The BA (Hons) Games Design at HSAD – Useful info if applying…

The following post contains the following:
  1. A guide to portfolio expectations for interviews.
  2. An Overview of the three years of study Games Design BA (Hons) degree,HSAD.
  3. A Mini Brief to help with portfolio building should you require it.
  4. The Games Design Showreel 2016 and links to the 2015 Showreel and Heritage Project Showreel
  5. Further Useful Links.

Portfolio Guide for HSAD Games Design BA.

Should you apply to the Hull School of Art & Design and be successful in gaining an interview, you may wish to consider the inclusion of the following in your Art & Design portfolio, where possible.

1 – A current portfolio of visual material, this may include, but not be limited to:

Project Concept/Development Work, traditional and digital.

This may include 2D/3D traditional or digital work, and digital and perhaps physical 3D works (large or unwieldy items should perhaps be photographed, if this is the case you should include a second recognisable item within the photo to show scale).

…and if possible:

  • Finished Project Work, both traditional and digital.

Digital works may include digital 3D works, Flash Animations, SketchUp creations and Photoshop creations (Please avoid inclusion of simple Photoshop filter overlays if possible).

2 – Examples of written work, this might include:

  • Essays
  • Project Reflection
  • Critical Analysis/Evaluations

3 – (Ideally/Preferred)

Examples of Traditional Drawing and Art and Design skills, for example.

Conceptual and Practical Design Drawing. – Inc sketchbook work, design sheets, character designs, environment designs and props and vehicle design.

Observational drawing (i.e. from life, not photographs), inc:

  • People (this may include formal Life Drawing)
  • Architecture/public spaces
  • Multiple Objects in combination

3D Sculpt/Maquette making.

  • Dry in air clay (photographs acceptable)
  • Traditional clay (photographs acceptable)
  • Card or paper models (photographs acceptable)
  • …or artefacts created using any other specialist or found materials.

It is entirely possible that you do not come from an art and design background, this is not necessarily prohibitive, but you may still wish to attempt to evidence some of the above work where possible (in most cases a Portfolio Building exercise would have been sent to you, if not please contact G. Sleightholme and Mini-briefs can be provided).

Adaptation Mini-Brief (for interview).

Portfolio Builder 001: ‘ADAPTATION’

This project brief will ask you to consider the adaptation of an existing entertainment media product/alternative media product into a mini board game. That origin product could be a story, novel, or an original performance event, opera, stage play, song (or album concept), historic event or myth, radio-play, film (live action) or animation (or other media – just NOT a game).

You will research and make notes in your “sketchbook/day-book”; these development ideas will be part of your submission. You will need to research the idea, story or theme taken from an existing media in order to understand fully the various elements that will need to be adapted or designed.

You also wish to explore and research existing or prior examples of such adaptations from one media to another that you feel have been successful and alternatively any you feel have failed, making notes and visuals to support your opinions in your “day books/sketchbook”.

Submission of Work

The submission of work will be in the form your finished (physical*) playable game along with any peripheral items such as counters, die, etc, plus a sketchbook or day-book with all your developmental ideas, notes and tests and a disk or memory stick with all digital files including a short written summary of your process and intention & a self-appraisal.

*Photographs of game being played are acceptable if portability is an issue.

Suggested Reading & Resources

Magazines: Create Online, Computer Arts, Digit, Creative Review, ImagineFX etc


Teaching & Learning Methods

This module is to be carried out independently away from the college facility as a form of initial assessment of the students current level of learning and commitment.


The project can be assessed at interview.

An Overview of the three years of study Games Design BA (Hons) degree at the Hull School of Art and Design, 2016/17.

The Games Design BA at Hull School of Art and Design 2016/17.

“Games” is perhaps of the most visible of the current crop of interactive new media. As a medium that continues to expand into our everyday lives (mobile games, social media play, and other forms of “gamification”) it represents a large portion of the “convergence culture” that affects contemporary communications and entertainment media.

Emphasis on the course is placed on the holistic design of games, with a focus on understanding visual development for games, narrative, game play, the architecture of games and the visual skillsets used in their creation, digital art working and 3D modelling software, SketchUp, 3DSMax etc; games development using current game engine technology UE4 and the creation of small scale viable games products, proposals and related interactive digital artefacts, from casual games and table top board and card games through to fully realised, persistent virtual worlds.

Other areas covered include:

Game play mechanics; genre and relationship to previous forms; traditional design skills as applied in the games industry; the use of a range of 2D and 3D visualisation tools; navigation; some scripting and basic coding; linear and non-linear narrative; contemporary new media awareness and skills development; critical analysis; documentation of games proposals and contextual and theoretical study including the psychology of “play”; the application of transferable games technology skills, including professional practice.

