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Video Games for Research


Admission requirements

Bachelor degree (completed). To participate in this course you will need to be comfortable with the basics of programming and the operation of media creation software.


Scientific experiments increasingly involve interactive elements and virtual environments that make use of the technological advancements in video game development. Some studies even specifically involve video games to collect data or to use them to educate people on a specific issue. However, designing and conducting game-based research projects requires understanding not just of one's own field of research, but also of the conventions and practical considerations that are part of video game development.

In this course, you will learn how to design and conduct a game-based research project that involves either the modification of an existing video game, or the purposeful development of a new interactive experience. In the process, you will learn about existing 'serious game' projects, recent developments in game research more generally, and technological affordances that can be used in video games and interactive experiences (such as AR/VR or networked interactivity). Course lectures provide the theoretical foundation for game-based research practices, as well as game design and development principles. Workshops provide space for related discussion and applied, collaborative development work. At the end of the course, you will have gained the experience of conducting research work with the help of video games, and will be able to apply it in your area of study.

To enjoy this course you should be enthusiastic about experimenting with video games and show curiosity for the medium in general; including the willingness to analyze games that you might not usually choose to play. Game development is a challenging, time-consuming activity that requires collaboration and a wide range of skills. However, taking on this challenge will equip you with the ability to conduct unique and novel research projects.

Course objectives

  • Understand the conceptual principles and conventions of video game design and development.

  • Understand the impacts on game design when developing video games for non-entertainment purposes.

  • Learn how Game AI tools and methods can be integrated into the process in various ways.

  • Study different forms of 'serious games', including entertainment games that support scientific research, and games that seek to educate or inspire critical discourse in society.

  • Explore different forms of measures and research output when conducting game-based research.

  • Gain experience in developing or modifying a video game.

  • Gain experience in conducting game-based research in your field of study (including, but not limited to, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences).

  • Reflect or report on the outcome of your game-based research project.

  • Collaborate with other students and the course lecturers on generating new knowledge for the field of game-based research.


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, self study, workshops, and collaborative project work

Assessment method

  • Mid-course exam (15%)

  • Research project (60%)

  • Research paper (25%)

The exam takes place roughly half-way into course. The research project and paper are due at the end of the course. Research projects are carried out in teams, but in exceptional cases can be conducted on an individual basis. The retake for this course is an individual 'post-mortem' paper.

Reading list

Throughout the course students will receive articles or papers to read, videos to watch, and games to play. All essential material will be made available as part of the course. Additional, non-essential material might be recommended from time to time.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Contact the lecturer(s) for course specific questions, and the programme's coordinator for questions regarding admission and/or registration.


Elective, external and exchange students (other than Media Technology and Computer Science students) need to be admitted to the course before registration due to limited capacity. Contact the programme's coordinator to request admission; include a short description of your course interest and state your current study programme in your correspondence.