My name is Robert-Jan den Haan and I am an assistant professor in the Human Centered Design group (HCD) focusing on supporting multi-stakeholder complex decision-making processes with serious/simulation games to support discussion, collaboration, and deliberation around complex societal challenges. I focus on the design, use and evaluation of such games as boundary objects that all stakeholders can relate to and that offers a sense of safety to explore and experiment together. with a particular focus on designing interaction methods that, rooted in tangible interaction, beneficially combine physical and digital elements, for example to make computational models interactive, accessible and transparent to a wide range of stakeholders.

With a background in Industrial Design Engineering, I approach the design of such games by first focusing on the decision-making question at hand: the (environmental) system that it concerns, the stakeholders that are/should be at the table, and their interests and perspectives. Following an iterative design process that characterizes human centered design, I engage stakeholders with game prototypes from lower to higher fidelity to evaluate the design and ensure that it meets their needs. I subsequently evaluate the resulting games on to what extent it effectively enables players to collaboratively explore the challenge’s complexity and experiment with possible solutions. Furthermore, I assess to what extent players learn about the (environmental) system, possible management interventions and trade-offs between interventions as well as about how other players view both the problem at hand and its solution.

In my doctoral research, I developed the Virtual River Game, a serious game where stakeholders can collaboratively test and evaluate management strategies in Dutch river management, as part of the RiverCare program (NWO Perspectief). The research shaped his interest in designing interaction methods to enable stakeholders, regardless of their background, to work directly with computational models that otherwise typically stay in the ivory tower of experts. In the Virtual River Game for example, a hydrodynamic models (water flow) that is used in environmental decision-making is incorporated and players engage with it by applying management interventions by changing game pieces on the game’s board that represents a typical stretch of a Dutch river. Model output is subsequently projected on the game board, visualizing the effects on the locations where players made changes. I currently explore new interaction design methods that equally combine physical and digital elements in the SaltiSolutions program (NWO Perspectief) on salt intrusion in deltas. 

In addition, I am also a cycling trainer at the university's Sports Center, training and coaching a group of competitive road cyclists from the university's cycling association.


  • Computer Science

    • Stakeholders
    • Transdisciplinary
    • Serious Game
    • Models
    • Design
    • Complexity
    • Roles
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences

    • Game



Using an idealized network model as the physical module for a salt intrusion serious gameIn NCR Days 2024: Tomorrow's Rivers, Article 1 (pp. 58-59). NCR. den Haan, R.-J., Biemond, B. & Baart, F.
On Simulating Shocks and Stresses in Climate Change Games: A Review of Game Design StrategiesIn Simulation and Gaming for Social and Environmental Transitions: 54th Conference of the International Simulation and Gaming Association (pp. 568-571). La Rochelle University. den Haan, R.-J.Harnessing the potential of simulation and speculative games for transdisciplinary collaboration: lessons from experienceIn Simulation and Gaming for Social and Environmental Transitions: 54th Conference of the International Simulation and Gaming Association (pp. 602-605). La Rochelle University. Matos Castano, J., Morás Jiménez, E., Baibarac-Duignan, C., Geenen, A. J. P. & den Haan, R.-J.Drivers and barriers to knowledge exchange through an envisioned online platform for transdisciplinary research projectsEnvironmental science & policy, 147, 201-214. Cortes arevalo, V. J., den Haan, R.-J., Berends, K. D., Baart, F., van der voort, M. & Hulscher, S. J. M. H. Not Believe the Hype: Critically discussing the role and pedagogical implication of generative AI in Human-Centred and Transdisciplinary Design EducationIn The 7th International Conference for Design Education Researchers (Accepted/In press). Toso, F., Zaga, C., den Haan, R.-J. & Aizenberg, E.
Knowledge co-production and researcher roles in transdisciplinary environmental management projectsSustainable development, 30(2), 393-405. Vinke - de Kruijf, J., Verbrugge, L. N. H., Schröter , B., den Haan, R.-J., Cortes Arevalo, V. J., Fliervoet, J. M., Henze, J. & Albert, C.

Research profiles

Current projects

Salti Solutions

Salt intrusion through urbanising deltas: Solutions

Scaffolding Transdisciplinary Learning in Responsible Challenge-based Education

Finished projects


University of Twente

Horst Complex (building no. 20), room W235
De Horst 2
7522 LW Enschede

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