Kars Alfrink of Hubbub explains how they use games and play to solve complex problems and teach difficult subjects

About the speaker

Kars Alfrink (MA, Utrecht School of the Arts) is a designer active in the area of play, technology and society. He is currently principal at Hubbub, a studio for playful design. Hubbub invents and builds digital products with which people can have fun, express themselves and gain a better understanding of the world.

Earlier, Kars initiated and co-curated the Dutch offshoot of This happened, an event series about the stories behind interaction design. He has worked as an educator and researcher at the Utrecht School of the Arts, and before that as an interaction designer at several web agencies.

Abstract

Games are changing the field of education—in schools, in the workplace, and elsewhere. They have become popular tools because they allow players to learn by doing, by experiencing things first-hand, and by taking on roles, all in a safe space where mistakes can be made.

Hubbub has been designing games for education—and games for many other purposes—since 2009. Our focus has always been to make them as much fun as educational. Our approach is based on player-centric, iterative design coupled with a sophisticated understanding of the formal properties of games. In this talk we’ll explain how we go about designing a game for education in such a way that it meets its educational goals and is engaging for the people using it. We’ll use examples from our own work, as well as projects we look up to. The methods we’ll share should be of interest not just to designers of games for education, but anyone who is interested in better understanding how interactive systems of all kinds can be used to produce meaning.

Photo: Yohan Creemers

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