Modules reflect a combination of tutor led skill and knowledge-base development, industry/client oriented product creation and self-initiated exploration and reflection; all exploring the notion of play in interactive digital media on all platforms within a conceptual framework called “gaming”.

Year 1 Summary:

The “tool box”, developing skills that allow the student to showcase their ideas and concepts for games both visually and in written form. Short projects and sessions that revolve around up-skilling in basic design fundamentals, design language & games theory and design and production software, plus traditional design skills (Drawing for Design and Entertainment Media 101 / Basic Level Mapping and Design / Proof of Concept Proposals / Character, Prop, and 3D Environment Design, and 3D Modelling etc), plus several written assignments for Critical & Theoretical Studies.

Year 1 – A Creative Toolbox

Year Two Summary:

“Content & Context” What are the things in your game that exist below the visual surface of the game that makes it work, or makes an audience return to play? What are the reasons behind your visual choices? Advanced Games Theory (then applied in the construction of casual games or broader games concepts), Research and Development for Games, 3D Environment Creation and Group Working and Client Liaison Skill Development, etc, several written assignments for Critical & Theoretical Studies, plus a Self-Negotiated Brief that allows experimentation in your chosen specialism or research area, readying the student for their Final Major Project in the 3rd Year.

Year 2 – Content, Context and Underpinning Theory

Year 3 Summary: Your own “Personal Vision”. Final Major Project (Independent Study), a Client Project, plus Independent Critical & Theoretical Investigation or Dissertation.

Plus Professional Practice looking at the development of outward facing artefacts (personal branding, portfolios/showreels, CVs, and final works).

Year 3 – Towards a Personal Vision and a Creative Future

Further Info: Students will throughout their studies work towards producing working games artefacts or visual games concepts for major and alternate platforms whilst been given opportunity to produce experimental work and explore particular specialisms related to industry.

The course is delivered through studio based, student-centred teaching and learning, with excellent access to a wide range of new media digital production facilities, within a larger art and design school setting exposing students to alternative media and facilities should they wish to explore them.

Professional and Industrial Context links with companies who reflect the contemporary state of the gaming industry provide an important professional dimension to the course, working with us to provide client oriented projects, give project based tutorial feedback and industry insight.

Competitions give valuable experience, and our past students have had much success both in the UK and abroad, including a number of nominations for and winners of the top British Interactive Media Association student award, D&AD New Bloods awards, European E-Magiciens award, Europrix UK winner and recognition in the Computer Arts graduate showcase.

Recent students have seen the selection of several works for exhibition, including three selections for the Cultural Olympiad exhibition Precious Cargoes shown in London as part of the 2012 London Olympic Celebrations. Plus two recent commissions have been given to the department one by a private firm to enhance their visitor offer during Hull’s Heritage open Day celebrations with an interactive 3D environment, the other, Bowhead, to create an animated 3D creature to be showcased as one of Hull Museum’s first projects for City of Culture 2017 (with 104,805 visitors seeing the project over its two and a half month exhibition).

Progression (Post Graduation)

Employers are ever seeking to recruit those graduates with particular games design oriented knowledge and skills as games designers/developers/ directors/producers, and the transferable skills associated with the course.

Some will be employed to produce online or mobile games from concept to completion, others being recruited into companies creating PC or console games; and others in related fields.

Our graduates have found excellent employment with a number of leading organisations and agencies across the UK including Rockstar Lincoln (seven graduates placed with RS in 2014, three more accepted at interview in 2015, ), Lionhead Studios and Evolution Studios (Sony), Creative Assembly as well as having several students engaged by local 3D graphics based companies such as Trident UK and ADS Ltd.

Students have opportunities to further their studies to MA level (Design, Visual Communications MAs exist within the same building) which are available through both HSAD and further afield.

Thank you,

 G. Sleightholme. – Lecturer BA Hons Games Design, HSAD.


Below is the most recent end of year showreel from the students of the BA (hons) Games Design degree 2017.


Follow >This Link< to watch the current Heritage Project Showreel.

Further Useful Links

Please feel free to check the attachments for further useful creative pointers (the portfolio pointers are again, as discussed, just for your benefit as you continue to develop your work) and a written overview of the course; plus one of the mini-briefs I mentioned. None of these are mandatory, simply further portfolio building exercises.
Below is a link to my creative blog, and below that a direct link to my drawing 101 exercise page (to start thinking about some of those underpinning fundamental’s such as perspective and anatomy), and below that some further tips on keeping a sketchbook/visual note book.
…plus On Anatomy

Dynamic Anatomy by Burne Hogarth –

Plus this link to various observational drawing options,
These mini-briefs here on my blog if that helps you with you populating your portfolio –
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions.

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