Collaborative immersive
experiences that bring young people together.


Augmented Social Play is a new kind of experience for young people, supporting their social wellbeing and sense of belonging. Our smartphone-facilitated, face-to-face collaborative experiences combine immersive storytelling, contemporary technology and evidence-based psychology. We are developing this pioneering new format for use in schools and other settings to boost young people’s mental health by fostering a greater sense of belonging and connectedness.

We established the feasibility of Augmented Social Play through our award-winning prototype LINA (2022). Now, in a Horizon Europe-funded work programme (2023-2027) we are developing unalone (working title), our first full Augmented Social Play experience for early adolescents, for widescale adoption in schools around the world. The work involves 11 partner organisations across 6 countries ranging from universities to tech to arts organisations. Meanwhile we are exploring further uses of Augmented Social Play, and advocating for the importance of social wellbeing and sense of belonging in schools.

Interested in our work? We’d love to hear from you.



LINA won Best New Game In Development at the International Educational Games Competition 2022.

Our proof-of-concept for Augmented Social Play, LINA, is an augmented reality smartphone experience played by an entire class (aged 10-13) with their teacher. It was developed as part of D.O.T., a four-year international, interdisciplinary project that investigated how arts-informed digital interventions might strengthen adolescents’ social connections.

In LINA, players are members of a fictional class, from which Lina has suddenly and mysteriously vanished. Gameplay involves solving the mystery of where Lina has gone, and why. Players use augmented reality to explore their classroom, discovering clues to the mystery in the form of artefacts left behind by Lina. Players are steered together by the game for in-person collaboration, information exchange and puzzle-solving, as they unlock the story of a classmate, affected by mental ill-health, that no-one truly saw.

LINA was developed through interdisciplinary collaboration involving a playwright, software developers, psychologists and artists, via consultation with both adolescent and adult experts. Proof-of-concept testing with 10-13 year olds demonstrated high acceptability and feasibility, and positive effect on class climate.

LINA will form the starting point for unalone (working title), our first Augmented Social Play experience. Evolution of psychotherapeutic components, flawless technical flow and a significantly longer and more thorough experience will elevate this work from a single-session prototype to a fully developed, multi-session intervention that engages classes in sustained, compelling activities that increase belonging and boost mental health – all without external facilitation.

“It made me feel more confident talking to different people in the classroom that I wouldn’t usually talk to”

“I feel like [the class] just connected with each other again”

“I think it has strengthened the class community”

Horizon Europe Project

Our four-year, Horizon Europe-funded project (2023-2027) will develop unalone (working title), the first full-scale Augmented Social Play intervention, to the point of readiness for widescale deployment in schools globally. It will be implemented on the basis of a six-nation policy review and stakeholder consultation, and rigorously evaluated across the 2025-2026 school year in Czechia, Portugal and the UK to provide the evidence policy makers and practitioners need for wide-scale adoption.

Meanwhile, we will further evolve the technology through extended collaboration with  adolescents facing diverse challenges to ensure Augmented Social Play can meet the widest spectrum of needs and threats to mental health and sense of belonging. Our long-term goal is the wide-scale adoption of ASP, making multiple smartphone-delivered group interventions accessible in a diverse range of populations and setting.

Our project spans multiple academic disciplines and both technology and creative industries, with an emphatically stakeholder-collaborative approach.


Updates coming soon...


Our team comprises 11 partner organisations across 6 countries, including universities and both technology and creative industries.

Academic Partners

Based in the School of Psychology, Kate Woodcock leads the team here, which includes Tamanna Malhotra, Nyareso Mokaya, and Valeria Motta. The team is responsible for the scientific coordination of the ASP-belong project; work with psychologists to support the therapeutic capacity of unalone; the aspects of the unalone evaluation that will allow us to produce toolkits for implementing unalone in schools across Europe, and advance our theoretical model of ASP-mediated change; and work with adolescents to create new development routes for ASP that support marginalised adolescents. Kate is also working with Claudia Schwarz at Karl Landsteiner University to lead the 6-nation policy review and stakeholder consultation.

Masaryk University acts as an administrative coordinator of the whole consortium and focuses on co-development around UX. It enriches the project with the expertise of teams led by Simone Kriglstein, specializing in interface and interaction design, and Alžběta Šašinková, an educational designer focusing on immersive technology and research psychology practice.

Led by Prof. Giovanni Rubeis, the Division Biomedical and Public Health Ethics, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences, Krems, Austria, researches ethical issues linked to the digital transformation of the healthcare sector. For Augmented Social Play, Wanda Spahl creates an ethical framework for developing and implementing gamified digital mental health interventions. She is a social scientist working on digitalisation, health and migration, with expertise in qualitative methods, ethics and artistic research. Moreover, Dr. Claudia Schwarz works to build a knowledge base around mental health priorities for adolescents and intervention policy and practice in six countries. Claudia is a sociologist of science and technology by training, with additional expertise in ethics, psychotherapy, and activism. Her research currently mainly revolves around the ethics and politics of mental health innovations and scientific fields.

