Advancing Wellbeing Seminar Series: Sebastian Deterding

November 24, 2015


MIT Media Lab, E14-633


“You cannot not communicate,” Paul Watzlawick once famously said. Similarly, whatever designers put in the world influences others, for good or ill. As “software is eating” the world, technology companies have become increasingly aware of their impact and ethical responsibility, and begun to design digital products and services not just to serve instrumental needs, but to further the wellbeing of users. However, few of these initiatives engage in or foster any deliberation over what kind of wellbeing we should be striving for and why, instead of retaining a focus on reproducing a secular vision of ever-fitter, happier, and therefore more productive individuals. In this talk, Sebastian Deterding argues that our secular religion of productivity is at the root of today’s health and wellbeing crisis, and asks: What might a true technology of wellbeing look like?


Dr. Sebastian Deterding is a researcher and designer working on facilitating human flourishing with playful, gameful, and engaging design. He is an assistant professor in Northeastern University’s Game Design Program, associate of the international design agency Hubbub, founder and organizer of the Gamification Research Network, and editor (with Steffen P. Walz) of The Gameful World: Approaches, Issues, Applications (MIT Press, 2015). As a game and user experience designer, he has created engaging experiences touching millions of people for clients including the BBC, BMW, Deutsche Telekom, Greenpeace, Novartis, and numerous startups. His work has been covered by The Guardian, New Scientist, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. An internationally sought-after speaker, he is frequently invited to keynote and present at venues like GDC Online, Google, Games Learning Society, IDEO, Interaction, Lift, Playful, UX London, or Web Directions. He lives online at codingconduct.cc.

Host/Chair: Agnis Stibe

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