Week of the Game @ Utrecht University


On this website you will find the up to date programme overview for Utrecht University’s Week of the Game 2024, organized by the Utrecht Center for Game Research.

Monday, 15/04/2024 

13.00-13.30, D25, 0.02 

SIG Educational Games and Play, join us? (*CANCELLED*)

Kim van Mastwijk & Joey Slijpen

During this talk, we will provide you with a brief explanation about the project Educational Games and Play. The colleagues that work there, can help you with implementing Games and Play in your own classes. We will also share some inspiring examples of teachers’ projects and tell you about the SIG Educational Games and Play, which you can join if you are interested. 


13.30-16.00, D25, 0.02 

Game design as pedagogy

René Glas, Jasper van Vught, Stefan Werning

In this workshop, we will discuss the value of co-creation of games as a teaching method. Rather than learning from or through a game product, this approach focuses on creating multiple iterations (prototypes) of a game, making the game design process the site for knowledge transfer. In this workshop, we will explain the background of the approach and its various benefits. Then we will actively work on a low-key game design assignment. 

Registration is not mandatory to participate, but since the workshop ideally targets a group size of about 20-25 people, it will help us plan accordingly. Registration via j.f.vanvught@uu.nl


16.00-18.00, Grote zaal KNG20

Website launch and drinks 

Matthijs Dierckx, René Glas, Jasper van Vught

During this festive event, we will launch the new Center for Game Research website. UU researchers will receive a walkthrough of the website and the all the options to upload content to it about their own projects and individual research. The launch will close with drinks. 


Tuesday 16/04/2024

9.00-12.00, D25, 0.02

‘Hacking’ Magic: The Gathering for climate communication

Laura op de Beke, Timo Fluitsma, Stefan Werning

This workshop, similar to “Game design als onderwijsmethode” (Monday, 13-16), explores the potential of co-designing games as a means of stimulating critical conversations about societally relevant topics as well as empowering participants to collaboratively envision alternative future imaginaries through the ‘language’ of game design. Drawing on earlier work e.g. on “hacking” games for Youth Participatory Action Research (Germaine & Wake 2024), we demonstrate ‘franchise hacking’ as a complementary method that focuses less on defamiliarizing one existing game and more on tapping into the familiarity and large pre-existing audience of major game franchises to boost climate communication. Specifically, we utilize Magic: The Gathering, a widely popular card game franchise originally launched in 1993, and playtest as well as co-design custom card decks derived from real-world climate phenomena, threats and solutions. The method and materials can be adapted to different educational scenarios, from secondary schools to higher education and professional training.

To help us assess attendance, please fill in your name and email address in the following Google Form: https://forms.gle/PP1hifPFwXbzFhGR7. This is not mandatory to participate, but since the workshop ideally targets a maximum group size of about 20-25 people, it will help us plan accordingly. Thanks!


Wednesday 17/04/2024

Kick-off meeting Horizon Europe project STRATEGIES (first day)

09.00-18.00, D21, 0.05 (Sweelinckzaal)

! EVENT IS FULL, no more places available; to join online, use the following Teams link: https://tinyurl.com/WOTGwednesday

STRATEGIES (Sustainable Transition for Europe’s Game Industries) is a Horizon Europe-funded project (2024-2028) that aims to ‘green’ the gaming industries and support them in changing players’ hearts and minds as well as contributing to sustainable transformations across other creative industries. On Wednesday morning, we will launch our anthology on Ecogames, which lays the foundation for the STRATEGIES consortium and core ideas. In the afternoon, STRATEGIES itself will be launched. 

09.00-09.30 Welcome Coffee & Tea / Registration

09.30-12.00 Book launch: Ecogames: Playful Perspectives on the Climate Crisis (AUP 2024)

With the climate crisis and its short-term repercussions becoming more and more ‘tangible,’ videogames are increasingly contributing to the production, circulation, and questioning of environmental assumptions and imaginations. Whether they provide new spaces to practice alternative ways of living or reproduce ecomodernist fantasies of ‘fighting’ the climate crisis, both digital and analogue games as well as the cultures surrounding them are increasingly tuned in to pressing environmental concerns.

After a general introduction, we will present the book’s four thematic sections, 

  • Today’s Challenges: Games for Change;
  • Future Worlds: New Imaginaries;
  • The Nonhuman Turn;
  • Critical Metagaming Practices. 

