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Marcus Vlaar

Co-founder & direc­tor Ranj

Seri­ous gam­ing is seri­ous business

Mar­cus Vlaar is one of the world’s gam­ing wiz­ards. Any­thing he touches seems to turn to gold. He is a celebrity in his field and has won awards all over the world com­ing from an amaz­ing vari­ety of sec­tors: from the art world to tech­ni­cal project management.

For many peo­ple gam­ing more or less means Mario on Nin­tendo DS. How­ever, seri­ous games pro­vides more than sim­ply enter­tain­ment. Vlaar designs games that meet com­plex learn­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion goals. They are tai­lor made to meet the demands of seri­ous indus­tries. Mar­cus Vlaar is co-founder and direc­tor of Ranj and his mis­sion is to help peo­ple learn more eas­ily, bet­ter and with much more fun. The area of seri­ous games is where cre­ativ­ity, sci­en­tific research and domain exper­tise meet. For a seri­ous game designer it is not enough to be cre­ative. He needs in depth knowl­edge psy­chol­ogy and didac­tics, ánd of the sub­ject of the game, whether it is project man­age­ment, lead­er­ship devel­op­ment, math­e­mat­ics or con­trol of virus pan­demic. That strive to be a uomo uni­ver­sale is exactly what attracts Vlaar and his companions.

How does any­one become a pro­ducer of seri­ous games? You start early on and just keep at it! In 1987, when peo­ple were start­ing to explore the pos­si­bil­i­ties of com­put­ers, Vlaar and a cou­ple of friends designed their first ani­ma­tion series for VPRO tele­vi­sion on an Amiga 2000 com­puter. This series resulted in a large box with over 600 floppy disks, each con­tain­ing a few sec­onds of ani­ma­tion. With new tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ments and the arrival of the Inter­net, the first inter­ac­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties were explored. Vlaar and the Hootchie Cootchie com­pany that he had founded with two friends were devel­op­ing in per­fect syn­chronity with the fastly chang­ing world. Today Vlaar and his view on the world is more in demand than ever before. This year he is invited as a keynote speaker on seri­ous gam­ing and the future of inter­ac­tive media for a num­ber of con­fer­ences among which the Shang­hai World Expo 2010 and the Euro­vi­sion Broad­cast­ing Union Sum­mit 2010. Vlaar stud­ied Image and Media Tech­nol­ogy at the Utrecht School of Fine Arts and Willem de Koon­ing Acad­emy Rot­ter­dam. In 1999 he became the co-founder and cre­ative direc­tor of Ranj Seri­ous Games.


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