This is a list of our current research projects. Recently completed projects can be found below. You can also find out more about our research in our magazine


The chemical industry in Europe faces stiff competition as it fights to strengthen its position in the global market place. Europe’s greatest asset is its human capital, but the people working in such a technology-based environment, with the rise of the “smart factories” of Industry 4.0, need to be very well qualified. The situation of yesteryear, where a person could be trained to carry out a job for the whole of his/her career has long since gone; now the situation is one of developing skills and competencies, but then being able to adapt, re-learn and be able to cross sectors and disciplines in a world of work that is dynamic and subject to constant change. Continuous professional development, the stimulation of creative thinking and the motivation of youngsters for science & technology are high on the EU’s agenda. Recent developments in immersive learning technologies are providing exciting new tools for teaching and training programmes, yet they remain underutilised in science & technology education, and nowhere is this more true than in the field of chemistry and chemical engineering. CHARMING, the European Training Network for CHemicAl EngineeRing IMmersive LearnING, takes on this challenge by developing learning strategies, content and prototypes for the application of games and virtual/augmented reality for motivating, teaching and training children, students and employees in chemistry, chemical engineering and chemical operations. The inter-sectorial and interdisciplinary CHARMING ETN consists of leading universities and industry participants and trains 15 ESRs in the areas of innovative chemical engineering, instructional psychology & pedagogy and immersive technology. CHARMING’s success is based on integrating these three areas in order to provide Europe with its highly trained young experts who are ready to help motivating, training and integrating the next-generation human capital of the European chemical industry and beyond.

Partners: KVE, BASF, ACTA ACTA , University of Duisburg-Essen UDE

  • Project members UU: Dr. Lisette Hornstra, Dr. Pieter Wouters, Dr. Bert Slof, Dr. Marieke van der Schaaf, Prof. Johan Jeuring, Prof. Liesbeth Kester
  • November 2018 – March 2022

  • Funding: H2020-MSCA-ITN-2018 (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks)

The Virtual Supermarket

The Virtual Supermarket is developed to measure cognitive deficits after brain damage. Feasibility and user experience studies are well underway. With the new grant, cognitive complaints of patients with brain damage are related to performances on traditional neuropsychological assessment (pen-and-paper tests) as well as performances in the virtual supermarket (e.g. way finding, eye tracking, accuracy, total time needed). The traditional tests have very low predictive value with respect to cognitive functioning in complex dynamic situations of daily living. It is hypothesised that assessment with VR simulations such as the VR supermarket is much more sensitive and therefore has much higher predictive value. 

Partners: Kenniscentrum Revalidatiegeneeskunde Utrecht (De Hoogstraat Revalidatie, UMC Utrecht, Hersencentrum), Atoms2Bits, 2SQRS LAB

  • Project members UU: Dr. Tanja Nijboer
  • 2018-2019
  • Funding: Het Revalidatiefonds
Escaping the Chasm

Utrecht University has set the goal that in 2020 blended learning will be an integral part of the university’s educational model. However, some teachers do not explore technological opportunities that can enhance their teaching. This project aims to introduce teacher teams to new educational technologies in a playful, collaborative way. The project team will develop an escape room in which teacher teams will be voluntarily ‘locked up’. They can only escape by collaboratively solving educational, innovative and technological puzzles. These challenges are designed to raise interest in and curiosity for educational innovations. Also, this experience will better align the perception of usefulness en usability with realty. After this activity, participating teachers will discuss their experiences and possible applications for their own teaching.

  • Project leader UU: drs. Jasper van Winden
  • 2017 - 2018
  • Funding: Utrecht Education Incentive Fund

The main goal of PREHealth is to encourage city dwellers to use urban green and blue spaces more actively. This includes changing attitudes and behaviors towards the role, design, and maintenance of open spaces, through education at all levels: school, university, and adult learning. The project also aims to promote active citizenship, by establishing interactive mechanisms for public participation and co-design, allowing the citizens to take a more active role in creating environments that support healthy lifestyles.

