Meaningful Play 2022 at Michigan State University

Designing & Studying Games that Matter

Meaningful Play 2022 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 2022 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 focuses the use of games for learning and education, as well as the teaching of game making and game studies within academia.

Conference News

October 17, 2022 - The Proceedings of Meaningful Play 2022 are now available online.

October 15, 2022 - Meaningful Play 2018 was a big success! We had 180 attendees from 11 countries and 25 U.S. States! Check out #mplay on twitter to check out twitter posts throughout the event.

October 14, 2022 - At the conference closing, the Game Competition Awards were announced, including:

Category Winner
Best Non-Digital Game

Race to the Moond by Paul Gestwicki, Makayla Hughes, Tori Roberts

Best Digital Game

Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends by Team Nemo (Chris Totten, Ben Cole, and Adrian Sandoval et. al)

Best AR/VR Experience

Play the Knave by Gina Bloom, Evan Buswell, Colin Milburn, 
and Nicholas Toothman

Best Student Game

Bloomwood Stories: Block Party by Morgan Evans, Gal Flessig, Meo Zhang, Avonelle Wing, Geoff Kaufman, Jess Hammer

People's Choice Award Mad Mixologist by Edward Melcer

The top papers were also recognized, including:

October 12, 2022 - Meaningful Play 2022 kicks-off today!

October 4, 2022 - The finalized program is now available for Meaningful Play 2022. The conference kicks off in just over one week from today!

September 12, 2022 - The tentative program is now available for Meaningful Play 2022. The program will be finalized in late September.

August 19, 2022 - Geoff Johns announced as keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2022.

July 28, 2022 - All submissions, game and otherwise, were reviewed and acceptance or rejection notifications were sent out. If you did not hear on your submission, please let us know.

July 26, 2022 - All game submissions were reviewed and acceptance or rejection notifications were sent out today for the Meaningful Play 2022 Game Exhibition. We are running a bit behind on reviewing of non-game submissions, but hope to get decisions out by the end of this week.

July 18, 2022 - Theresa Jean Tanenbaum ("Tess") announced as keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2022.

June 26, 2022 - We received an amazing collection of submissions for the Meaningful Play Conference. We are beginning the review process. Notifications will go out July 26!

June 7, 2022 - Submissions have been rolling in for the Meaningful Play Conference, but we are still happy to extend the submission deadline ten days—to June 25th!

May 10, 2022 - Rachel Kowert and Carrie Heeter announced as keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2022.

March 31, 2022 - Doris C. Rusch and Andrew "Andy" Phelps announced as keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2022. More keynoters to be announced soon.

March 14, 2022 - Heidi Boisvert announced as keynote presenters at Meaningful Play 2022. More keynoters to be announced soon.

January 31, 2022 - The Call for Submissions is now available for Meaningful Play 2022. Submit and be part of the program!

January 28, 2022 - Early Registration is now open for Meaningful Play 2022!

November 4, 2021 - Meaningful Play 2022 was discussed with Brian Winn as part of Dr. Robby Ratan's SPARTIE-cast podcast. Check it out... (NOTE: The dates were slightly adjusted for the conference after this podcast was recorded.)

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 Meaningful Play 2018

Keynote Speakers

Theresa Tanenbaum Heidi Boisvert

Theresa Tanenbaum, Associate Professor, University of California Irvine

Heidi Boisvert, Founder, futurePerfect lab, Co-Founder, XTH

Doris C. Rusch Andy Phelps

Doris C. Rusch, Professor of Game Design, Uppsala University

Andrew "Andy" Phelps, Professor, University of Canterbury and American University

Geoff Johns Rachel Kowert

Geoff Johns, Comic Book Writer, Screenwriter, and Film and TV producer

Rachel Kowert, Research Psychologist and the Research Director of Take This

Carrie Heeter

Carrie Heeter, Professor of Media and Information at Michigan State University and Director of Yoga Mind Tools

More details on featured speakers.

Special Events

Conference Party

Wednesday, Oct. 12
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.

Pure Michigan Game Exhibition and Celebration

Thursday, Oct. 13
Game Night!!! - This is our version of "Game Night" for the Meaningful Play conference attendees. Come play your favorite board and card games. We will also be holding a (casual) eSports-style Plunder Panic gaming tournament. There will also be a chance to mix and mingle with attendees and enjoy yourself with drinks and appetizers.

Conference Closing

Friday, Oct. 14
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.