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Video Games for Research


Admission requirements

Bachelor degree (completed). To participate in this course you will need to be comfortable with the basics of programming and the operation of media creation software.


Scientific experiments frequently require participants to carry out tasks under controlled circumstances in ways that resemble game-like scenarios. Some research projects even specifically involve interactive experiences such as video games in order to collect data or to educate people. Designing and conducting game-based research projects requires understanding not just of one's own field of study, but also of the conventions and practical considerations that are part of video game development.

In this course, you will learn how to design and conduct a game-based research project that involves either the modification of an existing video game, or the purposeful development of a new interactive experience. In the process, you will learn about existing 'serious game' projects, recent developments in game research more generally, and technological affordances that can be used in video games and interactive experiences (such as AR/VR or networked interactivity). Course lectures will provide the theoretical foundation for game-based research practices, as well as game design and development principles. Workshops will provide space for related discussion and applied, collaborative development work. At the end of the course, you will have gained the experience of conducting research work with the help of video games, and will be able to apply it in your area of study.

To enjoy this course you should be enthusiastic about experimenting with video games and show curiosity for the medium in general, including the willingness to analyze games that you might not usually choose to play. Game development is a challenging, time-consuming activity that requires collaboration and a wide range of skills. However, taking on this challenge will equip you with the ability to conduct unique and novel research projects.

Course objectives

  • Understand the conceptual principles and conventions of video game design and development.

  • Understand the impacts on game design when developing video games for non-entertainment purposes.

  • Learn how Game AI tools and methods can be integrated into the process in various ways.

  • Study different forms of 'serious games', including entertainment games that support scientific research, and games that seek to educate or inspire critical discourse in society.

  • Explore different forms of measures and research output when conducting game-based research.

  • Gain experience in developing or modifying a video game.

  • Gain experience in conducting game-based research in your field of study (including, but not limited to, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences).

  • Reflect or report on the outcome of your game-based research project.

  • Collaborate with other students and the course lecturers on generating new knowledge for the field of game-based research.


The timetable is published in uSis and MyTimetable (manual). Please note that (last-minute) changes in the schedule are communicated in the course's Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, self study, workshops, and collaborative project work

Assessment method

  • Mid-course exam (15%)

  • Research project (60%)

  • Research paper (25%)

The exam takes place within the first half of the course. The research project and paper are due at the end of the course. Research projects are intended to be carried out in teams, but in exceptional cases can be conducted on an individual basis. The retake for this course is an individual post-mortem paper with an accompanying interactive prototype.

Reading list

Throughout the course students will receive articles or papers to read, videos to watch, and games to play. All essential material will be made available as part of the course. Additional, non-essential material might be recommended from time to time.


  • You have to enrol for classes and exams (including retakes) in uSis.

  • Elective, external and exchange students (other than Media Technology and Computer Science students) need to contact the programme's coordinator due to limited capacity.


Programme's coordinator: Barbara Visscher-van Grinsven