From 20 August 2018 09:00 to 24 August 2018 17:00

Summer School “Multidisciplinary Game Research - Between Theory and Practice”

This summer course provides a multidisciplinary perspective on games and play in contemporary culture, combining current research trajectories in game analysis and design with insights into the socially transformative potential of applied games in particular.

The program comprises workshops by senior researchers from the Center for Game Research (Utrecht University/UU), the Departments for “Media and Culture Studies” and “Information and Computing Sciences” (UU), the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development (UU), and the Professorship for Interactive Digital Narrative (University of Arts Utrecht/HKU). All workshops will combine lecture segments and critical discussions with hands-on experimental applications and group exercises.

Theme and Tracks

Games play an increasingly important role in areas like education, healthcare, safety, urban planning, sustainability, the creative industries, entertainment and other cultural, technological as well as socio-economic sectors. To address this complexity, the summer school is divided into two interrelated tracks, which combine perspectives on games from the humanities, the computer sciences and the social sciences.

The first track covers state-of-the art approaches in Game Analysis and Design. Apart from formally investigating the design and rhetoric of individual games, this track also includes practice-based approaches such as experimental game-making and Let’s Play videos to capture the impact that games have on the players. Participants will create and modify their own design experiments, combining audio-visual design, writing and gameplay to explore how games can craft stories and convey persuasive messages.

The second track focuses on Applied Games, specifically with regard to education, health and social change. These workshops will discuss and illustrate using case studies how games are used in formal learning and professional training contexts, how they can raise awareness of important social issues such as climate change and political radicalization, as well as how they can stimulate physical and mental health, especially if played with the body rather than a controller. Participants will learn to use and evaluate applied games, using sample applications developed at Utrecht University as case studies.

Target group

The summer school is aimed at students (from ambitious BA and MA/MSc students to PhD candidates) and industry professionals, who are interested in the analysis, design and social benefits of (computer) games and play in contemporary society. It offers students an innovative platform, combining theoretical and practical approaches to develop a multidisciplinary understanding of games as a software technology, a form of cultural expression, and a social phenomenon.

Day-to-day program

(This is a tentative schedule that might be subject to change.)

GSDT = Game Studies and Design Track, AGT = Applied Games Track

Saturday 18th/Sunday 19th of August
12:00 - 18:00 Accomodation/key pick-up

You will find the exact key pick up location in the pre-departure information, which becomes available after you have paid the course fee.

Monday 20th of August, "Game Analysis"
09:00 - 09:30 Opening

Introduction and Welcome Address

09:30 - 12:30 Lecture

(Let’s) Play as Method (GSDT)

Dr. René Glas

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch


13:30 - 17:00 Workshop

Practice-based Research Methods in Game Analysis (GSDT

Dr. Stefan Werning

18:00 Dinner

Welcome dinner (location TBD)

Tuesday 21st of August, “Educational Games”
09:00 - 12:30 Lecture/Workshop

Games for Learning (AGT

Prof. Wouter van Joolingen

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch


13:30 - 17:00 Workshop

Communicate! Using games for professional training (AGT)

Prof. Johan Jeuring & Michiel Hulsbergen

18:00 Workshop/Panel

Workshop in collaboration with SETUP
(to be confirmed)

Wednesday 22nd of August, "Persuasive Games"
09:00 - 12:30 Workshop

Eco-Games. Using persuasive games to improve climate awareness and policies (AGT)

Dr. Joost Vervoort/Astrid Mangnus

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch


13:30 - 17:30 Workshop

Using analytical game vignettes to research and teach persuasive game design (GSDT

Dr. Jasper van Vught, Dr. Stefan Werning

Thursday 23rd of August, "Games & Narrative"
09:00 - 12:30 Workshop

Principles of Interactive Digital Narrative (IDN) design (GSDT)

Prof. Hartmut Koenitz + colleagues

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch


13:30 - 17:00 Lecture/Workshop

Narrative functions of sound and music in games and IDNs (GSDT)

Dr. Michiel Kamp

19:00 Optional social programme

A Murder in Utrecht (location-based game)

Sjors Martens

Friday 24th of August
08:00 - 09:00 Accommodation room key drop off


09:00 - 10:00 Demo/Tour

Mo-Cap Lab demo (AGT)

Chris Christyowidiasmoro

10:00 - 12:00 Workshop

Playing games with your body (AGT)

Dr. Ronald Poppe

12:00 - 13:00 Lunch


13:00 - 15:00 Workshop

Movement-based games for health (AGT)

Dr. Monique Simons

15:00 - 16:00 Closing

Wrap up, bites and drinks

Start date and time
20 August 2018 09:00
End date and time
24 August 2018 17:00
Entrance fee
€ 300 (Course fee + course materials), Housing: € 200.00 (through Utrecht Summer School)
More information
Utrecht Summer School