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  • Game Development (Design) MA

Game Development (Design) MA

Why choose this course?

This course, one of a suite of digital media courses, enables you to study professional digital media practice in a microstudio environment with a focus on the design skills necessary for the field of games development. Through a student-centred, project-based curriculum, you will work as a games designer to develop your specialist skills while working as part of an interdisciplinary team with students from across the full programme.

  • This course has been developed in consultation with our industry panel, and we are an educational partner of Sony Interactive Entertainment through PlayStation First. We are also an active member of TIGA, the games industry's representative body.
  • This course has been designed to utilise the best digital media expertise and resources from across the University, and will prepare you for employment in the digital media industry, where teams of specialists work together to develop and author innovative digital media projects. 
Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2020
Full time 2 years including professional placement September 2020
Part time 2 years September 2020
Location Penrhyn Road and Kingston School of Art at Knights Park

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • This course focuses on the design skills necessary for the field of games development. You will practise working as a games designer and use first-class facilities such as gaming PCs, development consoles and VR and AR kit. Graduates of this course are suited to jobs in the games and media industries such as game designer, indy developer, testing and user experience.
  • Kingston University is an active member of The Independent Game Developers' Association (TIGA), the games industry's representative body, and this course has been developed in consultation with industry.
  • Kingston is an educational partner of Sony Interactive Entertainment through PlayStation First. You will be able to learn to develop games for the PlayStation 4.

Sony PlayStation First

PlayStation First programme

Kingston University is an educational partner of Sony through PlayStation First. Through this partnership you will have the opportunity to learn how to develop games for the PlayStation 4 as part of this course.

What you will study

You will design and create computer games, alone and in teams, using industry-standard production management tools and techniques that stimulate a professional environment of collaboration to deliver a product on time. You will also develop vertical-slice prototypes using new technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, and will learn how to present yourself to potential employers through your professional presence and portfolio.

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Teaching on this course usually takes place in 2 separate specific week blocks (Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm). For further details please contact secpgstudentoffice@kingston.ac.uk.

Modules

Optional modules

Core modules

Digital Studio Practice

30 credits

You will work with a multidisciplinary group of students as appropriate for your course (User Experience Design MSc, Game Development (Design) MA, Game Development (Programming) MSc and Computer Animation MA); involved with the digital media production process in response to a project brief developed in consultation with the industry panel and/or research staff. Projects concern contemporary platforms, such as iPhone, Android, Windows, Playstation, Xbox and Next Generation controllers and innovative input devices. You also develop a professional profile (online CV/portfolio) fitting for your role and intended destination which you maintain throughout the course.

  • Coursework: report, prototype, and presentation (group and individual)
  • Schedule: allow one weekday per week in the first semester
  • Class size: approximately 20–30
  • Staff: course staff
Media Specialist Practice

30 credits

This flexible module gives each you the chance to develop your unique interpretation of professional practice that captures your specific interests or niche within your course field.

  • Possible specialisms for User Experience Design include: information architecture, web prototyping (Javascript, HTML, CSS etc), mobile-user testing, remote user research, visual design, interaction design, content strategy, service design, branded Ux and information design.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Programming) include: tools and plug ins; pathfinding algorithms; graphics programming; physics; game server backends; traffic/flocking/crowd AI.
  • Possible specialisms for Games Development (Design) include: concepts; mechanics; levels, narrative; gameplay; world and system design; interface and navigation; casual, serious and game studies.
  • Possible specialisms for Computer Animation include: storyboarding; character development; visual narrative; match moving; lighting; art; environments; levels and props; motion capture; rigging; particles, dynamics and fluids; tools and plug ins.
  • Coursework: design report, artefact (video, prototype, design documentation, or empirical data as appropriate), presentation
  • Schedule: allow approximately one weekday per week in the second semester
  • Class size: approximately 20–30
  • Staff: course staff
Game Design

30 credits

This module deals with the game design principles such as narratology versus ludology; interactive fictions; understanding play and engagement; level design and game flow; motivation, jeopardy and reward; to present ideas verbally, on paper and in technical demos, in a range of 2D and 3D graphics and animation packages, with some programming skills at scripting level.  

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Develop and carry out effective and appropriate research and testing methodologies in relation to practice.
  • Apply game theory to practice in such a way as to confidently inform design decision making processes.
  • Use new and existing technologies to enhance the communication of design processes and resolutions.
  • Identify, analyse and critically reflect on game design practices and processes in such a way as to enable the evaluation of career opportunities and individual direction within the gaming industries globally.
Digital Media Final Project

60 credits

The Digital Media Final Project, as a capstone project, consolidates the knowledge gained in earlier modules and is informed and supported by prior learning.

