About the project

EPIC-WE: Empowered Participation through Ideating Cultural Worlds and Environments!

Not just a project

EPIC-WE is not just a project; it’s a journey of empowerment for young minds to actively shape European culture and their own futures. Funded by Horizon Europe, our three-year initiative is dedicated to fostering participation through the exciting arena of game-making.  By embracing the concepts of “game as culture, through culture, and for culture,” we affirm that games are not just entertainment but a crucial part of our identity which possess the potential to engage new voices in shaping European values and culture.

Our mission

Our mission is clear: we aim to explore and pioneer new models for cultural collaboration, empowered participation, and the creation of cultural processes and design kits specifically tailored for games. Our vision goes beyond mere exploration; we strive to collaborate in promoting vibrant cultural hubs across Europe: cultural game jams will be held in Aarhus (DK), Hilversum (NL), and Óbidos (PT). These events will bring together diverse groups of young individuals, higher education institutions, creative industries, and cultural institutions. Together, they will dive into the creation of games, placing European cultural heritage at the heart of their designs.

EPIC-WE serves as a catalyst, providing a replicable framework for collaboration between institutions and young minds. Join us on this exciting journey where imagination meets innovation, and together, we shape the cultural landscapes of tomorrow.

EPIC-WE Core concepts

Quadruple helix cultural innovation

Cultural hubs

Cultural game jams & design kits

Game-making as culture-making

Games through & for culture

EPIC-WE Ambitions

Explore the potential of games and game-making practices to empower youth and contribute to the strengthening of European values and cultural participation. 

Develop and validate a framework for cultural game jams in quadruple helix ecosystems. 

Produce accessible resources that enable organizations to replicate the quadruple helix game-making ecosystem across Europe.  

Empower cultural creative citizens 
Youth as culture-makers & game-makers.

Equip quadruple helix actors with knowledge, skills and policy instruments to exploit the  potentials of game-making with youth for the benefit of European society. 

Co-create culture & games 
Cultural hubs with equal partners in research and innovation.

Innovate cultural game jams 
New formats for game-making, culture-making and research-making.

Deliver cultural hubs 
A new cultural innovation model and ecosystem with CCIs & CHIs.

EPIC-WE Main Outcomes


Aarhus, DK

The Aarhus Hub is a dynamic collaboration at the forefront of the EPIC-WE project, uniting key partners: Aarhus University (AU) as a higher education research leader, Filmby Aarhus representing the creative industries, and ARoS as a cultural-historical partner. AU, taking the lead, actively contributes to the project by shaping the game jam process, designing kits, and formulating research protocols and data collection procedures. AU’s central role extends to shaping game formats and overseeing the critical aspect of data collection. It’s worth highlighting that the collaborative allocation of responsibilities predominantly occurs through a joint effort between ARoS and Filmby Aarhus. This harmonious collaboration ensures a continuous, close communication channel with AU, guaranteeing alignment with the dynamic developments in the EPIC-WE project. Site expertise at the Aarhus Hub is characterized by a profound understanding of value-sensitive design, cultural sensitivity, and societal belonging. These strengths position the hub as a crucial player in fostering cultural collaboration and empowered participation in the EPIC-WE initiative. The Aarhus Hub’s commitment to these principles ensures that the outcomes of the project resonate with the diverse and dynamic cultural landscape it aims to impact.

Hilversum, NL

The Hilversum Hub, a dynamic collaboration in the Netherlands, unites key partners: Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) as a higher education research entity, Dropstuff representing the creative industries, and the Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision (NISV) as a cultural-historical partner, bringing together expertise in value-sensitive design, cultural sensitivity, and societal belonging. With NISV taking the lead, the hub actively contributes to the EPIC-WE project by formulating research protocols and participating in data collection. At the core of the Hilversum Hub’s strategic focus is the development of Game Jams in the Netherlands, emphasizing thematic issues linked to current societal problems, including the impact of colonial legacies and online anti-democratic threats. Tailoring their collaborative approach to the target audience of young people aged 16 to 24, the hub seeks to stimulate collective thinking about pertinent issues while maintaining a non-imposing stance on EPIC-WE events. Recognizing the diverse needs within the 16-24 age group, the hub adopts an inclusive strategy, promoting multi-generational collaboration. Through the formation of groups with varied and complementary skills, the Hilversum Hub creates a dynamic and engaging space, encouraging participants to explore and address contemporary challenges collaboratively.

Óbidos, PT

The Óbidos Hub, a collaborative initiative in Portugal, is a nexus of expertise and collaboration, uniting key stakeholders: Lusófona University (UL) as a higher education research partner, BATTLESHEEP (BS) representing the creative industries, and the Municipality of Óbidos (CMO) as a cultural-historical partner. At the helm, UL plays a central role, providing a Hub Lead and actively shaping the game jam process, design kits, and research protocols. Their instrumental involvement extends to overseeing data collection and influencing game formats. The seamless division of responsibilities, orchestrated collaboratively between CMO and BS, ensures a cohesive effort. This collaborative approach not only maintains a continuous communication channel with UL but also guarantees alignment with the dynamic developments in the EPIC-WE project. Leveraging their site expertise in participatory design, engaged participation, and cultural creativity, the Óbidos Hub specializes in Children, Youth, and Media (CYM) creation, emphasizing self-expression and participation. Proficient in game design and development, including serious, educational, and research-based games, the hub excels in organizing game jams. Moreover, in alignment with its game jam focus and youth-centric background, the Óbidos Hub actively addresses European Union values of equality and democracy. This commitment translates into the promotion of plural voices, fostering diverse and inclusive participation representation, and contributing to a rich cultural landscape.

