Division of Games and Arts

Internationally recognised teaching and research in game design and digital arts.

About Us

The Division of Games and Arts is home to Abertay’s internationally recognised teaching, research and knowledge exchange in game design and production, computer arts, immersive experience design, and game studies.

Abertay was the first university to offer computer games degrees. We are the best institution in Europe to study game design and development, and consistently feature in the Princeton Review’s list of the world’s top games courses. The school is designated the National Centre of Excellence in Computer Games Education, and we are a leading partner in Sony’s PlayStation First initiative, and home to one of the largest PlayStation teaching labs in Europe.

Our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are designed to support your development of technical and creative skills through studio-based practice and live projects working closely with industry.

We also provide opportunities for students to collaborate with each other across disciplines, producing games and digital media projects in response to briefs set by both academic staff and industry.

Head of Division

Dr Dayna Galloway

Study with Us

Postgraduate Taught Degrees

Postgraduate Research Areas

Please see below for our areas of research focus in this Division.

Or, if you are looking for something specific, visit the full list of university research opportunities in our course list.

Facilities

Our approach to game education incorporates work-related learning, workplace simulation and team-based development environments.

The learning spaces are a combination of dedicated development studios and project spaces. Specialised spaces for content and asset creation include:

  • A 3D modelling, animation and motion capture studio
  • 3D printing and emergent technology lab
  • A professional-grade sound and audio recording studio
  • A Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality lab
  • A life drawing studio

Abertay is also a leading partner in Sony’s PlayStation First initiative and is home to one of the largest PlayStation teaching labs in Europe.

Students have access to a range of the latest development hardware and software on campus.

Male wearing Virtual Reality head - female watching in background

Our Research

Games and Arts is one of three Divisions in the School of Design and Informatics.

The research profile of the Division is interdisciplinary, encompassing digital art and performance, game design and game studies, and sound and music production. Research in the School is highly integrated, involving collaboration between staff from across all our Divisions, disciplines and the University more broadly. This supports Abertay’s research within the Creative Industries & Cultural Vitality, Health and Care Across the Lifespan and Sustainable Development & Inclusive Living Challenge Spaces.

Our research leads to the creation and evaluation of new and experimental forms of play, from curated digital performances to applied games. 

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. 

While our researchers are well-placed to lead and manage research projects involving the development of games and interactive media products, many are also creative practitioners engaged in practice-based research ranging from experimental game design to digital art. 

The School of Design and Informatics hosts: (i) InGAME  (Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise) the UK Creative Cluster for Computer Games, which provides a R&D environment for new and experimental creative content, products, services and experiences; (ii) the Emergent Technology Centre which will house a 5G network core (part of a £4M 5G R&D Testbed partnership with Dundee City Council and Scottish Futures Trust) - the first Scottish innovation hub to support R&D on enabling technologies for applications where mobile plays a key role (e.g., service delivery, Internet of Things); and (iii) cyberQuarter (£18.2M Tay Cities Deal) which brings together academia and industry to: create new products, markets and services; catalyse the growth of a Cybersecurity cluster that will retain and attract talent and investment; and make businesses and citizens more cyber-resilient.

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

Performance and Play

Performance and Play explores communities of play and experimental practice-research utilising digital and traditional media, the incorporation of game development, screen technologies and extended reality (XR) applications into site-specific performance and art, and studies of performance audiences. Working closely with industrial partners (e.g., Microsoft, Sony) to explore the potentials of emerging technologies for immersive storytelling and new forms of creativity and play. Current international collaborations integrate storytelling and game development, with a focus on energy use, climate change and conflict. This includes a strong focus on immersive technologies, with research focused on novel applications of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Recent work includes developing an app for street level play outside the V&A Dundee during the Covid-19 lock down.

A prime example of leading practice-based research in exploring the intersection between play and performance is the Inchcolm Project, a proof of concept hybrid of game design, theatre design and promenade performance.

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, 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.

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.

Applied Games

Applied Games draws on its academic and industrial expertise to engage a range of research methodologies – from play as interrogation and ideation in serious game jams to data driven design in full development projects – to explore the role and value of games in education, in training, and in science communication. Researchers seek to develop new game design frameworks following practice-based approaches, for instance by applying media archaeology to game design. Applied Games brings together expertise in computing, mathematics, design, and psychology to develop and evaluate both hardware and software. For example, recent work in agri-tech has brought Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI) together with animal husbandry to increase efficiency and animal health.

Our games and History research activity relates to how games, interactive media, and immersive experience design engages audiences with history, with collective memory, and with the aesthetics of nostalgia. Abertay has a strong track record of applied games research ans examples include:

  • Collaboration with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service to develop game-based learning solutions for professional training.
  • 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.
  • Their Memory, a collaboration between Abertay, Poppyscotland, Pocket Sized Hands and Ruffian Games that led to the creation of a prototype VR experience that allows participants to explore the memories of veterans.
  • Games that seek to represent the social and ethical impact of the sugar trade on 19thcentury Scotland.

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

Game studies

Games studies research underpins both Performance & Play and Applied Games areas in which we undertake theoretical and empirical research into the design, production, and reception of games, to encompass game production studies, interactive narrative, immersive storytelling, and critical analysis of games culture.

Specifically, our focus includes:

  • Game narratives, genres, media literacy, and performance in games.
  • Gamification
  • Ludification
  • Transmedia
  • Game production studies, communities of practice, and game jams.
  • The history of game audio, visual design, and gaming nostalgia.
  • Curation, collection, and archiving of games and interactive media.

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, 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.

Job Opportunities

 For Job Openings, including Research Fellowships in our School, view the job search section on our website.

For PhD Studentships in any of our Subject areas, check out the Funded research projects and Postgraduate Research Funding sections.

 

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