Summer School on Playful Interaction

SIGCHI Sponsored summer school
Centre for Game Design Research, RMIT University, Australia

Dates: Nov 10-14, 2017


Students interested in modern game development and game design research are invited to attend the first SIGCHI sponsored Summer School on Playful Interactions. This is for PhD and master students (but we also welcome advanced Bachelor students) from around world. (organized by the Centre for Game Design Research and the Exertion Games Lab at RMIT University, Australia).

In this five-day event, participants will learn about significant game design concepts, game mechanics, and techniques that are increasingly used in modern game development and game design research. There will be a strong focus on developing skills through practical sessions, with a direct experience in building and studying games and importantly "learn about fun by having fun".


The aim of this summer school is to improve participants’ understanding of significant game design concepts, mechanics and techniques commonly or increasingly used in the field of Player-Computer Interaction (PCI). The need for this is two-fold:

The game industry is worth more than $100 billion globally and continues to expand each year. Gaming now extends far beyond traditional gaming consoles such as PS3 and Xbox and ventures into PC, mobile, VR and AR platforms with growing popularity and developments of indie games, serious games and more. However, most PhD graduate programs do not offer dedicated courses on digital play and games. Addressing this, we organise this summer school in order to educate future graduates about what new interactions between players and technology are afforded by these trends, so that they a) understand their play experiences better, as this helps understanding human life and culture, b) can help their future employers better in creating playful products, and c) are enabled to utilize the power of play in order to facilitate positive change, such as when addressing societal problems.

Graduate students in HCI and interaction design are already increasingly utilizing game design when exploring novel interaction concepts or are playfully addressing specific HCI topics (see for examples the many games that come out of the UIST student competition each year, although the call does not require explicitly the development of a game). Owing to the popularity of games and the increased focus within HCI on play, a new SIGCHI conference “CHI PLAY” and a dedicated subcommittee “Games and Play” at CHI has been established that brings together researchers and professionals across all areas of play, games and human-computer interaction to shape the future of gameplay. This summer school will offer a way to engage with game design in a structured and evidence-based way to grow students’ knowledge and understanding of digital play and games, with a particular focus on PCI.

Call for submissions

The summer school is primarily intended for PhD students and masters students undertaking a research degree, but we also welcome advanced Bachelor students to register. Please send us the following:

1-page CV (as PDF uploaded to dropbox or other public URL)

1-page motivation statement (optional)

All submitted proposals are subject to acceptance by the committee members. Proposals should be mailed to:
Use this as subject line: Summer school 2017 submission
Registration cost: AUD 100
You will be notified immediately about your acceptance to the summer school.
(There will be on-desk registration on the first day of the summer school, so please bring the money, preferably in cash with you).
*** Students should arrange their own travel and accomodation. ***

*** For International students requiring a visa please get your application in as early as possible. If you are unable to make this date please contact us and we will see what is possible. ***

Important dates (Updated)

Sept. 30, 2017
Sept. 12, 2017
Nov. 10, 2017
Nov. 14, 2017

Submission deadline (extended).
List of accepted students in up on the website.
Summer School starts.
Summer School ends.

Accepted students

Kristina Madsen | Aalborg University, Denmark |
Daniel Schmidl | University of Regensburg, Germany |
Cuauhtli Campos | Technological University of the Mixteca, Mexico |
Josh Andres | RMIT University, Australia |
Callum Parker | University of Sydney, Australia |
Soojeong (Crystal) Yoo | University of Sydney, Australia |
Louis Chew | University of Sydney, Australia |
Jarek Beksa | AUT University, New Zealand |
George Regal | AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Austria |
Blaire Wilde | RMIT University, Australia |
Amanda Cavalcanti | University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia |
Caleb Lewis | Queensland University of Technology, Australia |Engaging with Story through Intermedial Play
Deepti Aggarwal | University of Melbourne, Australia | Understanding the role of play in clinical settings
Zhuying Lee | RMIT University, Australia |
Marketa Dolejsova | National University of Singapore, Singapore |
Rakesh Patibanda | RMIT University, Australia |
Lee Jones | Carleton University, Canada | Wearables for Post-Stroke Rehabilitation
Luke Hughes | Queensland University of Technology, Australia |
Asher Rubinstein | Game Designer, Australia |

Tentative Schedule

The summer school will start at 9 am on each day. The morning session will be dedicated to lectures whereas the afternoon session will involve practical group work. The session will close at 5 pm. Welcome dinner will happen on the second day.

  • Day 1

  • Introductory course in game design and development

    09:00 am to 05:00 pm

    The first part of the summer school will be dedicated to game design principles and practical game development. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of game design and will be creating a playable digital game from start to finish. Students will learn how to craft a compelling interactive play experience through rules and play in a number of different formats.

    There would also be inspiring talks from academics and industry leaders on a range of related topics.The detailed program will be updated soon.