Through numerous examples from games and gaming culture, we will explore different aspects of ecocritical engagement in and through games and play. The book is available via open access at the AUP website.

12.00-13.00 Lunch

13:00-18:00 Public launch of STRATEGIES

In this public-facing launch event, we will present the aims, concepts and methods of the STRATEGIES project, and introduce our key researchers and industry partners, as well as our Horizon Europe partner projects Pacesetters (artistic and creative research) and CRAFT IT 4SD (fashion). Members of the STRATEGIES consortium will explain the work they have already been doing to support game industries, game development education programmes, and game player communities – and reveal how they will take this forward through the STRATEGIES research programme.

Speakers include:

  • Sonia Fizek and Joost Vervoort will present their Greening Games and Anticiplay projects.
  • Lukáš Kolek (Charles Games) and Guy Gadney (Charisma) will talk about the games Beecarbonize and the AI-driven The Kraken Wakes.
  • Odile Limpach and Christel van Grinsven will present what Spielfabrique and Dutch Game Garden are already doing to support sustainable transitions in the gaming industry as accelerator/incubators as well as their role in the project. 
  • Elina Tyynelä (Neogames) will present her carbon accounting tool and how she hopes to develop it further as part of the STRATEGIES project. 
  • Jiri Kupiainen and Maria Wagner will introduce their Sustainable Games Alliance initiative.

Details of the full program can be found here: https://www.strategieshorizon.eu/initiatives/kick-off-meeting-at-utrechts-week-of-the-game.


Thursday 18/04/2024

Kick-off meeting Horizon Europe project STRATEGIES (second day, for project members only)

09.00-09.30 Welcome Coffee & Tea / Registration

09.30-18.00 Consortium meeting

The second day is dedicated to the internal kick-off of the Horizon Europe funded project Sustainable Transition for Europe’s Game Industries (STRATEGIES). It will allow for consortium members to coordinate their plans to assist Europe’s game development industries in making vital changes to their business, production, design and communication practices as well as their role within a sustainable societal transformation. The project will be coordinated by Utrecht University (UU), with scientific leadership from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

The focus of STRATEGIES will be two-fold. The first aspect involves reducing the ecological impact and harm of game development, distribution, and consumption, for example by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The second aspect centers on supporting game developers in using ecogames to engage diverse audiences with the climate crisis and sustainable futures. The project will draw on expertise from researchers across six universities and strong partnerships with NGOs and game companies.

For more information, see https://www.strategieshorizon.eu or contact project coordinator Joost Raessens: j.raessens@uu.nl.


16.00-18.00, KNG 20, T0.05

Book launch: Four Ways of Hearing Video Game Music

Michiel Kamp & Floris Schuiling

Please join us to celebrate the publication of Michiel Kamp’s Four ways of Hearing Video Game Music, published with Oxford University Press, 2024. The book offers a novel account of the ways in which video games invite us to hear and listen to their music. By taking a phenomenological approach to characterize music in video games, Kamp asks what it is we hear in the music when we play a game. Drawing on past phenomenological approaches to music as well as studies of music listening in a variety of disciplines such as aesthetics and ecological psychology, Kamp explains four main ways of hearing the same piece of music–through background, aesthetic, ludic, and semiotic hearing. The book investigates these four categories through detailed case studies of video games from a variety of eras and genres accompanied by gameplay recordings and images on a companion website.

To mark this occasion, four scholars from music, media, and video game studies will present a short thesis in response to Kamp’s work. These respondents are Isabella van Elferen (emeritus Kingston University), Floris Schuiling (Utrecht University), Tim Summers (Royal Holloway, University of London), and Jasper van Vught (Utrecht University). After a response by Michiel Kamp, there will be time for a Q&A and some celebratory drinks.


Friday 19/04/2024

9.00-14.30, D21, 0.05 (Sweelinckzaal)

VR for good Seminar

Lisa Burghardt, Laurence Herfs, Sandra Ponzanesi

On April 19 2024 we will bring together a variety of VR researchers, practitioners and industry leaders within the Netherlands, working on projects around using VR for good. The aim of the event is to map the current VR landscape within the Netherlands, discuss ongoing projects and build a community of practice. During the event, we want to critically reflect on the potentials and pitfalls of addressing societal issues through immersive technologies. By sharing challenges that are faced and different (methodological) approaches to VR, we hope to build an inspiring space to foster interdisciplinary perspectives on using VR for good. 

