PhD position on Accommodating Player Differences in Digital Games (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

Uren per week: 
30 tot 40
Faculteit of dienst: 
Faculteit Bètawetenschappen
Department of Information and Computing Sciences, Human-Centred Computing Group
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Join the Human-Centred Computing group of Utrecht University as PhD candidate and contribute to accommodating individual differences in digital games and making all players heard and seen.

With 3 billion people playing digital games, differences between gamers are plentiful. They come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, have different preferences and their experience in the gaming community can depend on their own identity, personality, and perspective. In contrast, game companies often take a utilitarian approach to game design, trying to maximise the appeal for the biggest group of players. This can lead to many games that cater to the same group of players and few games for those with less common preferences or marginalised identities.

As a PhD candidate  in this research project, you work on understanding differences, integrating classifications of player types and contribute to identifying unmet player needs and wants by designing, implementing, or testing game features that help certain player groups feel represented and accommodated.

As part of this position, you will design experiments and evaluate the results. This can include both quantitative methods (e.g., online surveys, randomised controlled trials, field studies) and qualitative methods (e.g., interviews, thematic analysis, focus groups).

This position also offers the opportunity to develop teaching skills  You will spend approximately 15 % of your time on varying teaching support activities.


We are looking for an enthusiastic new colleague who is passionate about making online game communities a more welcoming place for different types of people.

You meet the following criteria:

  • a Master’s degree in Computer Science, Information Science, Human-Computer-Interaction, Game and Media Technology, Psychology, or a related field that equips you to conduct research in this field;
  • Good communicative skills in English, in both writing and speech.

We would also like you to meet several of the following criteria:

  • experience with research methods, experimental design, and statistics;
  • programming skills, design skills and a strong interest in Human-Computer Interaction research;
  • an interest to engage with psychological theories and to apply them to the context of games;
  • a mindset that promotes inclusivity and an awareness for individual differences and how they affect us;
  • concrete ideas on how you would like to apply this topic to digital games.


We offer:

  • a position (0.8-1.0 FTE) for 4 years, available as of March 2024;
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,770 and increases to €3,539 per month in the fourth year (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (CAO));
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions from the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, sports and cultural schemes and you get discounts on software and other IT products. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow.

For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

Over de organisatie

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

At the Faculty of Science, there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects. Find out more about us on YouTube.

The Department of Information and Computing Sciences is nationally and internationally known for its research in computer science and information science. The Department provides and contributes to the undergraduate programmes in Computer Science, Information Science, and Artificial Intelligence and a number of research Master's programmes in these fields. It employs over 200 people, working in four divisions: Interaction, Algorithms, Data Science & Artificial Intelligence and Software. The atmosphere is collegial and informal.

The Human-Centred Computing group is embedded in the Interaction division and conducts research that aims to understand how people use computerised systems in their everyday lives. Our research areas include, amongst others, personalised and adaptive systems, user modelling and recommender systems, persuasive technology, and serious games. You will be working closely with other members in this research group, other research groups within and outside of the faculty, and collaborators from outside of Utrecht University.

Aanvullende informatie

If you have questions about this position, don't hesitate to contact Susanne Poeller (assistant professor in Human-Centred Computing who researches motivation, toxicity and diversity in video games) at 

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to

For more information, please visit working at the Faculty of Science

Are you an international applicant? Our International Service Desk can answer your questions about living in the Netherlands as international staff.


As Utrecht University, we want to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

If you are enthusiastic about this position, just apply via the "Apply now" button. Please enclose:

  • your letter of motivation (1-3 pages);
  • your curriculum vitae;
  • scans of BSc and/or MSc transcripts (incl. grade list), with a certified translation in English if the degree qualification is not in Dutch, German, or English;
  • your MSc-thesis (if not available, then BSc-thesis or a course paper you are proud of); if none of these are in Dutch, German, or English, please add a short abstract or summary in English;
  • optional but encouraged: the names, and email addresses of at least two references;
  • optional: a portfolio of design-work or your other works, which are related to this position. 

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone else who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.

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Uiterlijk reageren op 30 november 2023.