Partners: Technische Universität Darmstadt – coordinating partner; PRISMA-Planning and Research Consultants, Szechenyi Istvan University, three local authorities (the Cities of Darmstadt, Athens, Gyor) and 4 associated partners including the city of Eindhoven

  • Project members UU: Dr. Monique Simons, Wiljan van Wilgenburg MSc, Prof. dr. Martin Dijst
  • 2017 - 2019
  • Funding: Erasmus+
Automated Recognition of Bodily Interactions

The automated understanding of human behavior is a scientific challenge with many applications in society such as in social surveillance, health care and content-based video retrieval. In ARBITER, we research (1) how bodily interactions can best be represented quantitatively, and (2) how to automatically recognize interactions from video data. This approach allows us to robustly classify interactions in both space and time at a fine scale.


  • Project members UU: Dr. Ronald Poppe
  • 2017-2021
  • Funding: NWO TOP C2


Realizing Education through Environments and Augmented Locations

This project will pioneer the use of mainstream PlayStation VR technologies for innovative educational applications which engage world-wide audiences in the Europe’s rich historical and scientific heritage. The resulting technology and tools will provide an infrastructure for creating educational VR experiences and generate new business opportunities outside of Sony’s core gaming activities on the PlayStation platform. In the process it will create inclusive narrative-driven VR experiences which improve the social and physical accessibility of cultural heritage and contribute to the digital preservation of historical sites.
Partners: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Sony Sheffield Hallam University, Jenner Trust, UTC Sheffield Academy Trust (UK), VRTron Ltd (Malta), CNR (Italy)

  • Project members UU: Dr. Herre van Oostendorp, dr. Egon van den Broek, Chris Ferguson
  • 2017-2019
  • Funding: Horizon2020 ICT-24-2016
Games and social change: In-between screens, places and communities

This network explored the burgeoning ‘Games for change’ movement that has emerged in the last decade, which has appropriated to engage people beyond entertainment. A growing number of artists, educationalists and activities are developing games that contend with personal, social and political subject matter, e.g. poverty, immigration, fiscal crisis, with the explicit intention of altering or affecting player opinion outside of the game world.

Partners: Manchester Metropolitan University (UK)

  • Project members UU: Prof.dr. Joost Raessens, Drs. Niels Hoogendoorn
  • 2013-2015
  • Funding: Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK) – Game changing research networks for the Video game industry
Playful Active Urban Living

The current project aims to get insight in how mobile personalized technology can motivate urban residents to become physically active. More specifically, we aim to gain insight into the effectiveness of elements within an exercise app (motivational feedback, goal setting, individualized messages, gaming elements (gamification)) for making people more physically active, and how the effectiveness depends on characteristics of the individual and the urban setting. This results in a flexible exercise app for inactive citizens based on theories in data mining, machine learning, exercise psychology, behavioral change and gamification. The project contributes to the development of theories on sustainable behavioral change via personalized technologies.

Partners: University of Amsterdam (UvA), Applied University of Amsterdam (HvA), Federal University of São Paulo (Brazil), city of Utrecht, city of Amsterdam,, ZappYou, Amsterdam Smart City.

  • Project members UU: Dr. Monique Simons, dr. Dick Ettema
  • 2017-2021
  • Funding: NWO/SIA/FAPESP-program Data-driven research on Sports & Healthy Living
The X-Games

The interpretation of medical images to establish diseases (radiology) is a very complex skill with great clinical implications. Learning this skill requires an intensive training program according to the principles of deliberate practice: intensive training focused on specific tasks, complete with feedback and the possibility to repeat and refine. Serious gaming facilitates these training principles by adding gaming elements which stimulate motivation (engagement) as well as the learning activity itself.

The goal of this project is to develop, validate and evaluate a serious game for radiology education, with a target audience of bachelor medical students, aimed at improving their image interpretation skills.

