Michael Straeubig



Germany / UK

Institutional affiliation

Plymouth University


Independent Researcher

Research interests relevant to game philosophy

I am researching and developing a systems-theoretic approach to play. I argue that a theory capable of describing a multi-faceted phenomenon like play must be sufficiently abstract, complex, and universal. These qualities can be found in general systems theories. Therefore I apply a distinction-based approach to play, building on constructivist and second-order cybernetic foundations – Spencer-Brown’s calculus of distinctions, Maturana and Varela’s autopoiesis and in particular Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social systems.

Publications and presentations relevant to game philosophy

Andreas Rauscher, Judith Ackermann, Phillip Ehmann, Marianne Halblaub Miranda, Christiane Hütter, Gwyn Morphey and Michael Straeubig (2016) ‘Game Design for Urban Spaces’, PLAYIN THE CITY. Artistic and Scientific Approaches to Playful Urban Arts. Edited by A. Rauscher, Judith Ackermann, and D. Stein. (Navigationen – Zeitschrift für Medien und Kulturwissenschaften), 16(1), pp. 137–158. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.1.1606.8727.
Straeubig, M. (2008) ‘Minimal spielbare Spiele als Denkanstoß und als Methode’, in Casasola Merkle, M., Conrad, C., Friese, F., Meyer, A., Poehl, H., and Wetter, A. (eds) Spiele Entwickeln 2008. Berlin: Pro Business Verlag.
Straeubig, M. (2012) ‘Vom Turm in den Tümpel. Eine Annäherung an die autopoietische Maschine.’ Hyperkult, Leuphana University Lüneburg, 14 August.
Straeubig, M. (2014) ‘Avant-Garde Videogames: Playing with Technoculture’, Leonardo Reviews, 29 August. Available at: http://leonardo.info/reviews/sep2014/technoculture.php (Accessed: 11 May 2015).
Straeubig, M. (2015) ‘Can Machines Play?’ Cognitive Futures in the Humanities, Oxford, 14 April.
Straeubig, M. (2015) ‘Can Machines Play?’ Digital Art and Technology Visiting Speakers, Plymouth, 19 January.
Straeubig, M. (2015) ‘On the distinction between distinction and division’, Technoetic Arts, 13(3), pp. 245–251. doi: 10.1386/tear.13.3.245_1.
Straeubig, M. (2016) ‘Do Playful Systems Know That They Play?’ Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, Valetta, Malta, 2 November.
Straeubig, M. (2016) ‘Playing with distinctions’. Researching Games, Berlin, 23 April. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4057.4322.
Straeubig, M. (2016) ‘Playing with distinctions. Towards a Theory of Playful Systems’, in Proceedings for the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG. DiGRA FDG 2016 Conference / Doctoral Consortium, Dundee. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4057.4322.
Straeubig, M. (2016) ‘Towards Play Design for Machines’. International Symposium on Electronic Art, Hong Kong, 20 May. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2014.5528.
Straeubig, M., Hsu, C.-W., Oztop, P. and Taranu, M. (2016) ‘(How) Does Play Matter? A Transdisciplinary Approach to Play and its Relation to Neurobiology, Creativity and Deception.’, in Punt, M., Denham, S., and Doove, E. (eds). Off the Lip Conference – Transdisciplinary Approaches to Cognitive Innovation, Plymouth, pp. 215–231. Available at: http://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/4271 (Accessed: 21 February 2016).
Straeubig, M. and Quack, S. (2016) ‘Playful Locative Ensembles in the Urban Soundscape’, PLAYIN THE CITY. Artistic and Scientific Approaches to Playful Urban Arts. Edited by J. Ackermann, A. Rauscher, and D. Stein. (Navigationen – Zeitschrift für Medien und Kulturwissenschaften), 16(1), pp. 85–100.
Wetzel, R., Blum, L., Feng, F., Oppermann, L. and Straeubig, M. (2011) ‘Tidy City: A Location-based Game for City Exploration Based on User-created Content’, in Proceedings of Mensch & Computer. Available at: http://www.oldenbourg-link.com/doi/pdf/10.1524/9783486712742.487 (Accessed: 16 July 2012).


play, systems theory


Michael Straeubig


Play/Game Design, Computer Science