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Personal profile


“Researching game and play design, I try to put the fun in functional.”

Research profile

Erik van der Spek is Assistant Professor of Game and Play Design. He is the chair of the Industrial Design (ID) Department Council and secretary of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Technical Committee on Entertainment Computing (TC14). He also leads the ID Play Lab. His research interests are the design of games and play for entertainment, learning, vitality and empathy. From playful interaction to immersive VR experiences, Van der Spek tries to discover the elements that engage us to construct imaginary magic circles, to have cathartic mediated presence experiences in fantasy environments, and that stimulate us to see the world in a newfound light.

In addition to his TC14 work, Van der Spek has been the student game competition chair for CHI Play and supervises more than 60 student games per year, some of which have won national or international prizes and recognition.

Academic background

Erik van der Spek holds an MSc in Game Technology (2007) and a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction (2011) from Utrecht University. Immediately after obtaining his doctorate, Van der Spek joined Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) as Assistant Professor. He also founded game design consultancy firm Game Descience in 2013. 

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Projects 2017 2019


Vos, S., Funk, M., van der Spek, E., Menheere, D., Brombacher, A., van der Avoird, M., Schoumacher, J., van Mierlo, P., van Mierlo, P. & Vos, S.


Project: Research directResearch


Research Output 2012 2019

Exploring tangible interaction and diegetic feedback in an ar math game for children

Li, J., van der Spek, E., Hu, J. & Feijs, L., 12 Jun 2019, Proceedings of the 18th ACM International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, IDC 2019. New York: Association for Computing Machinery, Inc, p. 580-585 6 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

Touch screens
Augmented reality

The playful scientist: stimulating playful communities for science practice

Schouten, B. A. M., van der Spek, E. D., Harmsen, D. & Bartholomeus, E. J. C., 1 Jan 2019, The playful citizen: civic engagement in a mediatized culture. Glas, R., Lammes, S., de Lange, M., Raessens, J. & de Vries, I. (eds.). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, p. 235-254 (Games and Play)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

Open Access

Encouraging physical activity and self-enhancement in women with breast cancer through a smart bra

Menheere, D. S., Megens, C. J. P. G., van der Spek, E. D. & Vos, S. B., Jun 2018, DRS: Design Research Society 2018, 25-28 June 2018, Limerick, Ireland. 2018: Design Research Society. 12 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Breast Neoplasms
Research Design
Equipment and Supplies

Encouraging physical activity through wearable technology

Menheere, D. S., Funk, M., van der Spek, E. D. & Vos, S. B., 27 Nov 2018 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic

Open Access
Public health

Student theses

Active workspace: towards an active lifestyle in the work environment

Author: van Veen, T., Jun 2018

Supervisor: Peters, P. (Supervisor 1) & van der Spek, E. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master

Babel library

Author: Yu, Y., 31 Jan 2017

Supervisor: van der Spek, E. (Supervisor 1) & Brombacher, A. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master

BRIDGE: connecting children with different backgrounds

Author: Smets, J. H., Jun 2018

Supervisor: van der Spek, E. (Supervisor 1) & Chuang, Y. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Bachelor


Author: Olivier, F., 2016

Supervisor: van der Spek, E. (Supervisor 1) & Lu, Y. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Bachelor

Changing perspectives

Author: Loeffen, T., Jun 2017

Supervisor: van der Spek, E. (Supervisor 1) & Martens, J. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Bachelor