Partners: VQuest

  • Project members: Drs. A. van der Gijp, Dr. M.F. van der Schaaf, Dr. I.C. van der Schaaf, Drs. C. Mol, Dr. ir. K.L. Vincken, Dr. C.J. Ravesloot
  • 2017-2018
  • Funding: SURF
Imaginative Scenario Planning for Law Enforcement Organizations

The project develops the competence to critically imagine and strategically plan for a future other than traditional law enforcement planning strategies and mechanisms currently allow for. Participants will co-design a toolkit to facilitate creative, novel and relevant scenario planning. These methods include deductive and inductive scenario approaches as well as morphological scenario development, simulation gaming and information assemblages. The combination of disciplines and expertise guarantees an innovative and creative approach to data collection that brings new knowledge to the scenario planning debate from law, politics and security, organizational anthropology and creative methods, scenario planning and systems resilience, and gaming and new media.

Partners: Coventry University, Oxford Brookes University, National Crime Agency (NCA)

  • Project members UU: Dr. Ingrid Hoofd, Dr Joost Vervoort
  • May 2017 – April 2019
  • Funding: Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CREST), United Kingdom


TeCoLa project

TeCoLa harnesses gamified telecollaboration technologies to enhance foreign language teaching and learning. Virtual world interaction, video communication and online games are deployed to support online pedagogical exchanges between secondary school students throughout Europe. Special attention is given to authentic communication practice in the foreign language, intercultural experience, awareness raising and competence development, collaborative knowledge discovery in contexts of content and language integrated learning, and learning diversity and differentiated pedagogical practices.

Partners: LINK, Germany. University of Roehampton, United Kingdom. University of Antwerp, Belgium. University of Valencia, Spain. Transit-Lingua, France. 3DLES, The Netherlands.

  • Project members UU: Dr. MK Jauregi Ondarra
  • 2016-2019
  • Funding: Erasmus+

Within this Initial Training Network, UU and Noldus IT will develop a tracking system which uses a mobile camera mounted on the subject (egocentric video). New algorithms will be developed to calculate the location of the subject from the video sequences. By combining with other body worn systems (e.g. accelorometers), methods will be developed to detect a range of behaviours, e.g. social interaction, loneliness, falls, changes by mild stroke.

Partners: Noldus IT.


  • Project members UU: Dr. Ronald Poppe, Prof.dr. Remco Veltkamp
  • 2016-2019
  • Funding: Marie Sklodowska-Curie EU Framework for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020, under Grant Agreement No. 676157
Serious gaming based on preconceptions to promote conceptual development in physics education

In this modern technological era possibilities to create alternative realities in game environments are endless. Students come into a classroom with preconceptions that has arisen out of daily life. These preconceptions cannot be ignored, but instead should be used in learning activities. In the present research an alternative reality in a game environment will be used to address students’ preconceptions.


  • Anne van der Linden MSc, Prof. Dr. Wouter van Joolingen, Dr. Nico Rutten, Dr. Ir. Ralph Meulenbroeks 

  • 2016-2021

  • Funding: Promodoc

Powersaver Game: Gamification in a household energy game

This research project will give insight into what the influence of gamification is on energy consumption in households by means of electricity and gas usage and on attitudes towards sustainable energy use at home. For this project Powersaver Game is designed that is to be used as a research instrument that will allow us to investigate different factors and that could strengthen the change in attitude and behaviour. Since our aim is an effective transfer between the game world and real world, we introduced gamification elements from the real world, by energy saving activities, in the game. Powersaver Game is used in a series of experiments. First, the game will be compared with a control (non-game) version. Next, features such as feedback, personal relevance and competition will be examined. 

Partners: Inholland University of Applied Sciences, BeNext, Oogwenk, ToekomstGroep

  • Project members UU: Jan Dirk Fijnheer, Herre van Oostendorp, Remco Veltkamp
  • 2014-2018
  • Funding: Inholland University of Applied Sciences
Depict: DEsigning and Policy Implementation for encouraging Cycling and walking Trips

By applying immersive simulation technology and stated-preference methods this project is focused on developing an in-depth understanding of the meaning of attributes of e.g. the bicycle and walking infrastructure, traffic rush, gradients, urbanization degrees, and greenness in stimulating walking and cycling for various population categories in The Netherlands and São Paulo. The results will be used for policy recommendations in both countries.

