GAme Design as a self-TRAnsformative Practice Designing games as an activity for self-reflection and self-construction

While games and videogames are commonly associated with entertainment, their use for training and education has proven socially valuable in several socio-cultural contexts. Games that promote positive change (sometimes grouped under the umbrella term ‘Serious Games’) have the primary objective of fostering desirable psychological and/or behavioural transformations in players. In 'Serious Games', positive changes are pursued through experiences that educate interactively and playfully.

Our ongoing research project investigates philosophically and experimentally the possibility that - while designing games that are supposed to be transformative for their players - the game designers undergo significant changes of the same kind.

Our aim is to deepen our understanding of the potential of the practice of game design as a 'technology of the self', as a self-transformative practice. We pursue this objective in order to promote socio-cultural change and to find new and efficient educational methods. We envisage a future where, one day, game design exercises will be as common in classrooms as drawing, acting, and crafting activities.


As more thoroughly explained here, this research project proposal is inspired by the later phase of French philosopher Michel Foucault’s work, and we like to think of it as an example of ‘applied philosophy’.

Michel Foucault’s (1926 – 1984) reflections on 'technologies of the self' and auto-poietic practices were inspiring for this project (image from The School of Life)


Technical Details

Game Design as a Self-Transformative Practice is funded by The University of Malta Research Fund.

It is conducted at the Institute of Digital Games (IDG - University of Malta) combining a variety of research methods (quantitative, qualitative, and research by design) over several videogame design cycles and on many games and videogames.

Game Design as a Self-Transformative Practice takes place at the intersection between game design and experimental psychology and is, thus, pursued in collaboration with various cognitive science institutes. Currently, our main collaborator in that respect is the Cognitive Science Department (CGS - University of Malta).


The Team

Collaborators (past and present)