Transformative Play Initiative

Can games transform us in profound, meaningful, and lasting ways? Whether played in leisure time or in professional contexts, play can impact us significantly. Games invite us to shift our perspectives, our behavior, our relationships, and our ways of interacting with the world around us. These shifts in perspective can lead us to feel more empowered, empathetic, aware, engaged, and skilled. The Transformative Play Initiative combines these research interests with education. Our goals include:

  • Developing accessible tools for designing and facilitating transformative play experiences;
  • Building online and on campus graduate programs in Transformative Game Design for practitioners in helping professions;
  • Hosting workshops, lectures, roundtables, and seminars featuring experts in the field in our Transformative Play Initiative Event Series;
  • Collaborating with international partners on research projects;
  • Maintaining an open-access archive of relevant research, documentation, design tools, and best practices;
  • Securing physical spaces for experimental design, play, and research to take place; and
  • Producing academic and popular source materials on theory, practice, and case studies related to transformative play.


Doris Rusch

Sarah Lynne Bowman

Josephine Baird

Josefin Westborg

Kjell Hedgard Hugaas

Elektra Diakolambrianou

Andrew M. Phelps

Kaya Toft Thejls


Grants and project funding

Games & Society Lab


Sustainable Heritage Research Fund (SuHRF) grant for the Role-playing, Culture, and Heritage Seminar. October 6-8, 2022. (Forthcoming). (Doris Rusch and Sarah Lynne Bowman).

  • Amount: 150,000 SEK


Are you involved in designing or implementing transformative play experiences? Do you work with these topics in your research or pedagogy? If so, we are interested in collaborating with local, national and international partners.

To contact us, email

If you want to stay updated on news and developments, join the Transformative Play Initiative mailing list:

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