Erik D. van der Spek


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    Citations - based on content available in repository [source: Scopus]

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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 research director of the TU/e Game/Play Lab and secretary of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Technical Committee on Entertainment Computing (TC14). 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.

Van der Spek has been a board member of the TU/e Data Science Center, chair of the ID Department Council and Squad Leader of the Vital Play, Play and Learn and Games and Play squads. He is currently in the steering committee and has been the program chair of ICEC. He has also been the student game competition chair for CHI Play, ICEC, 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. 

Education and Teaching


Erik van der Spek’s main expertise areas are U&S (cognition and motivational psychology), T&R (game engines and XR), C&A (entertainment design) and MDC (algorithms and statistics).

Squad: Games & Play

Erik van der Spek heads the Hyperreality theme of the Games and Play squad.

Examples of graduation projects
VREE by Caro van Kessel
OpenMindED by Koen Damen:
Totzo! By Samantha Galvez Vargas

Research focus, project topics I like to coach:
“Society is moving towards a hyperreality, where virtual reality blends into and becomes physical reality. How can we use the fantasy-inducing possibilities of games and mixed reality technologies to spark someone’s imagination, motivate them and teach new knowledge, skills, and attitudes? And how do you move away from the hamster wheel of gamification but create meaningful, intrinsically motivating and entertaining experiences for vitality, empathy and learning?”

Coaching style
Erik van der Spek is a laid-back coach with a scientific focus, and in mentoring emphasizes vision development.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Dive into the research topics where Erik D. van der Spek is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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  • Best Design Award

    Zuo, Tengjia (Recipient), van der Spek, Erik D. (Recipient), Hu, Jun (Recipient) & Birk, Max V. (Recipient), 2021

    Prize: OtherCareer, activity or publication related prizes (lifetime, best paper, poster etc.)Scientific

  • Best Paper Award at IFIP-ICEC 2021

    Smets, Jolie (Recipient) & van der Spek, Erik D. (Recipient), 2021

    Prize: OtherCareer, activity or publication related prizes (lifetime, best paper, poster etc.)Scientific