You will interpret the coursework into a practical solution and demonstrate skills in defining, analysing and developing a substantial solution to an individually defined design related problem. You will utilise an advanced understanding of contemporary digital media practice. The research and documentation of the project is an integral part of the submission; reflecting on the process, as well as the critical analysis and methodology of the research itself. The research will be conceptually integrated within the practical work. Individual project topics are expected to be wide ranging and provide the opportunity to fully investigate a practical situation, underpinned by a critical report on the work produced. Topics must allow the opportunity to position work with respect to business, social and cultural goals and identify and apply appropriate technology as a means of delivery.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Critically apply theoretical knowledge of design and evaluate contemporary discourse on the subject.
  • Demonstrate the application of design research methods in formulating concepts and ideas.
  • Originate design propositions through the application of appropriate design ideologies, research principles, methods, materials and technology, forms, means, actions or interventions.
  • Engage in the critical reflection of own work and in peer review related to the development and production of the major project, employing skills of evaluation, contextualisation and communication.
  • Disseminate the research process and outcomes of the final project with appropriate currency and consideration of audience.

Core modules

User Experience Design (Content)

30 credits

This module focuses upon user research, participatory design and prototyping for new interaction concepts, particularly those for multi-user or multi-modal interaction with media-rich information sources for personal and ubiquitous computing platforms. The emphasis is upon qualitative insight and creativity for user engagement and persuasion across the end-to-end user journey, particularly in mobile contexts.

  • Coursework: design report, prototype, presentation
  • Schedule: allow approximately one day a week in the second semester
  • Class size: approximately 20–30
  • Staff: Dr Martin Colbert
Perfecting the Look

30 credits

This module builds on prior competency in using 3D modelling and animation software. It develops your 3D skills further and enables you, by guided self-study, to develop specialisms in areas that affect the look of a scene. That could be a photo realistic look, or a stylised look that aims to promote an emotional response from the viewer. Content will include rendering techniques, illumination techniques and the combination of individual elements by means of compositing.

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Make assessments of the technical requirements of a shot, to achieve particular look.
  • Successfully composite 3D assets into a live action scene, and composite together elements of a 3D rendered scene.
  • Evaluate the correct techniques required to evoke a particular mood or emotion in a still or moving image.
Professional Placement

120 credits

The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a Masters programme that incorporates an extended professional placement. It provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in an appropriate working environment, and develops and enhances key employability and subject specific skills in their chosen discipline. Students may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for the major project or future career.

It is the responsibility of individual students to find and secure a suitable placement opportunity; this should not normally involve more than two placements which must be completed over a minimum period of 10 months and within a maximum of 12 months. The placement must be approved by the Course Leader, prior to commencement to ensure its suitability. Students seeking placements will have access to the standard placement preparation activities offered by Student Engagement and Enhancement (SEE) group.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Work placement scheme

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's tier 4 visa.

Invoicing on the placement courses occurs in two stages: The standard course fee is payable in Year 1 with the placement fee invoiced in Year 2. Therefore, students starting in September 2020 would therefore be charged the placement fee of £1,385 in September 2021. Students commencing the course in September 2021 will be invoiced the placement fee in 2022 (fee tbc).

This amount will only be charged to your account after you find a placement and are enrolled on the module. You will not be charged this fee if you do not complete your prior modules successfully or manage to secure a work placement.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

Applicants are normally required to have a good honours degree in humanities, art and design, multimedia, media production or the academic equivalent.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate, either through qualifications or portfolio of works a solid understanding of digital media.

Exceptionally applicants may have no first degree but more than five years working in the field and/or a portfolio of works. In this case, there must be strong evidence that the applicant has the motivation to complete the course and the ability to work at this level. Experience in digital media or the games industry is particularly valuable.

International

In order to complete your programme successfully, it is important to have a good command of English and be able to apply this in an academic environment. Therefore, if you are a non-UK applicant* you will usually be required to provide certificated proof of English language competence before commencing your studies.

For this course the minimum requirement is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in Reading, Listening and Speaking.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements may be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

* Applicants from one of the recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

Type of teaching and learning

Year 1

Year 1
  • Scheduled teaching: 210 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1290 hours

14% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.

How you will be assessed

Type of assessment

Year 1

Year 1
  • Coursework: 100%

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose.

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

­You will be part of an intimate cohort of students which provides dedicated academic guidance and advice as well as the opportunity to build a life-long network of colleagues. Some modules are common across other postgraduate programmes therefore you may be taught alongside students who are on these courses within the School.

