Willem-Jan Renger

Willem-Jan Renger is head of the HKU Innovation Lab and a pioneer in the field of Ludodidactics. His work focuses on the possibilities of behavioral change through learning processes. Not the kind of learning processes that someone goes through by means of a textbook, but based on design principles and methods used in gamedesign. He specializes in the application of gaming principles outside the domain of entertainment, such as in education and healthcare. The pioneering work on ludodidactics has garnered him and his colleague at the HKU, Evert Hoogendoorn, international acclaim, leading to invitations from all over the world to introduce this innovative approach towards education. In 2013 he presented the principles of ludodidactics to a broader audience in the renowned Tedx Talks series (‘Games as design language for teaching and learning’, 2013).

“I believe that design and creativity are enablers to deal with the wicked problems of our time, crossing the borders of disciplines and domains; that change should not rely on new technologies alone but shift its focus to address human behaviour including ecology as a key stakeholder. My mission is to contribute to a more inclusive, sustainable and meaningful society.”

For the MIX-project, Willem-Jan Renger was also interviewed about his personal experiences, motivation and inspiration that have been propelling his innovative work in the field of education. He is one of the contributing experts on ludodidactics for the mix platform. Next to his substantive contributions to this platform, shares some of his personal thoughts on the subject and tells about some personal experiences. During the interview revisits some of the topics covered on this platform and touches upon some details and context that make this video one to watch.


00:00 – how it all started
01:49 – what’s your drive?
03:10 – generational differences
04:30 – incremental mastery
05:09 – gaming principles in music education
05:44 – (received) feedback when training teachers
07:51 – tip #1: keeping it simple
08:20 – tip #2: borrow from existing games
09:41 – tip #3: learn from young people
10:14 – tip #4: it’s not all about fun
11:29 – international context

12:49 – final thoughts

Editorial note: because of restrictions and health safety measures during the coronapandemic this interview was conducted via videoconference (5th of July 2021).

Please, also check out the interviews with contributing experts Evert Hoogendoorn and Thijs Spook.


More information

Willem-Jan Renger is a design researcher and innovator connected to the Center for Research & Innovation and the School of Creative Transformation. His work consists of initiating and contributing to research and innovation projects in the contexts of Health, Sustainability and Education. Willem-Jan is also coach and senior lecturer in the Master Crossover Creativity. Willem-Jan Renger is the founder of ‘Ludodidactics’ (Dutch: ‘ludodidactiek’), a design methodology for educational professionals to learn how to apply playful learning in order to raise motivation and learner participation. Ludodidactics is taught in the School of Creative Transformation (Master of Education in Arts), and in the HKU Summerschool, in workshops and seminars.

He is a frequent lectures and workshops on the art of innovation as well as playful learning. He acts as a consultant to help shape and execute complex innovation projects to explore and reframe wicked problems and challenges and develop them into innovation projects involving both the wider HKU community and his extensive network. This includes several EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation projects (IRIS, SOCIOBEE).