Sometimes it can be nice to just take a seat, relax, and listen to what exciting game experts have to say about the use of games for wellbeing!

We offer talks from different corners of the game world: some experts will discuss the science behind games for wellbeing, while others will discuss the importance of play and how a great community was able to be built around wholesome games.

Read more about the talks below! Please note that some talks are in Dutch, while one talk is in English.


11:30 – 12:00

The Positive Effects of Video Games

Dr Hanneke Scholten
Assistant Professor at University of Twente

It’s everywhere in the media, and many discussions have taken place between parents and their children about the supposed negative effects of video gaming. But are those effects real? In this talk, Dr Hanneke Scholten will explain the science behind the benefits of playing video games and how we can even use those benefits to prevent or treat mental health problems among children and young people.


12:15 – 12:45

A Brief History of Wholesome Games:
Creating Space for Compassionate, Thoughtful and Uplifting Games

Esmeé van’t Hoff
Designer at Tidbits Play & Organiser at Wholesome Games

For the longest time, the most critically acclaimed games have been the ones with the darkest themes and grimmest depictions of life— but now there’s room at the table for developers who strive to do the opposite! Wholesome Games, an ever-growing platform focused on elevating these titles, wants to show us that these games aren’t just “cute” distractions, but just as capable of broaching complex ideas or mature themes. In this talk by one of Wholesome Games’ Organisers, Esmeé van’t Hoff will explain how this community came to be, the shift in the industry’s perception, and how this affected her and fellow game developers personally.


13:15 – 13:45

Games Against Taboos:
Facilitating Conversation about Relationship Violence among Young People

Dr Ruud Jacobs
Assistant Professor at University of Twente

In this talk, Dr Ruud Jacobs will discuss how games can help young people think and talk about relationship violence. Jacobs will show how games can teach the player to recognise physical and mental abuse in themselves and in others, and also what steps you can take to stop abuse. In his talk, Jacobs discusses how game systems and rules can be used to raise awareness within players by letting them draw their own conclusions about how relationship violence can arise and how it can be prevented.


14:00 – 14:30

The Importance of Play: Can Games Make the World a Better Place?

Niki Smit
Co-Founder and Designer at Monobanda

In this talk, Niki Smit will shed light on the power of play and the changing role of game designers in society through their unique view on human behaviour. Game designers are increasingly blurring the boundaries between disciplines by collaborating with scientists, educators, and healthcare professionals to contribute to positive changes in physical and mental wellbeing. Game designers are dependent on the playful nature of humans, where play acts as a lens through which we explore our environment, the other, and ourselves. To emphasise the power of play, Niki Smit will discuss a number of projects that playfully connect the human body, the physical space and the virtual world to improve our well-being.


14:45 – 15:15

Playing is Growing Up Healthy

Dr Heidi Lesscher
Associate Professor at University of Utrecht

Playing is fun, and we recognise play when we see it! But did you know that play is also important for healthy social, emotional and cognitive development? Play allows humans (and animals!) to try out different behaviours, practice socialising, and learn from challenges we face. We know a lot about play and the importance of play from research with rodents. For example, we know that rats that cannot physically play with peers at a young age end up more anxious, having less cognitive control, ánd end up being less well-adjusted socially. Research in rats has also shown that not being able to play affects brain development! What about humans? This lecture will open your eyes and show that play is not a waste of time, but is actually the foundation for the healthy development of every human being.