    Confirmed speakers: John Sietsma, Dr. Jonathan Duckworth, Dr. Adam Nash

  • Day 2

  • Workshop #1: Designing games for the active body

    09:00 am to 05:00 pm

    Prof. Florian Mueller

    This workshop will provide a hands-on exploration of the intersection between play, digital technology and the body. Participants will engage with the complete process of creating digital bodily play experiences, from coming up with the initial play concept to designing a functional prototype of the envisioned play experience. Each thematic session will be introduced by a short lecture followed by practical group work. By the end of the workshop attendees will have learnt the skills and knowledge necessary for designing novel bodily play experiences, allowing them to take their new understanding beyond the workshop so they can create their own body-focused games in the future.

  • Day 3

  • Workshop #2: Playful Recipes for Digital Food Lifestyles

    09:00 am to 05:00 pm

    Dr. Rohit Ashok Khot

    This workshop will provide an overview of the Human Food Interaction (HFI) field while drawing attention on grand challenges (personal, sociopolitical, and environmental) associated with digital food lifestyles. Following a hands-on playful approach, we will discuss and experiment with digital technologies used in food making (e.g. 'smart' kitchenware, digital and Machine Learning cookbooks; diet planning, personalized nutrition); food sharing (food sharing apps and IoT sensors); dining (e.g. social dining services and interactive dining tools); and also food play (celebratory technology, food based games). At the end of the workshop, we expect that participants will have a good understanding of state of the art research in digital food technologies and will be aware of the open research question in the field.

  • Day 4

  • Workshop #3: Exploring Interactions and Movement in the Virtual Reality Design Space

    09:00 am to 05:00 pm

    A/Prof. Stefan Greuter

    This full day workshop about the Virtual Reality Design Space will take participants through a brief history of Virtual Reality, expose participants to key technological platforms, and demonstrate a series of applications followed by a critical discussion. The workshop discusses the unique affordances of the design space with a focus on interaction and movement within the virtual space. In the afternoon participants will be guided through the design and development of their own VR space and invited to participate in a peer feedback. The workshop closes with a summary of key concepts and a brief overview of future developments.

  • Day 5

  • Workshop #4: Designing games for physical spaces

    09:00 pm to 05:00 pm

    Dr. Fabio Zambetta

    This workshop will provide an overview of mixed and augmented reality and of spatially-aware computing games & applications. We will present a first case study deployed at Village Roadshow’s Gold Coast “Movie World” theme park, a mobile AR game to be played in a queue. We will then introduce AR and capabilities offered by current-generation headsets e.g., the Microsoft Hololens. We will also clarify the relationship between different forms of alternate reality i.e., virtual, augmented, mixed and simulated. We will conclude the workshop with a brainstorming/hacking session to develop a more sophisticated AR application in queue environments other than theme parks.

About the Venue

The Summer school with happen in Swanston Academic Building (SAB), which is one of the newest and most iconic buildings of RMIT University and houses the College of Business.

RMIT University
Building 80, Level 03 Room 15,
445 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Google Maps Location

About Melbourne

Melbourne is the capital of digital games in Australia. It is home to almost half of Australia’s digital games industry including 103 game development studios, some of the country’s best talent and support services including animation, motion capture, publishing and promotion. The continued expansion of games conferences such as Game Connect: Asia Pacific and PAX Aus in Melbourne is confirmation of the city’s burgeoning reputation as a gaming and technology hub. This summer school thus provides an excellent opportunity to students to tap into the growing gaming field and use opportunities for further collaborations.

Travel & visa

Please use this link for information about travel and visa.



Dr. Rohit Ashok Khot
Exertion Games Lab,
RMIT University, Australia

Rohit Ashok Khot is the Deputy Director of the Exertion Games Lab; and VC Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Media and Comm. at RMIT University, Australia. Rohit leads the node on ‘Data and new materialities’ within the Design & Creative Practice ECP, where he is exploring the implication of food printing and molecular sensing towards personalized nutrition and improving food literacy.

Full Bio


Prof. Florian 'Floyd' Mueller
Exertion Games Lab,
RMIT University, Australia

Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller directs the Exertion Games Lab at RMIT, Melbourne, Australia. Floyd’s research is focused on the intersection of play, technology and the active human body, aiming to support human values. His team’s Exertion Games were played by over 20,000 players across 3 continents and were featured on the BBC, ABC, Discovery Science Channel and Wired magazine.

Full Bio


A/Prof. Stefan Greuter
RMIT University, Australia

Stefan Greuter is the founder and director of the Centre for Game Design Research (CGDR) at RMIT University. Stefan Greuter’s research is interested in solving existing problems using innovative game design experiences that bring together research from multiple disciplines and specialises on solutions involving the latest game technology. Most of Stefan’s research projects involve the development of game prototypes to progress knowledge.

Full Bio


Dr. Fabio Zambetta
RMIT University, Australia

Dr Fabio Zambetta is the Director of the Artificial Intelligence for Game Design node and also a Senior Lecturer in the School of CS&IT, RMIT University. Fabio has about 10 years experience in delivering studio-based introductory classes in a multi disciplinary environment and has taught specialist units in games AI, machine learning, computer graphics and virtual reality over the last 15 years. Fabio’s research interests focus on AI in computer games, Procedural Content Generation, Interactive Narrative and the use of Machine Learning in games.

Full Bio