Developing Digital Games in and for Academic Contexts

Join the Discussion on Academic Games!

Within the FDG community, we are often involved in the design and development of games that are used to conduct research. The games we develop are meant to educate, train, or are tools to understand individual or social behavior. We create them to gather data or to serve as training grounds for algorithmic advancements. We might even use games to convey an argument, or to illustrate a thought experiment. All of these motivations for developing games have one thing in common: they happen in and for an academic context.

Despite this commonality, there is lack of published discourse on the idiosyncrasies that come with the development of games within the academic environment.

In this workshop, we map challenges, opportunities, and strategies that are specific to game development within and for an academic context. Doing so requires the participation of reflective researchers and developers who have a stake in the creation of digital games for academic purposes. Join us for a day of getting into the weeds of academic game development, and shaping the academic discourse surrounding it.


To join the workshop, send a mail with:

  • A short bio of yourself (~200-300 words); including your experiences with game development in general, and development for academic purposes in particular
  • Whether you will join online or offline

The workshop is planned for a maximum of 30 participants on a first-come basis. Accepted participants will receive a confirmation mail, and later on, practical information about the workshop itself. The exact day of the workshop is yet to be determined, but will take place as part of the FDG Conference (5-8th September, 2022).

Postmortem Submissions

As part of the workshop, we encourage participants to submit postmortem papers about insights and experiences concerning game development in an academic environment and for academic purposes (e.g. to collect data, or to model processes). Postmortem submissions are not required to participate in the workshop, and submissions are not going to be presented in the workshop. Instead, the workshop might draw attention to specific submissions as part of the planned activities.

Submissions can either be full papers (5-8 pages) or short papers (2-4 pages) and are subject to double-blind peer reviews (i.e. should be anonymized!). Accepted full papers may be published together with the FDG'22 proceedings in the ACM Digital Library, while short papers will be published on the workshop page.

Submissions must follow the single-column ACM Master Template, and should be submitted through EasyChair:

The submission deadline is June 15, 2022EXTENDED: June 19 (23:59, AoE timezone)
Notification of acceptance by July 8, 2022July 15

Workshop Schedule

The workshop is planned to take place for a full day in a managed hybrid format. Some parts of the workshop involve both online and offline participants, while other parts take place across multiple smaller groups that are formed in part based on whether participants are on- or offline.

The workshop schedule is divided over six blocks:

  1. Introduction: A general welcome, with a presentation of two case-studies of academic game development; illustrating how the academic context can influence development.
  2. Outlining Case Studies: Group work on defining additional case studies with the goal of exploring commonalities in terms of challenges, best practices, and 'lessons learned'.
  3. Collecting Themes: Groups come together to present their conclusions on broader themes across case studies.
  4. Stakeholder Archetypes: Coming back from a lunch break, the organizers present the framing of different stakeholders in academic game development; using the metaphor of personas or 'character archetypes'.
  5. Creating Archetype 'Character Cards': Group work on defining archetypes of stakeholders in academic game development.
  6. World Building: Groups come together to combine themes and archetypes; and discuss how they can be used to support future development efforts in academic contexts.

After the Workshop

In the weeks following the workshop, the resources created by participants are consolidated into a paper draft. Participants are invited to suggest changes, and indicate the desire for co-authorship. Further development of the paper will be discussed together with those that are interested in pursuing the publication of the workshop outcome.


Contact us via e-mail.

About the Organizers

In alphabetical order:

  • Claudia A. Libbi (Leiden University) — PhD-researcher working in the area of applied games for children facing difficulties in their social environment. She is particularly interested in co-designing with children, as well as the people they interact with. Her motivation to organize this workshop is to create an open environment for sharing individual experiences and perspectives of researchers across disciplines.

  • Giulio Barbero (Leiden University) — Former industrial design engineer and PhD researcher in the areas of social cognition, game design and artificial intelligence. His research involves programming education processes using video games. He teaches programming courses and supervises theses involving education and gamification. He wants to organize this workshop to bring together specialists in the field and stimulate meaningful conversation on the topic.

  • Hainan Yu (University of Luxembourg) — PhD researcher interested in how to use games as media to acquire knowledge. She has a background in game AI and data science, and advocates using these technologies to improve game user experience. She is starting her PhD research on learning collaboration using games. Her motivation for organizing the workshop is to explore the use of games for social sciences and discuss interdisciplinary game research.

  • Isabelle Kniestedt (TU Delft / University of Twente) — Game developer and researcher, currently managing an applied gaming project while finishing her PhD. She has lectured game courses at Leiden University. Her interest lies in the potential of games as tools for change, by using their emotional impact to stimulate thought and behavior. Trained as a game artist and animator, she has taken on various roles in applied gaming projects. Her motivation for organizing this workshop is to gather similar experiences, and produce knowledge to support academic game development.

  • Marcello A. Gómez Maureira (Leiden University) — Lecturer, PhD-researcher, and game developer working in the area of game user research. Originally trained as game artist and designer, he worked in that capacity for commercial projects before focusing on research and education. Marcello lectures game courses, supervises theses involving game development, and has co-organized Hackathons. His motivation to organize this workshop is to develop a better understanding between different fields and interests that come together when games are made for research purposes.

  • Marta "Tuki" Clavero (Breda University of Applied Sciences) — Senior Researcher in Creative & Entertainment Video Games, and game developer. She has lectured about games as research tools. Trained in Game Design from ITU Copenhagen, and Game Architecture and Design at Breda University. She was co-lead designer of the IGF finalist ATUM and has worked on a variety of games, ranging from educational games to gameful designs for better living. She is working on the design and identification of design-patterns for psychological horror games in VR.

  • Mike Preuss (Leiden University) — Assistant Professor at LIACS, the computer science institute at Leiden University. Previously, he was with ERCIS (the information systems institute of WWU Muenster), and before with the Chair of Algorithm Engineering at TU Dortmund, where he received his PhD on evolutionary algorithms for multimodal optimization. His current research focuses on Game AI algorithms and their application to real world problems. Mike’s interest in the workshop is to investigate approaches to make and use games in educational or application contexts.

  • Mikkel Svendsen (Geometric Interactive) — Game Developer from Copenhagen. He worked at Playdead on the critically acclaimed game 'Inside', and held talks about its use of visual effects and lighting at GDC and other conferences. Currently, he works at Geometric Interactive on an upcoming project, and privately, on an audiovisual holographic theater piece. Alongside his partner Tuki he develops a psychological horror VR experience and conducts research using games. He has a keen interest in developing immersive experiences for experimentation and learning