Northern Star Symposium

Northern Star Symposium 2021 - Apophenia

The Journalism Research Group organises the first Northern Star Symposium, aiming to organise annual, international meetings for underexplored research topics.

Start date:

09 December 2021 10:00

End date:

10 December 2021 16:00


"Jenny" Auditorium, Samfunnet, Bodø

​The 2021 topic is "Apophenia" - the sense that there is a pattern even if there is none. Apophenia is why we for instance see images in the stars and clouds, or construct conspiracy theories. 

This symposium has guests from Denmark, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, USA, Canada and Norway, gathering to discuss how Apophenia can be a relevant term to understand organisation, comprehension, meaning making anduser/player behaviour.

Host: Journalism research group, Faculty of Social Sciences, Nord University.

Organiser: Torill Mortensen 

Programme committee: Lisbeth Klastrup, IT University of Copenhagen; Tanja Sihvonen, University of Vaasa; Susana Tosca, Roskilde University.

There is a limited number of spaces available, please contact for more information.

December 9th​

​Coffee and registration
​Welcome and introduction
Torill Mortensen

Apophenia and pattern recognition – how humans navigate in complex communication environments.

​Keynote, Leland Masek

Apophenia in Playful Experience: Why Let Reality Get in the Way? 

Based upon an interview dataset of 105 stories of playful experiences, Leland Masek will investigate the role of Apophenia in playfulness. Furthermore a self-aware quality of playful dissociation from external reality and norms will be expounded upon to connect it to a generalized context for apophenia.​


Presentation and commentary

Tomasz Z. Majkowski: Pattern recognition, digital games and pseudo-history, from Atlantis to Great Lehina Empire
Commenter: Mia Consalvo

Tanja Sihvonen: Artificial Apophenia
Commenter: Jaroslav Švelch​


Presentation and commentary

Mike Hyslop Graham: Apophenia in relation to Mislearning in Games; Apophenic Reasoning as a Process in Play
Commenter: Andrew Phelps​

Kristine Jørgensen: Against apophenia: locating meaning in videogames
Commenter: Lisbeth Klastrup​


​Coffee and summary of the day

This session will elect a note-taker and a chairman from the participants, and will be a discussion of how the topics presented can inspire further work.​

​Dinner at Bølgen og Moi, Bodø

December 10th

​Presentation and commentary

Mia Consalvo and Andrew Phelps: Playing as an NPC: Systematizing Ethical Reflection in Game Design
Commenter: Kristine Jørgensen and Mike Hyslop Graham​

Keynote, Joleen Blom

Character Apophenia: Finding meaning in Genshin Impact

In light of the seminar’s apophenia theme, Joleen will discuss how transmedial characters connect different media platforms, products, and stories together, luring consumers from different fronts into a shared meaning that was not there before. Using her pre-liminary findings on the free-to-play game Genshin Impact (miHoYo 2020), she explains how the game draws upon a set of character proliferation techniques that creates such a shared meaning in order to mobilize players into full consumption of the franchise.

Lunch - please wear good shoes and warm clothes

Presentation and commentary

Lisbeth Klastrup: “They must have known about it” - the formation of a suspicious public following the disclosure of a cancer hoax.
Commenter: Tomasz Z. Majkowski

Jaroslav Švelch: Making monsters presentable: the patterns of monstrosity in video games.
Commenter: Tanja Sihvonen​


Coffee, cakes and general assembly

For the general assembly a chairman and note-taker will be elected among the participants. For this session we will continue the conversations concerning further work, but also discuss the next Northern Star Symposium, topic and date.​

Official thank you to all participants

​Informal programme for those who stay until December 11th. 

Keynote speakers

Leland Masek is a PhD student studying at Tampere University and researcher at the Center Of Excellence in Game Culture Studies. He has an MS in Game Studies from Tampere University and a BA in Economics and Performance Studies from Vassar College. He is leading the Playful Life Project, a research project funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation focusing on playful experience across culture and its connections to well being.

Joleen Blom is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies at Tampere University. She holds a BA degree in Japan Studies, an MA degree in Media and Performance Studies, and a PhD in Game Studies from the Center for Computer Games at the IT University of Copenhagen, where she was a member of the ERC Advanced grant project Making Sense of Games (MSG). Her research interests include transmedia storytelling, Japanese games and culture, characters, and parasocial connections and intimacy through technology and media.​

Start date:

09 December 2021 10:00

End date:

10 December 2021 16:00


"Jenny" Auditorium, Samfunnet, Bodø