Gaming & immersive media

Aboutgames and immersive media

The iMinds-MICT Gaming and Immersive Media Lab is a leading group in psycho-social gaming research in Flanders and Europe. Our team counts eight researchers.

In 2008, we were the first to carry out large-scale survey research into gaming in Flanders. Since then, we have been actively participating in the public debate about games. We have published dozens of papers in international journals, proceedings and books.

Our team also participated in contract research such as Levenslijn (serious game for traffic safety) and European projects such as ‘Poverty is not a game’ (PING), a game for social awareness-raising and ‘Digital games for empowerment and inclusion’ (DGEI).

Three of our researchers have received four-year scholarships to conduct fundamental research from the Special Research Fund (BOF) of UGent and from the Agency of Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT).


Our goal is to strive for excellence in gaming and immersive media research. We deliver high-quality applied user research supported and inspired by long-term fundamental and methodological exploration.

Our approach is characterized by:

  • Collaboration with national and international research partners, companies and government bodies
  • Custom solutions specifically tailored to the research questions and challenges at hand
  • Multi-method approach combining various methods: qualitative (focus groups, in-depth interviews, ethnography) and/or quantitative (surveys, experiments, log analysis)
  • Evidence-based, data-driven empirical research
  • Scientific integrity


Our multi-disciplinary team conducts research situated in three areas:

1. Game use

How can playing experience and behavior be scientifically measured, described and understood? How does it relate to various categories of gamers and their motivations for playing?

Some projects:

2. Serious games

Games 4 - kleinHow can games support goals other than entertainment such as learning, training and awareness-raising?

Some projects:

3. Immersive media

How can we improve our understanding of immersive media such as virtual worlds, interactive video and augmented and virtual reality? What are the advantages and limitations of the use of new technologies?

Some projects:


Games 2 - kleinWe have broad experience in conducting research in the three areas mentioned above by means of:

  • Survey research
  • Qualitative methods
  • Social network analysis
  • Experimental research

Furthermore, we have recently started to acquire experience in the following cutting edge approaches to investigate user experience:

  • Psychophysiology (skin conductance, heart rate, EMG among others)
  • Log monitoring and analysis of in-game data
  • Advanced statistical analyses of behavioral data (accuracy and reaction data)
  • Assessment of cognitive abilities


Key Publications

  1. Núñez Castellar, E., All, A., De Marez, L., Van Looy, J. (in press). Cognitive abilities, digital games and arithmetic performance enhancement: Comparing the effects of a math game and paper exercises. Computers & Education. (ISI Impact Factor: 2.630, Q1 Education & educational research)
  2. De Grove, F., Van Looy, J. (2015). How to be a gamer! Exploring personal and social indicators of gamer identity. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. (ISI Impact Factor: 2.019, Q1 Communication, Q1 Information & library science)
  3. De Grove, F., Van Looy, J. (2014). Young people at play. Behaviors, motives and social structure. Computers in Human Behavior, 43, 263-271. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.012 (ISI Impact Factor: 2.476, Q2 Psychology, experimental, Q1 Psychology, multidisciplinary)
  4. De Grove, F., Cauberghe, V., Van Looy, J. (2014). Development and Validation of an Instrument for Measuring Individual Motives for Playing Digital Games. Media Psychology. doi:10.1080/15213269.2014.902318 (ISI Impact Factor: 1.725, Q1 Communication, Q2 Psychology, applied)
  5. De Grove, F., Cauberghe, V. , Van Looy, J. (2014). In pursuit of play. Towards a social cognitive understanding of determinants of digital play. Communication Theory 24 (2). doi:10.1111/comt.12030 (ISI Impact Factor: 1.476, Q2 Communication)
  6. Vermeulen, L., Núñez Castellar, E., Van Looy, J. (2014). Challenging the Other. Exploring the Role of Opponent Gender in Digital Game Competition for Female Players. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 17 (5), 1-7. doi:10.1089/cyber.2013.0331 (ISI Impact Factor: 2.410, Q1 Psychology, social)
  7. Núñez Castellar, E., Van Looy, J., Szmalec, A., De Marez, L. (2014). Improving arithmetic skills through gameplay: assessment of the effectiveness of an educational game in terms of cognitive and affective learning outcomes. Information Sciences 264, 19-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ins.2013.09.030 (ISI Impact Factor: 3.643, Q1 Computer science, information systems)
  8. Bombeke, K., Van Looy, J., Szmalec, A., & Duyck, W. (2013). Leaving the third dimension: no measurable evidence for cognitive aftereffects of stereoscopic 3D movies. Journal of the Society for Information Display 21(4), 159-166. doi: 10.1002/jsid.164 (ISI Impact Factor: 1.02)
  9. De Grove, F.; Bourgonjon, J.; Van Looy, J. (2012). Digital games in the classroom? A contextual approach to teachers’ adoption intention of digital games for learning purposes. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(6), 2023-2033. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.05.021 (ISI Impact Factor:2.476, Q2 Psychology, experimental, Q1 Psychology, multidisciplinary)
  10. Van Looy, J., Courtois, C., De Vocht, M., De Marez, L. (2012). Player Identification in Online Games: Validation of a Scale for Measuring Identification in MMOGs. Media Psychology, 15 (2),197-221. doi: 10.1080/15213269.2012.674917 (ISI Impact Factor: 1.725, Q1 Communication, Q2 Psychology, applied)


Further questions?

Contact Prof. dr. Jan Van Looy: