Meaningful Play 2016 at Michigan State University

Designing & Studying Games that Matter

Meaningful Play 2016 Conference Overview

Whether designed to entertain or to achieve more "serious" purposes, games, including virtual reality experiences, have the potential to impact players' beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, emotions, cognitive abilities, physical and mental health, and behavior.

Meaningful Play 2016 is a conference about theory, research, and game design innovations, principles and practices. Meaningful Play brings scholars and industry professionals together to understand and improve upon games to entertain, inform, educate, and persuade in meaningful ways.

The conference will include thought-provoking keynotes from leaders in academia and industry, peer-reviewed paper presentations, panel sessions (including academic and industry discussions), innovative workshops, roundtable discussions, and exhibitions of games and prototypes.

Conference Audience and Themes

The conference is primarily for:

  • industry and academic game researchers
  • industry and academic game designers and developers
  • game educators
  • students
  • government and NGOs interested in games

The two primary themes of the conference are:

  • exploring meaningful applications of games
  • issues in designing meaningful play

The first theme includes an examination of games (of all types) from primarily an academic research perspective.

The second theme focuses on much more practical knowledge from the front-line of actual design, development, and use of games and virtual reality experiences for meaningful purposes.

Conference News

October 25, 2016 - Meaningful Play 2016 was a big success! We had nearly 300 attendees from 8 countries and 31 U.S. States! Check out #mplay on twitter to check out twitter posts throughout the event and check out flickr to see photos from the event. The conference proceedings are available online.

October 22, 2016 - At the conference closing, the Game Competition Awards were announced, including:

Category Winner
Most Innovative Game Open Sourcery by Abigail Corfman
Most Meaningful Game Walden, a game by Tracy Fullerton
Best Student Created Non-Digital Game Outbreak by Elaine Fath and Alexandra To
Best Student Created Digital Game Sync by Robert D. Bishop, William Pheloung,
Eric Walsh, Luc Wong, and Yihao Zhu
Best Overall Non-Digital Game Ballot Box Bumble by Scott Nicholson
Best Overall Digital Game Night of the Living Debt by Luke Erickson, Lyle Hansen,
Barbara Chamberlin, and Seth Powers
People's Choice Award Outbreak by Elaine Fath and Alexandra To


The top papers were also recognized, including:

October 20, 2016 - Meaningful Play 2016 Kicks-Off Today!

October 18, 2016 - "Robots" revealed as the visual theme for Meaningful Play 2016.

October 17, 2016 - Early registration check-in is Wednesday, Oct. 19 from 5pm-7pm at the East Lansing Marriott. The regular registration desk opens at 8am on Thursday, Oct. 20 on the 2nd floor of the MSU Union and is open 8am-5pm throughout the conference.

September 30, 2016 - The full conference schedule is now available. Just three weeks until the conference begins!

September 14, 2016 - The full tentative conference schedule is now available. Early registration ends this coming Friday, Sept. 16.

September 12, 2016 - The tentative conference schedule is now available. Paper presentation scheduling will be in place by the end of the week.

July 31, 2016 - The deadline for submissions is today! Submit now!

July 7, 2016 - Call for Submissions extended from July 14 to July 31. Submit today!

June 22, 2016 - Michealene Cristini Risley and Dr. Isabela Granic announced as keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2016.

June 10, 2016 - Dr. Jacquelyn Ford Morie and Halcyone "Cy" Wise announced as keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2016. More keynoters to be announced soon.

May 12, 2016 - Richard Lemarchand and Dr. Elizabeth LaPensée announced as first two keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2016.

March 6, 2016 - Registration now open for Meaningful Play 2016!

November 3, 2015 - We are excited to announce the upcoming Meaningful Play 2016 to take place October 20-22, 2016 on the campus of Michigan State University.!

Previous Meaningful Plays

View details on previous Meaningful Play conferences.

Meaningful Play 2008 Meaningful Play 2010 Meaningful Play 2012 Meaningful Play 2014

Featured Speakers

Richard Lemarchand Elizabeth LaPensee

Richard Lemarchand, Associate Chair, University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts

Elizabeth LaPensée, Indigenous Game Designer, Michigan State University

Jacquelyn Ford Morie Lindsay Grace

Jacquelyn Ford Morie, Founder, CEO All These Worlds and CTO The Augmented Traveler Corp

Lindsay Grace, Professor, Game Designer, Artist, American University

Stuart Brown Michealene Cristini Risley

Stuart Brown, M.D., psychiatrist, clinical researcher, founder of the National Institute for Play

Michealene Cristini Risley, Human rights warrior, entrepreneur, storyteller

Halcyone Wise Drew Davidson

Halcyone "Cy" Wise, Owlmancer, Owlchemy Labs

Drew Davidson, Director of the Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University

Jared Riley Isabela Granic

Jared Riley, Engineering Manager, GREE International

Isabela Granic, Professor and Chair, Developmental Psychopathology, Radboud University Nijmegen

View the complete conference program.

Special Events

Conference Party

Thursday, Oct. 20
Conference Party - Chance to mix and mingle with conference goers at the Opening Reception, view late breaking research at the Poster Session, and play "meaningful" games at the Game Exhibition (appetizers and drinks provided).

Industry/Student Meet'n'Greet

Friday, Oct. 21
Industry/Student Meet'n'Greet - This is a great chance for students to meet with some of the companies attending Meaningful Play and pass on resumes. It is a great opportunity for companies to find fresh talent.

Pure Michigan Game Exhibition and Celebration

Friday, Oct. 21
Pure Michigan Game Exhibition and Celebration - During this energetic game exhibition and celebration, you can play games; meet and mingle with several Michigan-based game developers; and enjoy yourself with drinks and appetizers.

Conference Closing

Saturday, Oct. 22
Conference Closing - This includes the closing keynote, lunch, and the presentation of the "Meaningful Play Ninjas", aka the winners of the game competition and top papers...

Game Room

Throughout Conference
Game Room - Build meaningful connections with your fellow conference goers while playing a digital or board game in the Meaningful Play Game Room.

MeaningfulPlay.MSU.edu