About me

I’m Marion and I love board games. Born sometime in the seventies, as a child I mainly played monopoly and goose board. Later, all kinds of card games were added.

I can still remember rainy holidays when, crammed at the table of a small caravan, we played Canasta endlessly and fanatically.

On this website, I write about games, education and parenting. When I talk to people about Pen & Pion*, they often ask what exactly I do. All sorts of things! On this page, I tell more about that ‘of everything’ I get involved in 😉

*Pen & Pawn

My year in games – 2023 –


👢And then it was the month of Europe’s biggest games fair: Spiel in Essen.

So…. put on good shoes and make miles! There was another special Educators Day with lectures and booths. Talked to someone from Sunny Games about games, education and design. Inspiring! And saw this game (not from Sunny Games):

🧑🏼‍🎤 Interesting lecture by Haba in which the speaker took us through the process of choosing a game for your lesson. How do you get a good game? What requirements does an educational game meet? Is it age-appropriate? His advice: check websites where experts discuss games. And who do I see there (to my surprise) on the list….. My very own website Pen & Pion. So I totally felt like a rockstar!!!


🤧 During October, a bad cold came along that continued into November. I understood that a lot of people around me had it…. It’s autumn and it’s prevalent!

🎬 Occasionally, I spend a morning working with a group of freelancers. Just to avoid sitting at the computer by yourself. And we exchange tips. On one of those mornings, I learned about handy apps that you can use to record videos for Instagram, for example. And now I’m totally hooked! It’s very creative. And at the same time still a lot of research.

This is my first edited video with audio and subtitles:


🧩 Another cool games fair in the autumn: the Spellenspektakel in Utrecht. I went there with Loes who puzzles at competition level. I didn’t even know puzzle competitions existed! A world opened up for me. Had a great afternoon and played a lot.


🧩 At the beginning of the year, I handed out the magazine Learning with Games at the Dutch education fair. Believe it or not: the first person I spoke to was Magda and we immediately clicked: Magda guides children in primary education and makes books and games. Today, we had an appointment to discuss some of her ideas for educational games. Unfortunately, travelling to Antwerp by train did not fit into the agenda at the moment. Old-fashioned via Teams again, hopefully next time it will be live in Antwerp or Utrecht.

🎲 Our first Dobbelix Teens of the new season. We are allowed to use one of the community centres of the municipality of Utrecht. Always searching to find a free spot then. It became Sunday morning! I was curious to see what teenagers thought of that…. But I needn’t have worried. It was pleasantly crowded! Dobbelix Teens is a games club meant for teenagers (from about 12 to about 20) who like games. Also for gifted youths to meet and exchange with peers.

Dobbelix Teens 9 september

🎉 Yay! A new Kickstarter in. My husband always keeps a close eye on kickstarter games. Of this one, he immediately said: this is one for you. Well, he was right about that! In Fit to Print, you create three editions of a newspaper. Articles, photos and advertisements are puzzle pieces that you have to put on your page as conveniently as possible. If you know how much fun I have making the Magazine Learning with Games, then you know how excited I am about this game.

Fit to print - pagina


📚 I always keep a close eye on the online newsletters of game makers and publishers.

In one of those newsletters, I came across Facts.be. A fair in Ghent where you can not only play games, but also admire cosplayers and have meet & greets with actors, writers and illustrators. Cool! Immediately booked, attached a few days, booked the train…. and hup, cool getaway for the autumn holidays.

What I think is really cool is the beautiful Facts website: great texts and beautiful illustrations. Handsome work! (The picture of the screen is not quite nice, but click through and then you can see the site for yourself 😉)

Facts compilatie

✍🏽 Finalising a number of spelling and grammar games for the Dutch method Taaljacht for primary education, published by Zwijsen.

In the method’s manual, you will find two grammar games for each block, two spelling games and two games to repeat the material from the previous block.

The aim is always to have games with easy rules and little material, so that you can easily plan them into your lessons. Nice challenge for me to think about this.


🧹 Bit tidy going into the summer! That’s why I’m getting rid of lots of games. When cleaning up, we came across this classic and immediately played lots of games. Mastermind is another winner for us and we keep it in our cupboard.


♟️ Day trip to Delft, my hometown. Haven’t been there for a very, very long time. What a nice centre! (I really couldn’t remember having been there). With two lovely games shops: Speldorado in het centre and the Spellenwinkel a fifteen/twenty-minute walk from the centre.

At the Games Shop, there is also space to try out a game. There are also Magic tournaments and game nights. I struck up a conversation with the shop’s employee. She had already seen the Learning by Games magazine and wanted an extra stack to hand out. Always great!

As a matter of fact, she immediately called on my help. A client was looking for a game for a boy with a mental disability. She was looking for something with little language, no complex rules and preferably something with a link to computer games (because he loves those). The three of us searched the shop and found some nice games for her.


