The I-PE project aims at researching how we can design intelligent play environments for open-ended play. Open-ended play is a form of play in which rules and goals in play are not provided to players, it is up to them to define those rules and goals. Compared to closed computer games, designing for open-ended play results in new challenges for designers. How can we design those intelligent play environments as such the design is open to interpret and still provides enough structure to support a large variety of different settings of play? For this we need to gain insight in how system properties, interaction properties and development of play influence each other. 

This is research project aim on creating insights by use of research through design approach. This implies creating actual working prototypes, and evaluates those prototypes in context with users. For this research project we created GlowSteps as interactive play environment. GlowStep interactions provide a bases, or structure, for users to use in play. GlowSteps are interactive tiles that can emit light, and make sound. Sensors can measure if users touch the steps. The steps can be programmed with different interactions. Evaluations with GlowSteps resulted in exemplary and situational insight on how systems for play and the development of play are related. 

The background of this research project originates from the combination of two different research directions in the UCE research group, the research on designing for open-ended play, and the development of interactive decentralized systems.  Decentralized systems, which we know from swarm intelligence and harvesting behavior of ants, were expected to have specific qualities that were useful in play. In the I-PE project this link is used as starting point. All GlowSteps are separated decentralized elements that together from the basis for interactions for play. The use of a decentralized system approach proved to create opportunities to design for play.


TU Delft, Driessens & Verstappen, Almende 


 Creative Industries Scientific Program (CRISP)

Related Publications

Rijnbout P., de Valk L., de Graaf M., Bekker T., Schouten B., and Eggen, B., 2011,i-PE:

A Decentralized Approach for Designing Adaptive and Persuasive Intelligent Play Environments’. In proceedings of the first workshop on Ambient Gaming (AmGam’11), Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 

Valk, L. de, Rijnbout, P., Bekker, T., Eggen, B., Graaf, M. de, Schouten, B.:’Designing for playful experiences in open-ended intelligent play environments’. In: IADIS International Conference Games and Entertainment Technologies, pp. 3-10 (2012) 

P. Rijnbout, L. De Valk, A. Vermeeren, T. Bekker, M. De Graaf, B. Schouten, B. Eggen, ‘About Experience and Emergence - A Framework for Decentralized Interactive Play Environments’, in proceeding of: Intetain - 5th International Conference on Intelligent Technologies for Interactive Entertainment. (INTETAIN 2013), 

L. De Valk, P. Rijnbout, M. De Graaf, T. Bekker, B. Schouten, B. Eggen, ‘Glowsteps - A decentralized interactive play environment for open-ended play’, in: Lect. Notes Comput. Sci. (Including Subser. Lect. Notes Artif. Intell. Lect. Notes Bioinformatics), 2013: pp. 528–531. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-03161-3_45. 

R. Tieben, L. de Valk, P. Rijnbout, T. Bekker, and B. Schouten. 2014. ‘Shake up the schoolyard: iterative design research for public playful installations’. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Interaction design and children (IDC '14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 175-183. ( 

P. Rijnbout, M. de Graaf and B. Schouten, "The richness of open-ended play: Rules, feedback and adaptation mechanisms in intelligent play environments," Intelligent Technologies for Interactive Entertainment (INTETAIN), 2015 7th International Conference on, Turin, 2015, pp. 125-133. (

T. Bekker, L. de Valk, P. Rijnbout, M. de Graaf, B. Schouten, B. Eggen, ‘Investigating Perspectives on Play: The Lenses of Play Tool’, 2015, CHI PLAY '15 Proceedings of the 2015 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play, Pages 469-474. 

P. Rijnbout, M. de Graaf, T. Bekker, B. Schouten, ‘The introduction of IMO, an integrated model for designing for open-ended play’, Entertainment Computing, Volume 16, July 2016, Pages 29-39, ISSN 1875-9521,