Keynote Speakers

(in alphabetic order)

(in alphabetic order)

Kathrin Gerling

Kathrin Gerling will talk about "Critical Reflections on Serious Games in Sensitive Settings".


Kathrin Gerling is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at KU Leuven, Belgium. Her work broadly falls into Human-Computer Interaction and Physical Computing: She is particularly interested in how interfaces can be made accessible for disabled people, and how interactive technologies including Digital Games and Virtual Reality can be leveraged to support well-being and contribute to more inclusive societies. Excellence of her work and that of her students has been recognized through multiple awards, including a recent Best Paper Award at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors on Computing Systems (CHI) for research into movement-based play for physically disabled people. Kathrin previously held an appointment as Senior Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the University of Lincoln, UK, and received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. She is an active member of the HCI and Games Research community, and currently acts as General Chair for CHI PLAY 2022.

Alexander Kulik

Alexander Kulik will focus in his talk on the promises and challenges of social mixed reality for training.


Dr. Alexander Kulik is the CEO of Consensive GmbH, a recent Spin-Off from the Virtual Reality and Visualization Research Group at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Weimar, Germany. The company develops social mixed reality for training, research, and education. He is enthusiastic about user interfaces that leverage human cognitive, manual, and social skills for expressive interactions and received the "IEEE VR Best Dissertation Award" in 2018 for his research on "User Interfaces for Cooperation".

Helmut Niegemann will talk about Instructional Design for Serious Games


Prof. Dr. Helmut M. Niegemann is currently Senior Professor of Business Education at Goethe University Frankfurt since 2014 and Honorary Professor of Educational Technology at Saarland University since 2016. Until 2012 he held the Chair of Learning and New Media at the University of Erfurt, before that he was Professor of Media Design/Digital Media at the TU Ilmenau. Previous positions: Head of the Instructional Design Department at the German Institute for Distance Learning Research (University of Tübingen), TU Darmstadt, University of Mannheim, freelancer (IT continuing education, technical writing), Saarland University, teacher at BBZ Neunkirchen/Saar. Studies of psychology, educational science, computer science and sociology at Saarland University. Married, 2 children, 3 grandchildren.

Anton Nijholt

Developments in Augmented Reality: Changing the Game?

Developments in augmented reality (AR) technology allow us to think of everpresent hands-free AR with (optical) see-through eyewear. We discuss these developments and pay attention to the many problems that have to be solved. Can we consider a transfer of AR use from a single user in a small-scale physical game environment to a larger, perhaps public space-like environment in which we can play urban games or see our daily or professional activities expanded with a gaming component? Possible consequences of the developments in AR technology for (serious) gaming will be discussed with input from the audience.


Anton Nijholt received his Ph.D. in computer science from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He held positions at various universities, inside and outside the Netherlands. In 1989 he was appointed full professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, where he initiated its Human Media Interaction group. For some years he was a scientific advisor of Philips Research Europe, Eindhoven. His main research interests are multimodal interaction with a focus on entertainment computing, affect, humor, and brain-computer interfacing. Nijholt, together with many of the fifty Ph.D. students he supervised, wrote numerous journal and conference papers on these topics and acted as program chair and general chair of many large international conferences on entertainment computing, virtual agents, affective computing, faces & gestures, multimodal interaction, computer animation, and brain-computer interfaces. More recently he explores those topics in augmented reality environments. Recent edited books include the 2019/2020 books “Making Smart Cities More Playable: Exploring Playable Cities” and "Brain Art: Brain-Computer Interfaces for Artistic Expression." In 2023 an edited book on "Playful Augmented Reality" will be published by Springer.

Samuli Laato

Samuli Laato will talk about "Location-based games as serious games".


Samuli Laato has a background in software engineering, and has worked in research projects in the fields of education and business. He got his PhD from University of Turku in 2021, and is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at Gamification Group, Tampere University, Finland. He has studied location-based games extensively, and his primary research interests concern how location-based games can be leveraged for positive outcomes. Laato’s current research is part of the Academy of Finland -funded UNITE flagship project, that seeks to explore new technological opportunities for human-forest interplay, and here his main responsibility is the study of location-based technologies. He has over 60 peer-reviewed publications and has been published in outlets such as Computers and Human Behavior, Internet Research, European Journal of Information Systems and Journal of Medical Internet Research. He will talk about "Location-based games as serious games".

Johanna Pirkers' talk is headlined "We Will All be Game Developers"


Dr. Johanna Pirker (Dr. tech. Dipl.Ing. BSc in Software Engineering and Economics and Computer Science from Graz University of Technology) is assistant professor, software engineer, and researcher at the Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science at Graz University of Technology (TUG). She finished her Master’s Thesis during a research visit at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) working on collaborative virtual world environments. In 2017, she finished her doctoral dissertation in computer science on motivational environments under the supervision of Christian Gütl (TUG) and John Belcher (MIT). She specialized in games and environments that engage users to learn, train, and work together through motivating tasks. She has long-lasting experience in game design and development, as well as virtual world development and has worked in the video game industry at Electronic Arts. Her research interests include AI, data analysis, immersive environments (VR), games research, gamification strategies, HCI, e-learning, CSE, and IR. She has authored and presented numerous publications in her field and lectured at universities, such as Harvard, Berlin Humboldt Universität, or the University of Göttingen.  Since 2016 is organizing the annual Game Dev Days Graz, the biggest Austrian game developers’ conference. She is an experienced speaker to a broad range of audiences including TedX, GDC, and national TV events.  Johanna was listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of science professionals, and was awarded the Women in Tech Award by Futurezone (2019), the Käthe Leicher Award (2020), and the Hedy-Lamarr Award (2021).

Jan L. Plass

Jan L. Plass will discuss Learning Mechanics, Assessment Mechanics, Emotional Design, Adaptivity Design, and Level Design in his talk entitled "Five Design Features to make Games more Effective for Learning"


Dr. Jan L. Plass is a Professor at New York University, holding the Paulette Goddard Chair in Digital Media and Learning Sciences. He is the founding director of the CREATE Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technology in Education and co-director of the Games for Learning Institute. Dr. Plass’ draws from a broad range of fields, including cognitive science, learning sciences, computer science, and design to envision, design, and study the future of learning with digital technologies, with a current focus on games and VR. He has published widely and is the lead editor of the Handbook of Game-based Learning (MIT Press, 2020). Dr. Plass is a frequent national and international keynote speaker and advisor, helping governments and businesses to increase the human capacity in an ecology of lifelong learning by applying cognitive science and learning sciences principles.