed as childish.  On the other hand, such attitudes are not a poor reflection on me necessarily, but on the person/s making such judgements.  Those people that have been receptive have genuinely been interested in what is, quite a demanding and absorbing hobby.  I think it’d be interesting to see if any comparisons could be made between exponents of historic and non-historic miniaturing and also how attitudes compare with something like railway modelling.

          Hope this makes some sense and apologies for rattling on a bit!

          Liked by 2 people

        • Definitely no need for apologies, thanks for taking the time to write this out! As I’m approaching this both as a researcher and a hobbyist, it’s really interesting to hear how people engage with our work. A lot of academic work sadly stays in academia, so I’m really happy to be able to share this with a larger audience 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Just downloaded as well. It’s too late at night for me to read an acadmic paper (even a light one) and my body is smashed right now. I’ll comment again with some feedback after I’ve read it. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Azazel! For a moment I forgot you’re down under, it’s 3PM here 😀

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Just downloaded it now. As you know I’ve started my PhD and I’m in the lit review phase so this couldn’t have come at a better time.



    Liked by 3 people

    • That brilliant to hear, hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. As a lifetime enthusiast, it was pleasant to read a piece like that without having face-palm moments when the author has obviously got the wrong end of the stick. No mention of beholders and D20s in 40k games to make me twitch.

    The entire piece rang true. It stayed focused on the core focus of “miniaturing” (it’s so odd that you had to coin a term for it. A badly needed term BTW) without blurring the issue into say, bust painting, cosplay, RPGs, while still referencing them for example.

    I enjoyed that, good stuff Mikko!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Downloaded and will read this week Mikko

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] one was a bit more abstract, but I’ll do another yes here. I’ve published actual peer-reviewed research on miniaturing and been quite active online as well. I’ve found that as years go by, this […]


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