International PlayTrack Conference 2017

The IMC is pleased to announce the inaugural PlayTrack Conference 2017 at Aarhus University: "Playful experiences: Designs, Characteristics and Research"

2017.08.09 | Karsten Olsen

Date Mon 04 Dec Wed 06 Dec
Time 09:00    17:00
Location Conference Center Studenterhusfonden, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark
Registration opens Mon 04 Sep Register



The concept of the PLAYTrack conference 


From December 4-6th 2017, the Interacting Mind Centre (IMC) at Aarhus University is organising the first international PLAYTrack Conference on the theme “Playful experiences – designs, characteristics and research”. PLAYTrack is a 5-year research project at the IMC, funded by the LEGO Foundation and dedicated to exploring the questions of what play and especially playfulness mean and do for our personal performance, development and our interactions with each other.

Over the last decades, the concepts of play and playfulness in (product) design, science, education and the public, have undergone a considerable change. While previously considered as something “unserious”, “unreal” and “for kids”, they are now increasingly considered as important states and traits of what it means to be human. In addition, play and playfulness are increasingly considered human potentials that should be protected, fostered and spread to improve human well-being, development, and the surrounding environment.

It is an idealised assumption that technology and design generally are informed by fundamental research. When it comes to play and playfulness, such a basis should as a minimum consist of detailed descriptions of dimensions like experience, behaviour and physiology of the “playful state of mind”. However, despite a wide range of approaches the topic of play, ranging from biology, cognitive (neuro-)science, anthropology and philosophy, we still lack a common definition and operationalised description of what we consider as a playful state of mind or a playful experience. In particular, it remains unclear what exactly these states entail and how they are distinguished from related states, behaviours and experiences. Nevertheless, practitioners and designers of various realms have already invested heavily in the development of playful experiences and gained significant experiences with their products.

For this reason, the first PLAYTrack conference intends to take a bottom-up approach: We will firstly take a close look at some playful designs, as presented by their inventors. We will then try to frame these observations and experiential insights in more theoretical and generalizable terms on the basis of previous work of respective scholars, terms and concepts  that can finally be reflected and discussed on the basis of empirical studies as presented by invited researchers. The aim of this approach is to work towards a shared platform where we can better design, inform and improve future research on the topic.




The conference is structured across three days focusing on three design fields:

- Education

- Gamification/Organizational Psychology

- Social Interaction/Experience Design



      Design Field 


Day 1

Day 2 
Gamification/Organization Design

Day 3 
Interaction/Experience design





Intro to Conference and the IMC approach

Amos Blanton, LEGO foundation 




10:15 - 11:15



Camilla Fog, ISB & Benjamin Mardell and Mara Krechevsky, Project Zero, Harvard

Kars Alfrink, Leapfrog




Ofer Ravid, independent researcher and theatre maker             



13:00 - 14:00 




Reed Stevens, Northwestern University

Miguel Sicarts, IT University Copenhagen                

Richard Weihe, Accademia Teatro Dimitri

Empirical Researchers





PEDAL Researchers, Cambridge                                       

Paul Martin, Imperial College London

René Proyer, University of Halle


Group Work 



Reception, Posters    


Group Work



Reception, Posters


Group Work             


Presentation, Final words




Each conference day will be organised as follows: Morning and early afternoons are dedicated to talks and discussions. Late afternoons will bring presenters and conference participants together in groups: Each group will discuss the day’s presentations with the aim of creating proposals for future research/design on the topic. In the last afternoon session, these proposals will be presented. Call for poster abstracts

We also invite submissions of abstracts for posters. A poster session is planned at the end of the first two afternoons (aperitivo hour). Posters can represent executed or planned research fitting the conference topic, and/or playful design projects. The deadline for the poster application is the 1st of October.

We would also like to announce also 3 Student Scholarships for poster applications, covering travel, accommodation and dinner fees of the winners (only students (including PhD) may apply). The winners will be selected based on the submitted abstracts - and notified within 2 weeks. 

To submit your poster abstract, please follow this link. Please indicate at the end of the abstract if you want to apply for student scholarship. 


To ensure an intimate space for conversation, conference participation will be restricted to 60 spaces. An optional conference dinner will be organised on the 3rd day of the conference. The cost will be 50 Euro per person, and will be charged in advance during the online registration. Please indicate any dietary preferences in the online registration. The costs for speakers and scholarship awarded students will be covered.


To register for the conference, please follow this link (Registration is now open). NB: We have limited the conference to 60 participants and spaces are given on a first-come basis, so do register sooner than later. 




Accomodation and hotels


Hotel Scandic City Aarhus, Østergade 10, 8000 Aarhus C


Hotel Ritz, Banegårdspladsen 12, 8000 Aarhus C


Comwell, Værkmestergade 2, 8000 Aarhus C


Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Margrethepladsen 1, 8000 Aarhus C


Best Western, The Mayor Hotel, Banegårdspladsen 14, 8000 Aarhus C



Wakeup Aarhus, M. P. Bruuns Gade 27, DK-8000 Aarhus C


Hotel Cabinn Aarhus, Kannikegade 14, 8000 Aarhus C


AirBnB vacancies






Organised by Katrin Heimann, Andreas Lieberoth, Karsten Olsen, Marc Andersen & Andreas Roepstorff


Looking forward to seeing you!