Associate Professor Laura K. Taylor (Helping Kids! Lab, University College DublinSchool of Psychology) is team lead for Work Package 5, which focuses on the dissemination of ASPbelong to relevant stakeholder groups across the United Kingdom, Portugal, Czechia, Ireland, Austria and Norway. Her team, comprising Méabh Finnegan, Isabelle Nic Craith and (previously) Celia Bähr, are responsible for mapping key stakeholders relevant to the project, empirically testing the most effective messages to combat perceived barriers to the implementation of ASP-belong, and assessing and measuring the effects of various dissemination efforts. The UCD team have expertise in social, developmental, health and cultural psychology.

The University of Algarve (UAlg) is the leading higher education institution in southern Portugal, recognised for its research excellence, quality of teaching, and strong connections with society. Founded in 1979, UAlg has been strengthening its educational offerings, research capabilities, and potential for knowledge transfer. João Dias leads the team here, which includes João Santos.

Industry Partners

Adam Barnard and Gloria Mittmann lead the creative direction and experience design for ASP belong. Based in Brighton, UK, Adam Barnard is a theatre director, playwright and experience designer. His plays including buckets and Too Small To Be A Planet have been performed internationally in multiple languages. He previously ran Company of Angels, a British theatre company dedicated to innovative collaboration with young people and pan-European translation projects. He was a founding Co-Investigator of the research group D.O.T., where he developed the initial LINA concept. Based in Vienna, Austria, Gloria Mittmann is a game designer who also holds a PhD in research psychology. Her experience lies in designing serious games especially around mental health and sense of belonging. She was part of the team developing the LINA prototype. Adam and Gloria have previously collaborated on School’s A Nightmare, which won best game at the European Convention on Games-Based Learning 2021; Sam & Alex, created for the XR Brain Jam at Games 4 Change, New York, which won a jury commendation and was exhibited at the Times Center; and the LINA prototype.
Make Real Ltd (UK) is a multi-award-winning serious games studio and immersive technologies (AR, VR) content developer with a proven track record in creating validated, meaningful, and memorable learning experiences. Make Real’s background makes it a sector leader in creating content determined by objectives and outcomes, not driven by technologies. MR’s extensive team of creatives, coders, and designers remain at the forefront of how technology can meet audience and user needs. Make Real has been developing mobile AR applications for a decade, with substantial content designed specifically to support resilience and mental health. For ASP Belong, Make Real’s team lead by Sophie Costin (Director of Learning), Matt Garland (Senior Designer), Stuart Findlater (Senior Developer) and Steve Wyatt (Senior Project Manager) will be acting as the application development partner. They bring to the project their expertise in AR application design and development, as well as production and project management, to fully support all technical demands for the project.
At the Unicorn we create new, inventive and enthralling theatre experiences for children aged up to 13. Every year, we welcome around 65,000 families and schools through our doors, and many thousands more through Unicorn Online. We actively seek out children who wouldn’t otherwise attend, offering free tickets where needed. Our work is developed with children to ensure that we remain relevant and the work is informed by the young people we serve. It is this expertise in collaboration with young people that we bring to the creative development of ASP-Belong, ensuring the game is developed with and influenced by its intended audience. We collaborate with a group of young people in the UK and through international exchanges with the Czech Republic and Portugal. This work is delivered by Georgia Dale (Director of Engagement) and Ross Wylie (Creative Engagement Producer) with a team of expert facilitators including Tatenda Naomi Matsvai and Ibrahim Farouk Sesay.

ATV is a non-profit public utility association, founded in 1995, in Portugal (Torres Vedras). It currently has around 400 members and it is considered a reference in strengthening participatory citizenship. The main motto of ATV is to contribute, together with the whole community, to the preservation of the interest for social, cultural, sports, scientific, environmental, leisure and youth activities. ATV has produced extensive research in the field of educational psychology since 2011, through the Positive Attitude team. Vítor Alexandre Coelho leads the team here, which includes Marta Marchante, Patrícia Brás and Patrícia Ribeiro Silva.

Scientific Coordinator – Dr Kate Woodcock, University of Birmingham

Non-Academic Lead – Adam Barnard

Horizon Administrative Coordinator – Mgr. Alžběta Šašinková, Ph.D., Masaryk University

Full partner information coming soon.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

This work is co-funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee [grant numbers 10076369, 10077956, 10079657, 10083622, tbc].

This work is co-funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee [grant numbers 10076369, 10077956, 10079657, 10083622, tbc].