Plenary Speaker

TitleDeconstructing Serious Games ” Finding Principles of Play
SpeakerDr. Igor S. Mayer
Senior Associate Professor, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
Director, TU-Delft Centre for Serious Gaming

According to Wittgenstein, games are a family of resemblances and there is no essence among them. However, this lack of essence does not stand in the way of the fact that even children learn what games are, fairly easily. Dick Duke argued that “a careful review of the variety of products currently available as serious games turned up the startling disclosure that they seem to share no single characteristic: neither subject matter nor technique, nor duration, nor client, nor audience configuration, nor paraphernalia, nor style. [...] Curiously, professionals have no difficulty in alluding to all of these as games. Or addressing the phenomenon they use as ‘gaming’ even though the particulars are so varied and diffuse.” In my presentation, I ask why this is. I will examine the principles of play that can make certain types of real world interventions (for change, learning, decision-making) feel ‘like game-play’. Did you ever play golf against your Boss?

Dr Igor S. Mayer is a senior associate professor in the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. He is also the director of the TU-Delft Centre for Serious Gaming and the associated serious game development lab ‘Signature Games’ ( He is a co-founder and a board member of SAGANET - the Netherlands’ Simulation and Gaming Association - as well as GaLA, the European Network of Excellence in Serious Games (2010-2014), the Serious Game Academy (2011 -) and the European Serious Game Society (2012 -), and a member of the Netherlands Institute of Government (NIG). He is an associate editor of Simulation & Gaming (since 2005) and Policy Studies Journal. Over the years and in various partnerships he initiated, managed and participated in a large number of gaming-related research and development projects most recently for and with, Rijkswaterstaat (RWS), the ministry of Infrastructures & Environment (E&I), ProRail, Royal Dutch Shell, the Next Generation Infrastructures (NGI) program, the Netherlands’ Police Academy, the Dutch Council for the Judiciary, the Netherlands Office for the Public Prosecution, the Port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands Institute for Spatial Research.