Partners: University of Oxford, University of São Paulo

  • Site leader for Utrecht University: Prof. Dr. Martin Dijst (Geosciences)
  • 2015-2018
  • Funding: FAPESP-ESRC-NWO Joint Call for Transnational Collaborative Research Projects
Graduate Programme Game Research

The focus of the Graduate Programme Game Research  lies on the computer science and humanities aspects of games. We perform research and education on the development, application and socio-cultural context of (serious) games and simulations, for example with regard to persuasive technologies and interaction, artificial intelligence, software technology, and virtual worlds, in relation to subject areas like playful-smart cities, health, education, and safety.

  • Project leaders: Prof.dr. Remco Veltkamp, Prof.dr. Joost Raessens; Dr. Stefan Werning
  • 2013-2018
  • Funding: NWO Graduate Programme

L2TOR (say ‘el tutor’) is a new project which will start beginning 2016. It is a Horizon 2020 funded collaborative project, led by Plymouth University, in which social robots will be programmed to provide dual language instruction to 4-year-olds. In the current project robots will be designed and programmed to provide language input in Dutch-English, Dutch-Turkish, German-English, German-Turkish, and Turkish-English. Utrecht University is in charge of designing ‘lessons’ series, that is, structured interaction-activity scenarios in the domains spatial, mathematical, and mental state language. In addition, Utrecht University is responsible for the three-country evaluation study in the final year of the project. 

Partners: Plymouth University, Tilburg University, Bielefeld University, Koc University

  • Project members: Paul Leseman, Ora Oudgenoeg, Sanne van der Ven
  • 2016-2019
  • funding: Horizon 2020
Go Go Gozo: Field-based learning - multidisciplinary mobile mapping methods

An ongoing field-based encounter between students and staff from different disciplines, bringing together students with academic researchers from Geography, Sociology, Development Studies, Geoinformatics, Game Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies and New Media Studies in order to explore the links between mapping, mobility and play.

Partners: University of Manchester (UK), University of Warwick (UK)

  • Project members UU: Drs. Alex Gekker, Dr. René Glas
  • 2015-2017
  • Funding: Erasmus +
The preservation of digital games as Dutch cultural heritage

This research project has set up the first unified effort between game research, cultural heritage institutions and the Dutch game industry. It seeks answers to questions around definition, preservation, archiving and exhibition of the history of Dutch digital games and game development.

Partner: Sound and Vision

  • Project Members UU: Dr René Glas, Dr. Jasper van Vught
  • 2015-2017
  • Funding: NWO Museumbeurs and Utrecht University Focus Area Game Research seed money grant.  
Persuasive gaming. From theory-based design to validation and back

The research in this project is concerned with the characteristics, design principles, and effectiveness of persuasive gaming. We study gaming practices that combine the dissemination of information with attempts to engage players in particular behaviors and attitudes.

Partners: Erasmus University Rotterdam, Eindhoven University of Technology, Submarine, IJsfontein

  • Project leader: Prof.dr. Joost Raessens; Dr. Teresa de la Hera
  • 2013-2017
  • Funding: NWO Creative Industry

Recently Completed Projects

VIEWW - Virtual worlds for well-being

In this project we do research on affective body animation, crowd simulation, biomechanical animation, computational modelling of music emotion, and video analysis of human interaction. The game is crowd sourcing tool to collect data about perceived emotion in music.

