CfP: Int Journal of Human-Computer Studies (IJHCS): Special issue on Participatory Design for Serious Games

Participatory design (PD) approaches are gaining traction across the field of HCI. However, their use in serious game design remains less frequent. While the application of PD is a situated phenomenon, it is still possible to distil some shared causes for this that apply across contexts, including historically “designer-led” game design processes, difficulties reaching common ground within interdisciplinary teams involved in serious games design, and end users’ lack of domain expertise. The aim of this special issue is to make progress in advancing epistemological and related methodological developments.

We seek case studies of how PD has been used in different stages of serious game design processes, specific methods appropriated or developed for doing so, and details of (problematic) dynamics between PD processes and serious game design. Authors are asked to engage in critical reflections with a particular focus on the complex interaction between the values of PD, the pedagogical and entertainment requirements of serious games, and the multi-faceted perspectives that design stakeholders often introduce. The special issue is expected to be of interest to both researchers and practitioners of the games, educational technologies and PD communities.


Case studies will be encouraged to address, while not being limited to, the following questions:


·      How does expertise influence power dynamics between different stakeholders? How should future players be involved in the design of game systems if they do not understand how game systems work, or equally if they don’t possess domain expertise?

·      How should we build on the perspectives, values, and ideas of players if, as politically incorrect as it sounds, these are not game-friendly, clash with the design aesthetics of game designers or contravene evidence from learning theories?

·      Given the type of stakeholders involved in serious games design, what are the value dilemmas that can occur and how can these be overcome by fostering intragroup or co-design dynamics?

·      What do researchers and users expect from PD and are these expectations realized in PD projects?

·      In light of the empowerment focus of PD, how can we use game design processes to empower users, and what do we do when users do not want to be empowered?

·      How might we use PD to foster an accountability culture in relation to the promise of serious games? How do we identify and address tokenism?


Guest Editors:

Rilla Khaled, University of Malta

Vero Vanden Abeele, KU Leuven

Maarten Van Mechelen, KU Leuven

Mina Vasalou, London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education


Submission instructions: Manuscripts should generally not exceed 8000 words (excluding references). Papers should be prepared according to the IJHCS Guide for authors, and should be submitted online according to the journal’s instructions. The IJHCS Guide for authors and online submission are available at Papers will be desk reviewed at a first stage by the visiting journal editors to establish their relevance for the special issue.


Submission deadline: March 1, 2015

First round of notifications: May 15, 2015

Final round of notifications: Sept 30, 2015


For more information contact:

Rilla Khaled

Institute of Digital Games

University of Malta


Vero Vanden Abeele

e-Media Lab

KU Leuven


Maarten Van Mechelen

CUO | Social Spaces, iMinds

KU Leuven


Asimina Vasalou

London Knowledge Lab

Institute of Education



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