Want to Come Play in the Lab?

Reserve a Spot

What is this PlayLab?

The PlayLab is both an active research project and space as well as an idea to work towards a permanent experimental PlayLab at Leiden University, where researchers can study all sorts of play and citizens can come in to play and to learn. At the moment the actual and temporary space consists of two rooms at Leiden’s Lipsius Building.

This room is currently set up to play a specific ancient board game for two players. We are studying how this game is played today and would like to know what you think about who, why, and how this game could have been played in the past.

Click on the +’s in interactive image below to find out more!

You’ll be playing an ancient boardgame. Which one? We won’t tell yet, it’s part of the experiment!
You can come by yourself or, better yet, bring a friend!
One of our PlayLab staff will be present to help and watch you play
We will record the conversations you have during the game
An overhead camera will capture the game board and pieces
All the data of the game is recorded on an encrypted computer, so your personal data will be safe. In addition, this computer helps us keep track of the position of the boardgame pieces, using AI-powered Computer Vision

Who can participate?

For this current experiment, almost everyone who can play can join! The only two requirements are (1) that you’re able to speak Dutch or English and (2) able to read and use a tablet or write. This is so you will be able to participate in our survey.

You can join by yourself, in which case your play partner may either be your PlayLab host or another visiting player. You can also bring a friend.

The game itself is relatively simple and will be explained by your PlayLab host.

We have not yet hosted people with disabilities and have not tested if the current experimental setup is suitable for people with specific disabilities. If you would like to visit the lab, but have questions about this beforehand, please contact us.

Our experiments are certainly suitable for kids, but, if you are a minor who would like to join, you need to be accompanied by your legal guardian or, alternatively, you need to have their written permission to join.

Where is the PlayLab?

We have two locations in Leiden: a small lab in Leiden University’s Lipsius building, and a studio and lab in the nearby P.J. Veth building.

When arriving at the location described in the reminder email, please enter through the main entrance and wait there. Your PlayLab host will come and pick you up at the appointed time!

Leiden Central Station is about 10 mins. on foot.

The nearest (7 mins. on foot) affordable parking spot is the P+R Transferium Leiden at Haagweg 8.

There is bicylce parking in front of the Lipsius.

Other things I should know?

Our PlayLab host will not only assist you in your playsession, but will also be making observations. In addition, we will be recording your play session, which include video and audio recordings. This is done to be able to analyze later what actually happened during the game. This we use to cross-reference with the information you will provide in the survey.

In the Lab we will ask you to confirm that you understand that, following General Data Protection Regulations (EU-GDPR), we will record and process some personal informational as part of this experiment. If you have any questions about this beforehand, please contact us directly.

Is this actually safe/allowed under current Coronavirus conditions?

Yes, the Lab is a research space and is therefore allowed to continue operating under the strict and up-to-date Corona guidelines of Leiden University, which follows all relevant national guidelines and regulations.

We can unfortunately never 100% guarantee your safety from coronavirus infection. If we knew how, we’d certainly share this knowledge with the rest of the world! However, we have taken every pre-caution to make sure the visit to the lab is as safe as possible. Find our full health and safety protocol here.

Will I actually have fun?

Yes! We have played this game you will be playing a lot of times already and can promise you it is not only very old but also very fun, whether you are an experienced boardgamer or not!

Will I actually learn something here?

Yes! At some point during the lab session we will tell you all about this game in a presentation prepared by our archaeology of play researcher, Aris Politopoulos.

In addition, if you have any further questions our PlayLab hosts, students trained in archaeology and game studies, will be happy to answer any questions. If you ask anything they are not able to answer on the spot, your questions will be forwarded to our game studies and archaeological specialists. You will receive an e-mail with your answer.

Sounds Great! When can I come?


The best and easiest way to come play with us is to visit us at one of our Pop-Up locations!

We currently do not do group bookings (e.g. for school classes), due to corona regulations, but if you represent such a group, contact us and we can see if it is possible to arrange a group session.


You can email us at info@pastatplay.com if you have any questions!


Come find us at one of our Pop-Up Locations!

Unfortunately, our lab is now closed.

We’ve had a great time playing with all of you, and if you missed the opportunity to visit our lab, we want to continue encouraging everyone to keep searching for our playful opportunities during Leiden City of Science!

The Past-at-Play Lab becomes Leiden Ludens in 2022!

See you then!



We haven’t left!


Come Play with us as Leiden Ludens!

Join Leiden Ludens as we host events that bring Leiden, history, and play together!