This is an archive of a previous Meaningful Play. View current Meaningful Play.

Meaningful Play 2012
designing and studying games that matter

Meaningful Play 2012 Conference Overview

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

Meaningful Play 2012 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 News

October 25, 2012 - At the conference closing, the Game Competition Awards were announced, including:

Category Winner Runner-Up
Most Innovative DNA Roulette

Osy Osmosis

Most Meaningful Quandary A Closed World
Best Student Created Reveal Arithmetects
Best Non-Digital awkward moment


Best Digital POX: Save the People
(iPad Edition)


People's Chioce Award Fair Play Don't Kill the Cow (tie)
Reveal (tie)
Osy Osmosis (tie)

The top five papers were also recognized, including:

October 22, 2012 - Meaningful Play 2012 was a big success! We had 300 attendees from 10 countries and 32 U.S. States! Check out #mp2012 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 3, 2012 - We are nearly sold out! Register now if you want to attend Meaningful Play 2012! We are just 15 days away from the opening keynote.

September 28, 2012 - Two special lunch events were added - On Thursday, October 18 the IGDA Learning, Education and Games SIG is hosting a meet-up. On Friday, October 19 there will be an Industry/Student Meet'N'Greet.

September 12, 2012 - Early registration ends Friday, September 14. The special conference hotel rate can be obtained through Thursday, September 20. See Location for details.

September 11, 2012 - The complete program schedule is now available! We have 6 keynote presentations, 12 speaker presentations, 12 panels/roundtables, 4 workshops, 94 paper presentations, 20 poster presentations, 48 game demos, and many opportunities to mix, mingle, and socialize.

July 30, 2012 - We had a record number of submissions! Thanks for all those that submitted papers, posters, games, panels, talks, roundtables, and workshops! The program committee and organizing committee are reviewing the submissions and will notify authors in late August.

July 14, 2012 - Special Events Announced, including pre-conference talk with Constance Steinkuehler, Opening Reception, Poster Session, and Game Exhibition, Indie Game: the Movie screening and panel discussion, and Conference Wrap Up, Closing Keynote, and Lunch, and the Meaningful Play Game Room!

July 9, 2012 - Call for submissions deadline extended to July 28. Submit Paper, Panel, Poster, Roundtable, Workshop, and Game submissions now!

June 25, 2012 - Michael John, Ann DeMarle, and John Ferrara announced as remaining three confirmed keynote speakers. See program for details.

June 1, 2012 - Phaedra Boinodiris, Donald Brinkman, and Kurt Squire announced as first three confirmed keynote speakers. See program for details.

April 17, 2012 - The conference hotels are now available for booking.

January 20, 2012 - Registration is open for Meaningful Play 2012.

September 12, 2011 - We are excited to announce the upcoming Meaningful Play 2012 conference to take place October 18-20, 2012 on the campus of Michigan State University.

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 for meaningful purposes.

Previous Meaningful Plays

View details on Meaningful Play 2008 and Meaningful Play 2010.


Keynote Line-Up

Donald Brinkman Phaedra Boinodiris Kurt Squire
Donald Brinkman, Manager of Digital Humanities, Digital Heritage, and Games for Learning, Microsoft Research

Phaedra Boinodiris, Serious Games Program Manager, IBM

Kurt Squire, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Michael John Ann DeMarle John Ferrara
Michael John, General Manager, Glass Lab / Electronic Arts Ann DeMarle, Associate Professor, Champlain College John Ferrara, Creative Director, Megazoid Games
See the program for additional presenters.


Special Events

Constance Steinkuehler Wednesday, Oct. 17
Special Presentation - Pre-conference Quello Center Lecture Series presentation by Constance Steinkuehler, currently Senior Policy Analyst at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the U.S. President.
Conference Party Thursday, Oct. 18
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).
Closing Ceremony Friday, Oct. 19
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.
Indie Game: the Movie Friday, Oct. 19
Popcorn and a Movie - Get a snapshot into the trials and tribulations of an indie game developer in the screening of the Sundance Award Winning documentary, "Indie Game: the Movie". A Q&A session with game developers will follow the screening.
Michael John Saturday, Oct. 20
Conference Wrap Up - Enjoy the provided lunch during the closing keynote with Michael John, General Manager of the "GLASS Lab," an unprecedented cooperative effort between the Gates Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and EA to create educational games.
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.


Important Dates

July 29, 2012
  Paper, Panel, Roundtable, Workshop, Speaker, and Game submissions due
August 27, 2012   Notification of acceptance on Papers, Posters, Panels, Roundtables, Workshops, Speakers, and Games
September 14, 2012  

Revised papers due for inclusion in conference proceedings.

Early conference registration ends.

October 18, 2012   Conference begins
October 20, 2012   Conference concludes
December 1, 2012   Top paper authors must submit revised manuscript for possible publication in the Journal of Games and Culture
TBA   Journal distribution date