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

Meaningful Play 2018 at Michigan State University

Designing & Studying Games that Matter

Meaningful Play 2018 Conference Overview

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

Meaningful Play 2018 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 three primary themes of the conference are:

  • exploring meaningful applications of games
  • issues in designing meaningful play
  • learning, education & games

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, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality experiences for meaningful purposes.

The third theme is developed in partnership with the IGDA Learning, Education & Games Special Interest Group.

Conference News

October 16, 2019 - The Proceedings of Meaningful Play 2018 are now available through ETC Press.

October 13, 2018 - Meaningful Play 2018 was a big success! We had 250 attendees from 12 countries and 30 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 will be available online next month.

October 13, 2018 - At the conference closing, the Game Competition Awards were announced, including:

Category Winner
Best Non-Digital Game

Lost & Found by Owen Gottlieb, Ian Schreiber, and Kelly Murdoch-Kitt

Honorable Mention: Rosenstrasse by Moyra Turkington and Jessica Hammer

Best Digital Game

ABCmouse Mastering Math by Age of Learning, Inc

Honorable Mentions: Brukel by Bob De Schutter and Forgotton Anne by Alfred Nguyen, Valdemar Schultz Andreasen, Morten Brunbjerg

Best VR Experience

HoloLAB Champions by Schell Games

Honorable Mention: VESTA Virtual Vineyard by Brian Winn, William Jeffery, Thomas Smith, Ryan Chuang, Anya Kolesnichenko, Travis Nichols, Scott Holzknecht, Olivia Nalon, Kenny Wherry, Jasmine Burks, Trever Daniels, Andrew Bonczyk, Jamie Winters, Mingshun Zhu, Colleen Little, Ryan Magliola, and Austin Widmyer

Best Student Game

Miner Madness, Dig into Code Theory by EPIC + KCAD + OST

Honorable Mention: discomfort zone by Alex Tomkow

People's Choice Award Fellowship of Fools by Casey O'Donnell and Hermione Banger

The top papers were also recognized, including:

October 11, 2018 - Meaningful Play 2018 Kicks-Off Today!

October 4, 2018 - We are one week away from the launch of Meaningful Play 2018!

September 18, 2018 - The complete schedule for Meaningful Play 2018 is now available.

September 12, 2018 - If you are arriving early, make sure to attend the pre-conference special presentation, feature Noah Falstein, titled "The Surprising Synergy of Medicine, Games, and VR," and pick up your conference credentials early.

August 15, 2018 - The preliminary schedule for Meaningful Play 2018 is now available.

August 10, 2018 - Bei Yang, Eric Zimmerman, and John Sharp announced as the final set of keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2018.

July 25, 2018 - Acceptances for submissions were sent out. Check your inboxes and spam filters or email us if you have a question about your submission.

June 25, 2018 - The on-time deadline for submissions has past. We will continue to accept late submissions of games and sessions until July 18, 2018.

June 15, 2018 - Tracy Fullerton and Diana Hughes announced as keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2018. More keynoters to be announced soon.

May 23, 2018 - Be part of the Meaningful Play 2018 agenda! The submission deadline has been extended to June 24, 2018. Submit your papers, posters, panel sessions, roundtable discussions, presentations, and games today!

April 12, 2018 - Katherine Isbister and Alec Holowka announced as keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2018. More keynoters to be announced soon.

November 27, 2017 - We are partnering with the ETC Press for a published peer-reviewed conference proceedings of Meaningful Play 2018.

November 26, 2017 - The Call for Submissions is now available, including a special track in partnership with the IGDA Learning, Education & Games Special Interest Group.

November 20, 2017 - We are excited to announce the upcoming Meaningful Play 2018 to take place October 11-13, 2018 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 Meaningful Play 2016

Featured Speakers

Tracy Fullerton Bei Yang

Tracy Fullerton, Professor of Cinematic Arts, Electronic Arts Endowed Chair, Director of USC Games

Bei Yang, Walt Disney Imagineering Technology Studio Executive

Eric Zimmerman Diana Hughes

Eric Zimmerman, Game Designer and Arts Professor, NYU Game Center

Diana Hughes, Director of Adaptive Games at Age of Learning, Inc.

Lindsay Grace John Sharp

Lindsay Grace, Knight Chair, University of Miami School of Communication

John Sharp, Associate Professor, Parsons The New School for Design

Alec-Holowka Katherine Isbister

Alec Holowka, Canadian indie game developer, programmer, musician and game designer

Katherine Isbister, Professor, Games Researcher, Author, University of California, Santa Cruz

Allen Turner Drew Davidson

Allen Turner, Professional Lecturer, DePaul University School of Design

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

Karen Schrier Matthew Farber

Karen Schrier, Associate Professor, Marist College

Matthew Farber, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Colorado

Mark Chen Jarryd Huntley

Mark Chen, Independent games scholar and part-time professor, University of Washington Bothell

Jarryd Huntley, Civic Tech Fellow at Microsoft

Hanna Brady Stephen Jacobs

Hanna Brady, Freelance Game Writer

Stephen Jacobs, Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology

View the complete conference program.

Special Events

Conference Party

Wednesday, Oct. 10
Pre-Conference Event - If you are looking for something to do Wednesday before Meaningful Play, MSU is hosting an AR/VR Symposium and Meaningful Play attendees are invited to the closing keynote, "The Surprising Synergy of Medicine, Games, and VR," featuring Noah Falstein!

Conference Party

Thursday, Oct. 11
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.

Industry/Student Meet'n'Greet

Friday, Oct. 12
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. 12
Special Event - Pure Michigan Game Exhibition and Celebration - During this energetic game exhibition and celebration, you can play games; meet and mingle with professional game developers, faculty, and students; and enjoy yourself with drinks and appetizers.

Conference Closing

Saturday, Oct. 13
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.

Jared Riley

Throughout Conference
Office Hours - Have a game idea you'd like feedback on? Stuck on a student project? Or maybe you're looking for someone to review your resume/portfolio to get feedback, or just otherwise would like to discuss your career goals. Schedule office hour time with industry veteran Jared Riley.