The VR for good seminar is organized within the NWO funded project “Virtual Reality as Empathy Machine: Media, Migration and the Humanitarian Predicament.” More info: https://vrmigration.sites.uu.nl/

Confirmed speakers: Rob Belleman (Computational Science Lab, University of Amsterdam); Bregje Benecke (VR Filmmaker); Lindy Damen (eVRgreen Studio); Layla Farahani (PhD, Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing); Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University); Matthijs Leendertse (Dept. of Media and Communication, Erasmus University); Jiaxin Liu (ICON PhD, Utrecht University); Roos Meerman (Fillip Studios); Marijn Nura Nado (PhD, Media and Communication, Stanford University); Wouter Oomen (Expertise Centre Humanitarian Communication); Joost Raessens (Game Research, Utrecht University); Marijke de Valck (Film and Media Studies, Utrecht University, co-founder of the Film Festival Research Network); Mirjam Vosmeer (researcher in the Lectorate of Play & Civic Media, University of Applied; Science, Amsterdam); Laurence Herfs/Lisa Burghardt/Sandra Ponzanesi (NWO Project VR as Empathy Machine, Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University; Martijn Kors (XR design researcher) and Benjamin de Wit (Artistic Director, Immersive Tech Week).

Followed by lunch 13.00-14.00 – Lunch will be in the antichambre sweelinckzaal


Appendix Wednesday 24/04/2024

13.30-17.30, D21, 0.05 (Sweelinckzaal)

Public Lecture and Book Launch

Koen Leurs and Sandra Ponzanesi

On April 24, we have another interesting event that ties into the week of the game. This event is supported by the Utrecht University Focus Area Governing the Digital Society – Digital Migration Special Interest Group and organized in collaboration with the PCI (Postcolonial Studies Initiative) the UU Focus Area Migration and Societal Change, the NOG (Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies) and the Department of Media and Culture Studies, Gender, Culture and Postcoloniality Cluster.

13.30-14.45 Lecture and Q&A 

Karina Horsti (University of Minnesota / University of Jyväskylä)
Survival and possible futures after violent bordering of Europe.

This talk addresses cultural memory of present-day violent bordering of Europe. It proposes that focus on survival adds an important temporal aspect to the issue of migrant deaths at borders. This awareness of temporality—that the present will one day be past—allows us to imagine possible futures, potentially prompting a vision of a convivial future society: a society shared by both those whose governments created the border and those who managed to cross it. Further, we anticipate that in the future, others may examine and judge the present, just as we currently examine the violent events of the past. The specters haunting the present are not only from the past but also from the future.

14.45-15.00 Coffee break

15.00-16.30 Book launch

Koen Leurs & Sandra Ponzanesi – Doing Digital Migration Studies Theories and Practices of the Everyday, published with Amsterdam University Press, 2024

Doing Digital Migration present a comprehensive entry point to the variety of theoretical debates, methodological interventions, political discussions and ethical debates around migrant forms of belonging as articulated through digital practices. Digital technologies impact upon everyday migrant lives, while vice versa migrants play a key role in technological developments – be it when negotiating the communicative affordances of platforms and devices, as consumers of particular commercial services such as sending remittances, as platform gig workers or test cases for new advanced surveillance technologies. With its international scope, this anthology invites scholars to pluralize understandings of ‘the migrant’ and ‘the digital’. The anthology is organized in five different sections: Creative Practices; Digital Diasporas and Placemaking; Affect and Belonging; Visuality and digital media and Datafication, Infrastructuring, and Securitization. These sections are dedicated to emerging key topics and debates in digital migration studies, and sections are each introduced by international experts.

The book launch will consist of an introduction presented by Koen Leurs and Sandra Ponzanesi, as well as presentations by the following four contributors: Nadica Denić (University of Amsterdam), Irene Gutiérrez Torres (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Rosa Wevers (Hanze University of Applied Sciences / Utrecht University) and Daniel Leix Palumbo (University of Groningen)

16.30-17.30 Drinks


If you have any questions concerning the Week of the Game, contact the organizing committee, René Glas (r.glas [@] uu.nl) and Jasper van Vught (j.f.vanvught [@] uu.nl).