Partners: University of Amsterdam, University of Twente, Waag Society, CGI, Inreda Diabetic,, Elitac BV, DIGIFiT, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Motek Medical, 8D Games

  • Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Remco Veltkamp, dr. Zerrin Yumak, dr. Frans Wiering, dr. Roland Gerearts, 
    dr. ir. R.W. (Ronald) Poppe
  • 2012-2017
  • Funding: FES fund
RAGE – Realising an Applied Gaming Eco-system

The goal of the RAGE project is to support the EU based industry for non-leisure games (applied games) amongst others by developing an interoperable set of advanced technology assets tuned to applied gaming, and by showing how these technology assets are used in applied games. Utrecht University will particularly contribute to the assets for interactions and assessment, social agents, and embodiment and physical interaction.

Partners: Open Universiteit Nederland, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, INESC ID, Playgen ltd, Okkam srl, FTK forschungsinstitut fur telekommunikation und kooperation ev, The University of Bolton, Technische Universität Graz, Inmark Estudios y Estrategias sa, Universiteit Utrecht,Uuniversitatea Politehnica din Bucuresti, Nurogames gmbh, Bip Media sarl, Sofiiski Universitet Sveti Kliment Ohridski, Stichting Praktijkleren, Gameware Europe Limite, Ministério da  Justiça, Groupe Randstad France, Hull College of Further Education

BEAT IT! Training behavioural control in adolescents

In a rapidly changing environment in which technology plays a major role in the lives of adolescents, there is strong need to develop an intervention that meets the needs of these youngsters. Media and games have become a fact of live, and for that reason we will employ the concept of serious gaming for the development of an intervention for increasing self-control among adolescents. The main focus is to develop a game which is fun to play and will keep adolescents motivated to finish the training/game. The game will include evidence-based training paradigm’s, however these paradigm’s are incorporated in such manner that they are not explicitly visible for the player.

The game will be designed by students of the Game Technology study in corporation with a Game Design Studio.

Partners: Shosho Amsterdam (Game Design Studio)

  • Project leader: dr. Margot Peeters
  • Robbert Jan Beun,  Wouter Boendermaker MSc, dr. Rens van de Schoot, prof. dr. Remco Veltkamp
  •  2015-2016
  • Funding: Dynamics of Youth (DoY) 
Simulations and Simulation Games in Academic Education

A project aimed to develop and sustain simulations and simulations games within Utrecht University’s institution-wide academic education. The goals is to support teaching staff to use simulations and simulation games to realizing learning goals; develop and train core competencies of students; to train students to work in multidisciplinary settings around complex issues; to connect educational education to changing ways of learning of contemporary students.

  • Project leader: Dr. Tom Overmans
  • 2014-2016
  • Funding: Utrechts Stimuleringsfonds Onderwijs 

Communicate! is project that develops the Virtual Patient, a serious game for practicing communication skills. It supports practicing interpersonal communication skills by interacting with a virtual character that responds to choices of a player and displays emotions. Besides a playing environment, Communicate! offers an editor for scenarios. A scenario is a graph-like structure, extended with several constructs to avoid the development of repetitive structures. The research in the project focuses on scenario development, and several aspects and technologies related to learning. 


Utrecht municipality

  • Project leader: Prof.dr. Johan Jeuring
  • 2013 - 2016
  • Funding: Educate-IT
SAGE –Serious Games Pathway within the Undergraduate IT Programs

SAGE aims to develop a sustainable serious games curriculum in the undergraduate IT programs of the four consortium universities from Palestine and Tunisia.

Partners: Birzeit University and Al-Quds University (Palestine), University of Sousse and University of Sfax (Tunisia), RWTH Aachen (Germany), Utrecht University, Stockholm University (Sweden)

  • Project member: Dr. Ir. Frank van der Stappen, Dr. Ir. Arjan Egges
  • 2013-2016
  • Funding: EU Tempus Program
SleepCare- Persuasive Technology for Personalized Sleep Coaching

The goal of the project is to develop computerized strategies to improve exercise adherence. A mobile e-coaching system has been developed that uses strategies from gaming and persuasive technology in the domain of insomnia therapy.

