coordination of Serious Game Research and Industrial Design Engineering

Research on the design of game-elements in products, interventions, and services which motivate people to perform a specific behaviour in the domain of healthcare or wellbeing on a mental, social, or physical level (in contrast to education-, policy-, and entertainment games). The design of the game-elements is guided more by a user-centred perspective than by a technological perspective. The user is taken into account on an experiential level (e.g. the user’s motivations, emotion, behaviour), on a perceptual and interaction level, and by means of design methodologies (e.g. participatory design). Game-elements are the effective elements of games (e.g. virtuality/ magic circle, challenge, social relatedness, etc.) that motivate people to engage in the game. The design of the elements is explicitly not restricted to the digital domain but can take any form that will be effective for the user (e.g. tangible games, sets of rules, mixed reality). The main goal of serious game research at IDE is to explore, develop, and test principles for serious game design from a user-centred perspective. In addition, the PIM department conducts research on game branding and marketing. Most of the research projects involve direct relations with creative industry.


Since 2011 the FES-funded G-Motiv project started investigating the effect of game-elements on user-motivation which will ultimately lead to a behavioral change of the user. This project, of which I’m part as coordinator and researcher, contains about 20 stakeholders from the academic (TU Delft, UvA, TUe), design (Design Academy, design agencies, game design agencies), and healthcare/ bussiness domains (Parnassia Bavo, Humanitas, Careyn, Berenschot). Apart from fundamental knowledge on the effect of (digital & non-digital) game-elements on motivation and behavioral change, the project aims to deliver validated prototypes that (1) motivate drug addicts to stick to their therapy, (2) motivate elderly in nursing homes to enhance their physical activity, and (3) motivate employees to achieve an optimal level of prosocial behavior. Details of this project will can be found at Other projects I’m currently working on involve research on and development of therapy-enhancing product design (e.g. for applications in burn-out, cancer, aggression, panic, paranoia, … therapy).

Affective interaction

Research on how distinct emotions interfere with task related motor movement and how specific motor movements may facilitate the eliciting of specific emotions (body-feed back theory). These process may be used to enhance motivation for an user-product interaction but may also train emotional regulation processes.


Application of affective interaction research includes developing intuitive interfaces (using implicit emotional knowledge of the user). Applied product contexts are car interfaces, games, mental health-care.

Emotional prototypes and aesthetics

During my postdoc in Geneva, I conducted together with Martijn Goudbeek, some experiment on emotional prototypes in movements and schematic faces (smileys). Also, we tested the effect of image reduction on emotion recognition. It was found that anger recognition was more robust than other emotions to image reduction. Also, in an experiment with Karen Sam, we found that aesthetic emotions are attributed to images faster than the recognition of images: we know that we like an object before we recognize it.


Contrasting Virtual Reality immersiveness, using a CAVE, with less immersive 3D projection, showed that immersiveness increased all emotional impressions but did not affect genre attribution. In subsequent experiments I want to investigate the relationship of emotions and genres, and especially non-fiction, more deeply using online measurement.

Genre attribution & Fictionality

During my PhD I performed research on the attribution of filmgenres. Since Aristotle artworks are categorized in four basic genres: non-fiction, drama, action, and comedy. In a first experiment it was shown that stylistic cues of a film scene influenced genres more than event (story) cues, with the exception of drama attribution. In subsequent experiments, I varied the stylistic cues structurally and again asked subject to categorize the filmfragments. The fragments consisted of MAYA 3D animated blocks performing a chase. Results showed which movement elicited a specific genre attribution and emotion attribution in the viewer. Moreover, it was (empirically) found that the amount of transformation of a non-fiction movement predicted the attributed genre: little transformation resulted in drama attribution, more transformation in action, and even more in comedy attribution. In a related experiment I tested the effect of perceived efficiency of a movie scene, in terms of character goals, on genre attribution.