🎉 🎉 The second magazine Learning with Games is finished! What a party again! Made together with the Games Lab of Vives University College Bruges. Made possible by several game publishers who find education just as important in their games as I do 😁

🚆 To Bruges to toast our beautiful magazine with, among others, Céline and Jef from Vives Spellenlab. But also to explore working together with English and French partners. It was so cool to spend two days working with people who are also so passionate about education and games. We consulted, saw Bruges, played games and ate waffles.


📽️ Prior to the Game Didactics conference, I didn’t quite know what to expect from the workshops. But I am blazingly enthusiastic! Seen so many cool games for history, geography, chemistry. There is an enormous amount on offer. Challenge for me with my fear of heights was the workshop on the 7th floor (went well).

🃏 Still for my birthday: a day Heel Holland Speurt (a Dutch quest) in Deventer with the in-laws. A scavenger hunt that is well put together: on an app, you follow the route (you can get in anywhere on the route) which leads you to puzzle points. You recognise those points by the photos in the app. Once you find the location of the photo, you get a task. This varies from looking up info to solving a puzzle. I’ve been to Deventer before, but now I came across streets in the city centre that I hadn’t seen before anyway. Look at me think 😆


🎒This spring break, we are going to Vienna by train. My husband lived there for a while in his youth. So for him a sentimental journey. For son and me handy that we have a guide to this city.

On holidays, we always try to visit a board game cafe. In Vienna, we went to Paradice Board Game Bar. Beforehand, I had looked up which game I wanted to play. But alas: it wasn’t in the cupboard. So it became Paleo, a game about prehistoric times in which you have to work together to survive. We are lousy neanderthals, because we (collectively) lost the game. Over a 20th century beer 😁

🧩 Game from Asmodee in for review. 99% of the games you read about on this site I have played myself. The other 1% I got as a tip from other parents, rt’ers or teachers. I prefer to play the games with a group of children and hear their opinions. They often look at a game in a completely different and surprising way.

🎤 The biggest challenge (I think) for introducing learning with games is proof. Prove then that you learn better/more/deeper with a game. This is hard (I think) to make very hard, because a game works on so much more than just 1 subject. A game also works on skills and knowledge that you may not have had as a goal initially.

But research is definitely being done. At Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and Utrecht University, for example, escape boxes (escaperooms in a box) are being made for secondary schools and research is also being done on their results. EER stands for Educational Escape Rooms.


🛤️ By train to Antwerp to spend an afternoon talking about using games. The group consists of trainers who coach companies and guide people to the labour market. Nice to look at the possibilities of different types of games with this group. And of course preferably games that are already on your shelf!

🎪 When I think I know a lot of games….. Yet at a friends’ house, I discovered another new game: Histrio, where you have to stage actors who have to play both comedy and drama. Always nice when there is something ‘extra’ to a game, like here: the stage with turntable at the top.

📱Initial filming for the Teaching by Gaming project. One of the goals of the project is to make some instructional videos for games. Today I am making recording to discuss as a proposal in the next meeting. Boy, what a lot of work that is! And then to hear your own voice back….


♟️ Trying out Triviovision

with son and two daughters of a friend. Nice to play a game with children of different ages and hear their very different feedback and ideas.

What also strikes me is their perseverance. Where after a few cards I already think: okay, was fun, done. They just keep going until the last card is dealt.

As if by itself, all kinds of house rules arose while playing: let’s try it with an alarm clock…. / let’s take turns doing a task. Nice to collect a list of variations on the rules.

😸 Our cats, too, sometimes play a game. This is one of those tracks with a marble. They prefer to play this when we are about to watch a film, then we really don’t understand anything. Sweet of them 😹 (there is a shoe next to it…. don’t know why)


🎱 I read an article about a teacher who lets his students play pool in class. He says that playing pool in maths class improves concentration and mathematical understanding. I can’t play pool, but always enjoy learning something new. So this weekend we are going for an afternoon of billiards at Utrecht’s Ozebi.


❄️ To the place where I first presented Pen & Pion 4 years ago: the NOT. (Dutch education fair). How cool it was to have a booth there in 2019. I stood there for 5 days and every day someone from my circle of friends came to help. I recorded the video you see at the bottom of this page for the NOT.

What was also fun is that a different game maker joined me at the booth every day. Ellis stopped by with one of his life-size movement and thinking games, you could play the small games (nice for the break) from White Goblin Games and Inez from Games & Learning was there with the big Conference game.

This year, I went by as a visitor and briefly visited Quiboba. I previously wrote about these fun language games in my newsletter.

🌞 Together with Inez, I am working on a European project around the use of games in adult education. We are doing this together with Germany, Spain and Latvia. Many of the meetings are online and each country has his/her own focal points and can therefore work independently. But occasionally we also meet live. This time in Valencia. Whoop, whoop!

Although I like travelling eco-friendly, this time we are going by plane. Because we can, we will add another day of ‘tourist’ to this outing after working days. Lovely to feel a bit of warmth already in January. It is not super warm right now, but still about 16 degrees.