EPIC-WE Coordinating Institution

AARHUS UNIVERSITY (AU) is a public university founded and located in Aarhus, Denmark in 1928.  The Danish School of Education has extensive experience in the fields of Design-Based Research & Design research. AU team holds a strong record and extensive experience in leading international and interdisciplinary funded research projects. Its research team consists of experts in educational design, game jams, co-creation and participatory design and design-based research.

Rikke Toft Nørgård, EPIC-WE Coordinator & Research Leader.

Rikke has a Ph.D. in game design from Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University and is currently associate professor in educational design and technology at Aarhus University, Danish School of Education. She is also steering group member of Center for Higher Education Futures (CHEF), Aarhus University, elected board member of the national Danish Network for Educational Development in Higher Education, Editor-in-Chief for Danish Journal of Higher Education.

EPIC-WE Consortium

LUSÓFONA UNIVERSITY (UL), with 15 Faculties and Schools, was established in 1998 and its core mission is to contribute, through its teaching and research activities, to the scientific, cultural, economic, and social development of Portugal and of all countries where the Portuguese language is spoken, while not neglecting its european dimension. Lusófona University has a focus on research and innovation, with experience in international and national funded research projects.

The Centre for Research in Applied Communication, Culture, and New Technologies (CICANT) results from the combined efforts of Lusófona University (Lisbon and Porto) researchers. CICANT is geared towards innovative and interdisciplinary research in its two main subject areas: Media, Society and Literacies (MSL) and Media Arts, Creative Industries and Technologies (MACIT). The centre integrates 4 Labs (MovLab – Interactions and Interfaces Technologies Laboratory; Early Visual Media Lab; MELCi Lab – Media and Information Literacy & Citizenship Lab and Lisbon Film HUB).

THE NETHERLANDS INSTITUTE FOR SOUND & VISION (NISV) has extensive expertise in public programming for youth, especially in relation to improving creative and media literacy skills via creative education (WP4). Vocal advocate for strengthening value chains and innovation activities between CHIs and CIs (relevant for WP5-WP6) through artistic residencies, events for students and artists on possibilities for digital heritage reuse in artistic practices, and research that highlight the impact of creative reuse.

FILMBY AARHUS (AAKS) provides a collaborative space for creative enterprises, fostering innovation and synergy within the realms of film, gaming, and media production. Positioned as the cornerstone of Aarhus Municipality’s investment in the film and media sector, Filmby Aarhus serves as the epicenter for the film, television, and games industry in Jutland.

AMSTERDAM UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES (AUAS) team specialises in the developing, applying and testing of visual, digital and participatory methods for social and cultural issues. Their transdisciplinary approach, combining social research, visual design, scenography and storytelling will benefit WP4. AUAS is lead partner of the Centre of Expertise for Creative Innovation (CoECI), a collaboration between four Amsterdam-based higher education institutions focusing on culture and creative industries. Here AUAS has become active member of the New European Bauhaus (NEB) initiative

DROPSTUFF MEDIA (DM) specializes in creating interactive public experiences that focus on increasing citizen engagement with arts and culture and facilitating moments of cultural exchange. Bring this experience to WP4, DM will work with youth in game-making interventions on games that are rich with stories of cultural heritage, the imagination of the arts and the wonderment of new technologies.

OBIDOS MUNICIPAL COUNCIL (CMO) offers a unique space for game development in a site-specific context (game environments as spaces for cultural appreciation and creation) with cultural participation, and social interaction.

BATTLESHEEP (BS) is an independent game development studio based in Lisbon, Portugal, focused on both independent and work-for-hire projects. With vast experience in the field, it will be responsible for the game production activities in the Óbidos Hub.

MEET DIGITAL COMMUNICATION (MEET) team is a strong advocate of innovation as a cultural matter, before a technology matter. Specialises in disseminating digital culture to foster economic growth while increasing opportunity and well-being for the benefit of all citizens. Benefiting WP5, MEET will build upon its research excellence. Experience in cultural innovation, transnational projects, arts/science/technology cross-fertilization processes, participatory interdisciplinary art approaches and organization of immersive demonstration/events.

CREATIVE BUSINESS NETWORK (CBN) empowers start-ups in CIs by connecting them to investors and global markets and strengthening their innovative capabilities to the benefit of industry and society (relevant to WP6). As a platform to pitch ideas, engage with industry leaders, exchange knowledge and share visions on a global stage, CBN brings an exceptionally wide network of CI practitioners to the project and will secure constant dialogue with them to ensure sustainability and exploitation in WP7.

AROS AARHUS KUNSTMUSEUM (AROS) is a museum that explores the future participatory paths for cultural heritage organisations. AROS team has extensive experience in engaging young people in cultural heritage through activities at the museum (relevant for WP4).

KEA EUROPEAN AFFAIRS (KEA) team specialises in public policy design and evaluation, policy advocacy, as well as advisory services to the European institutions in CIs and has a proven track record in managing communication and dissemination activities for large-scale EU research projects, playing a relevant role in WP6 and WP7.
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