Partners: Delft University of Technology, University of Amsterdam, Philips

  • Project leader: Dr. Ir. Robbert Jan Beun
  • 2012-2016
  • Funding: STW-Philips-NIHC
ERC Starting Grant: Charting the Digital – Digital Mapping Practices as New Media Cultures

The key objective of this research programme is to investigate to what extent and how digital maps can be considered as new techno-cultural phenomena that have altered our way of being in and moving through our spatial environments. Part of this research project investigates playful mapping practices that people nowadays engage with.

Partners: University of Warwick (UK), University of Manchester (UK)

  • Project members UU: Drs. Alex Gekker
  • 2011-2016
  • Funding: European Research Council
Growing Games

Growing Games is a stimulation programme to foster the durable grow of the Dutch applied game sector.

Partners: Dutch Game Garden, Izovator, TNO, Economic Board Utrecht, IMMovator, ClickNL Games, Dutch Games Association, HKU, Hogeschool Utrecht, Kamer van koophandel, Spil Games, CbuzineZ, Hanegraaf, FreedomLab, aBSRD, Center for Applied Games, Dasym, Koninklijke Landmacht, Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Ministerie van Defensie, KPMG, Games for Health, AMC, Game World Consultants, Hilversum Mediastad, Provincie Utrecht

  • Project member: Prof. Dr. Remco Veltkamp
  • 2013-2016
  • Funding: province of Utrecht
COGITCH – COgnition Guided Interoperability beTween Collections of musical Heritage

This project researches which musical features make you remember a fragment well. Through the game we collect data about those hooks in music.

Partners: University of Amsterdam, Meertens Institute, Sound & Vision

  • Project leader: Prof. Dr. Remco Veltkamp
  • 2011-2015
  • Funding: NWO CATCH
Scientific games for education

In this project we aimed to respond to the call of the cTWO (commissie Toekomst Wiskunde Onderwijs, Commission Future of Math Education) for making more use of ICT in the classroom and for the further appliance of math in authentic contexts. We did so by designing a first prototype of a 3D world that offers high school students a relevant authentic context in order to develop active mathematical thinking, one of the spear points of the new math curriculum for both havo and vwo. This relevant context is shaped by the history of mathematics, which is currently not a part of Dutch high school curricula. In the envisioned game, history, enriched with relevant heritage objects from Museum Boerhaave, will serve as a narrative to create practical, technical and scientific situations (contexts) in which math is used as a tool to solve a certain problem.

Partners: Museum Boerhaave, Huygens ING, QLVR, Brill Publishers

  • Project leaders: Prof. dr. Toine Pieters, prof. dr. Remco Veltkamp
  • Period: August 2014-June 2015
  • Funding: NWO KIEM and Utrecht University Focus area Game Research
European Summerschool in Game Research 2014

This Summer School was hosted by Utrecht University, but organized by different European universities that are considered as leaders in the field. It consisted of a two-week intensive programme during which students were encouraged to develop their research ideas further. It provided a unique opportunity to learn about cutting-edge theories and methodologies from leading scholars in the field. Students had the rare opportunity to broaden their horizon internationally, and gained knowledge about games and play from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Partners: Erasmus University Rotterdam, Eindhoven University of Technology, University of Warwick, (UK), University of Tampere, (Finland), Leuphana University (Germany)

  • Project leader: Prof.dr. Joost Raessens; Dr. René Glas, Dr. Teresa de la Hera, drs. Alex Gekker, drs. Stephanie de Smale
  • 2013-2015
  • Funding: EP Nuffic
Creative Territories: Exploring Innovation in Indie Game Production Contexts and Connections

This network brought together leading international and UK scholars, indie games developers and creative industry stakeholders to examine this transformation of the young but highly significant video games industry to identify how it makes possible new kinds of cultural production, collaboration and creativity.

Partners: University West of England (UK), Dutch Game Garden

  • Project members UU: Dr. Stefan Werning, Prof.dr. Joost Raessens, Drs. Stephanie de Smale
  • 2013-2015
  • Funding: Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK) – Game changing research networks for the Video game industry