Official course description:

Full info last published 15/05-23
Course info
ECTS points:
Course code:
Participants max:
Offered to guest students:
Offered to exchange students:
Offered as a single subject:
Price for EU/EEA citizens (Single Subject):
21250 DKK
MSc. Master
MSc in Games
Course manager
Full Professor, Head of Section
Course semester
Efterår 2023
28 August 2023
26 January 2024
Exam type
ekstern censur
Grade Scale
Exam Language
This course teaches how to explore technologies for their potential in regards to play.

This is not a game design course.

PlayLab is a studio-based course focused on exploring the design space of emerging technologies from the perspective of play. By combining theory from game design, interaction design, philosophy of technology, and media theory, PlayLab both explores the knowledge required to create new concepts for cutting-edge commercial technologies and proposes new methods and paradigms for developing content for those platforms. PlayLab is a course about playing with software, and in doing so engaging in critical technology studies. 

Throughout the course students explore the design challenges and opportunities that arise with new digital technology. A central part of the work is the development of prototypes that explore future forms of digital play, where and how they may succeed or fail. This is a course about finding the play element in cutting-edge technology.

In 2022, these technologies will be web-based Machine Learning, and OpenAI’s GTP-2 text generator. Examples will be introduced using p5.js and ml5.js, as well as a selection of Colaboratory Notebooks and other platforms. Prospective students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these technologies before the course starts. Students are also welcome to use whichever technologies they are comfortable with in for making their projects. The best tool is that which gets the job done.

GPT-2 will be introduced using this tutorial as a starting point:

PlayLab introduces students to the method of Critical Technical Practice (Agre, 1997). The course presents students with relevant theory for the exploration of play design as a method for creating interactive experiences with new and emerging technologies. At the same time, PlayLab is a practical course in which students develop one proof-of-concept and one fully-fledged prototype that explore both the theory and the material properties of the selected technologies. Students can choose which technology to use for each of these requirements.

PlayLab is a course that allows students to think while making, and make while thinking, exclusively focused in the challenges of new and emerging commercial digital technologies.

Formal prerequisites

PlayLab is not a course about game design. Therefore, students are not required to have passed any course on game design. In general, the course has no prerequisites.

It is an advantage if students are familiar with design methods and theories. Technical skills are not a requirement, but since this is a studio-based course, development skills are welcome.

Intended learning outcomes

After the course, the student should be able to:

  • Analyze the design space of new and emerging technologies, as well as their technological possibilities and limits.
  • Describe the different insights that play provides as a design perspective.
  • Explore the playful possibilities of new and emerging commercial technologies
  • Design and develop new play experiences and concepts tailored for new and emerging commercial technologies.
  • Apply advanced concepts in play theory to the literature and practice of design
  • Understand advanced concepts in play theory as applicable to the analysis of digital playful technologies
Learning activities

The course is structured around a combination of lectures, workshops, student-driven seminars, and lab sessions. 

Lectures are classic, teacher-driven lectures, in which students are presented with the main theoretical concepts of the course. All lectures will be broadcasted live, recorded, and distributed through LearnIT. Students should know however that this is a course that expects, but not requires, group work, and therefore there is an advantage in attending the lectures when possible.

Workshops are sessions scheduled to introduce and explore the technologies selected for the course. The first 2 weeks of the course will be focused on these workshops. Workshops will be broadcasted live, recorded, and distributed through LearnIT. Again, attendance is highly encouraged as group work is expected.

Student-driven seminars are activities in which students, in groups, read and prepare a presentation of a part of the course literature, for class discussion (all students will have to prepare at least one seminar).

Lab sessions are scheduled so students can have time to develop their prototypes and receive feedback from the course manager. 

Students will have 4 weeks to produce the first project, the proof of concept. After that, students will have to work on their final project.

Besides the lab sessions, the course has been designed so students will have time for development after each lecture and seminar. Workshops will be used to help students brainstorm and come up with the concepts for the course.

In each seminar, students will have 15-30 minutes to present some of the readings of the course. This presentation will then lead to a class discussion of those ideas, led by the course manager. The goal with the seminars is double: to let students practice their academic, critical reading skills, and to allow for the students to present and discuss the topics they find more relevant from the course literature.

Students will have access to the course manager during all lab session hours, as well as during the time scheduled for exercises after the lectures.

Course literature

The course literature is published in the course page in LearnIT.

Student Activity Budget
Estimated distribution of learning activities for the typical student
  • Preparation for lectures and exercises: 20%
  • Lectures: 20%
  • Assignments: 60%
Ordinary exam
Exam type:
C: Submission of written work, External (7-point scale)
Exam variation:
C1G: Submission of written work for groups
Exam submission description:
For the exam, students submit a portfolio with the prototypes developed in groups during the course.
Together with the prototypes, students hand in an individual reflection on each prototype. That reflection is a text no longer than 5000 words in total, in which students analyze their own work using the course contents, with a focus on applying the method of critical technical practice.
Group submission:
Group and individual
  • A group consists of 2-4 students.

Exam type:
C: Submission of written work, External (7-point scale)
Exam variation:
C1G: Submission of written work for groups
Group submission:
Group and individual
  • 2-4 students

Time and date
Ordinary Exam - submission Mon, 8 Jan 2024, 08:00 - 14:00
Reexam - submission Wed, 28 Feb 2024, 08:00 - 14:00