Games that Make you Think - A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Applied Games

Organizing institution
Utrecht University - Faculty of Humanities
Course code
Course fee (excl. housing)
€ 300.00
Advanced Bachelor
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This summer course addresses state-of-the-art methods for analyzing game design and social applications of digital games through workshops that combine theory and design practice. Each day is dedicated to a different topic, ranging from experimental games and game culture, over games for learning, persuasive games, new forms of game-based storytelling to games played with the whole body. Apart from the interactive workshops, ‘interludes’ like a pervasive game experience, a workshop on games and/as art with digital agency SETUP and a tour of the Mo-Cap Lab at Utrecht University round off the summer school.
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 the Study of Digital Games and Play (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.

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.

The summer school is offered by the Utrecht Center for Game Research.

Course director

dr. Stefan Werning

Target audience

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.

Study load

There are ca. 8 hours of contact per day. These include lectures, workshops, demos and social events.


Course fee
€ 300.00
Housing fee
€ 200.00

Housing through Utrecht Summer School

More information

Stefan Werning s.werning@uu.nl


Application deadline: 12 August 2019