Division of Games and Arts

Games and Arts is one of three Divisions in the School of Design and Informatics. The research profile of the Division is inherently interdisciplinary, encompassing subject expertise in digital art and performance, game design and game studies, and sound and music production, all of which supports one of Abertay’s research priority areas, Creative Industries.

Our research leads to the creation and evaluation of new and experimental forms of play, including curated digital performances, immersive narratives and experiences, and applied games. While our researchers are well-placed to lead and manage research projects that involve the development of games and interactive media products, many of our researchers are also creative practitioners engaged in practice-based research activity, ranging from experimental game design and virtual reality installations to visual and sonic art. 

Games, History, and Collective Memory

This core area of activity relates to how games, interactive media, and immersive experience design can engage audiences with history, collective memory, and the aesthetics of nostalgia. This research seeks to present players with a range of historical subjects through interactive storytelling, virtual reality, and gameplay design.

Examples of current projects include a virtual reality project exploring veterans’ memories of World War 1, and a series of digital games that examine the social and ethical impacts of Scotland’s involvement in the triangular trade.

Play and Performance

One of our key research domains involves the intersection between play and performance. A prime example of leading practice based research in this field is the Inchcolm Project, a proof of concept hybrid of game design, theatre design, and promenade performance.

More broadly, our research staff are actively engaged with the design, development, and showcasing of experimental games and playful performances. Our practice-based game design research includes experimentation with novel and original controller designs, explorations of play and play styles, and playable critiques of games and technology. Our sonic art researchers are exploring techniques for designing immersive audio for virtual reality experiences and exploring the design and performance of digital musical.

Applied Games for Professional Training and Education

In applied games, we use a range of research methodologies – from serious game jams to full development projects – to explore the role and value of games in education, in training, and in science communication. 

Our applied games research projects in this field include: 

  • A collaboration with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service to develop game-based learning solutions for professional training.
  • Working with the Royal Zoological Society for Scotland to prototype game concepts for use in zoological education.
  • Development of an educational game on the life of Andrew Carnegie for use in secondary education (with the support of the Carnegie Birthplace Museum).
  • The use of game jams to engage in knowledge exchange with private sector partners in aviation, cybersecurity and policing.

Working with our colleagues in the Division of Computing and Mathematics, we are also conducting practice-led research into the design of games to support families adversely affected by cancer diagnosis.

Arts Research

Our arts research involves the creation of original works as a commentary on contemporary society, in support of communities, and in exhibition and festivals. This includes art practice that challenges norms and provides artistic commentary on geopolitics, a digital graphic design that explores differences in visual perception and experience (including the perceptions of partially sighted communities), and engagement with- and leadership of- digital arts festivals.

Game Studies

In game studies, we are interested in undertaking theoretical and empirical research into the design, production, and reception of games. Our researchers have published research in leading international game journals and conferences. Our research interests and publications include work on: 

  • Game narratives, genres, media literacy, and performance in games.
  • Gamification, ludification, and transmedia storytelling.
  • Game production studies, communities of practice, and game jams.
  • History of game audio, visual design, and gaming nostalgia.
  • Curation, collection, and archiving of games and interactive media.

Funding

The Division has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the European Commission, the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) and a range of other funding bodies, charities, public sector and private sector organisations for research and knowledge exchange projects.

The Inchcolm Project

One of our key research domains involves the intersection between performance and play. A prime example of leading practice-based research in this field is the Inchcolm Project, a proof of concept hybrid of game design, theatre design and promenade performance. The academic is Dr Dayna Galloway.

The Inchcolm Project

Group of people watching an orchestra playing

Experimental Game Design

More broadly, our research staff are actively engaged with the design, development, and showcasing of experimental game design. Our practice-based game design research includes experimentation with novel and original controller designs, explorations of play and play styles, and playable critiques of games and technology. The academics are Mrs Lynn Parker, Dr Christos Michalakos, Dr Niall Moody, Mr Yann Seznec and Dr Robin Sloan.

Gaming festival

Arts Research

Our arts research involves the creation of original works as commentary on contemporary society, in support of communities, and in exhibition and festivals. This includes art practice that challenges norms and provides artistic commentary on geopolitics (Prof Joseph De Lappe), digital graphic design that explores differences in visual perception and experience including the perceptions of partially sighted communities (Mr David Lyons), and engagement with and leadership of digital arts festivals (Miss Clare Brennan).

Design, Production, and Reception of Games

In game studies, we are interested in undertaking theoretical and empirical research into the design, production, and reception of games. Our researchers have published research in leading international game journals and conferences. Our research interests and publications include work on: 

We also research methods of curation, collection, and archiving of games and interactive media. The academics are Miss Clare Brennan, Dr William Huber and Prof Gregor White.

Funding

The Division has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) the European Commission, the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) and a range of other funding bodies, charities, public sector and private sector organisations for research and knowledge exchange projects.

Master’s Programme

The Division offers one of the world’s leading Masters programmes in games. The MProf in Game Development was listed in the Princeton Review Top 10 for graduate programmes in games in 2017, and provides students with year-long studio based study, working closely with academic staff and local industry. Our MProf students also engage with the Division’s research projects, participating in game prototyping and development.