Who teaches this course?

About Digital Media Kingston 

This course is delivered by Digital Media Kingston.Digital Media Kingston (DMK) is an interdisciplinary, collaborative project between the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, and School of Design at Kingston University. Its mission is to bring together creative expression, theoretical analysis, scientific rigour and technological innovation to underpin innovation and excellence in the computational arts.The teaching element of the DMK project delivers a suite of four related courses: Computer Animation MA, Games Development (Design) MA, User Experience Design MSc, and Games Development (Programming) MSc. You will share the majority of your taught modules with students taking these digital media courses.

Postgraduate students may run or assist in lab sessions and may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Facilities

About our modern teaching environment

The technical resources that are available to students on this suite of courses include:

Games development suite

The games development suite contains a number of Sony PlayStation Portable developer kits (PSP). Students will be able to develop for this platform under an academic development agreement with Sony. In addition students have access to Xboxes and Microsoft XNA Game Studio developer software. A number of other consoles are also available including Wiis and Sony Playstation 3. The lab is equipped with 3D graphics software such as Maya. You also have access to a body modelling suit.

Gyroscopic inertial motion system

The IGS-190-M mobile capture suit is one of the most mature gyroscopic inertial motion systems and features 19 matchbox-sized gyros attached to individual straps on a flexible lycra suit. The gyros are the fastest in the market (at 1,200 deg/sec). Eight suits can be used simultaneously with a wireless range of over 100 metres radius and sensor resolution is 0.1 degree. Set-up time is approximately 15 minutes; the suite requires a small amount of calibration and time for the gyros to settle. The suite was purchased from Animazoo, a specialist in the area of motion capture with an IGS-190-M being used to animate the cartoon character 'The Crazy Frog' amongst many other cartoons and computer games.

Media technology labs

A multimedia and graphics studio that houses 39 Pentium 4 PCs all with DVD writers and our full graphics software which includes Maya complete, Adobe Production Studio, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Encore, Audition, Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Combustion.

Digital media workshops

The digital media workshops provide a wide range of software and specialist technical support in the key areas of CAD, 2D and 3D design, digital imaging and processing, high-quality photographic printing, audio and video production, mono and colour printing (up to A3+), and large format plotting (up to B0+). All 132 computers in the digital media workshop are set up as dual boot workstations. This means that both the Windows XP and Macintosh OS X platforms are available on each machine. You are therefore able to choose the platform (PC or Mac) that you want to work with at any given time.

Digital photography labs

The professional photography suite includes two digital imaging areas providing 26 Mac Pro computers running Photoshop software for digital image development and high quality digital scanning. Professional quality digital printing, from A4 to A2 is also available. The photography suite is supported by a team of technical and academic staff.

Premier filming space

This area comprises a studio of 100 square metres and has all you need to record broadcast quality programming. The space has a 14-metre infinity cove painted white, heavy black curtains and an eight-metre professional film blue screen. The studio space has been built with flexibility in mind and any combination of setups can be accommodated within the area with regard to filming. The studio is equipped with three Panasonic HVX200 high definition cameras in a studio specification with matte boxes, dolly tripods and P2 16GB cards.

The lighting array consists of a Kino Flow system combining Image, Zip and Para Beam light fixtures with Dedo modelling spots. The whole array is controlled by a 64-channel DMX desk.

Post-production suite

The post-production suite comprises 10 top-of-the range Macintosh computers, the majority of which are running the Intel CPU. They are all based on the Black Magic uncompressed broadcast system and are controlled by a central video server running the Apple XSan network. There is a massive 20 terrabytes of storage and the ability to stream up to 10 full HD streams across the network in real-time. At SD we can stream approximately 40 streams of video at once.

Animation suite

This suite consists of networked G5 Macintosh Power PCs with Dual 2.3 GHz processors, 2 Gigabytes RAM and a GeForce 6600 Graphics Card or a Radeon 9600XT graphics card running the industry-standard version of Maya. The Apple Xsan Server and Intel MAc Pro FailOver server have an Infortrend 15 TB disk array, QLogic 15 port Fibre switch, Fibre Optic Channel duplex AV data transfer with Netgear 24 port ethernet switch, Ethernet Meta data transfer and 48-port patch bay with 16-port fibre distribution interface.

User studies equipment

We have Morae usability testing software, a Tobii eye tracker and can accommodate one-on-one usability tests, focus groups and observational studies of collaborative work in a variety of settings. A range of computing devices is also available – mobile phones, touch screens, very large monitors etc.

Research vehicle website: we also operate a website for studying live web traffic (real online behaviour in context).

Sound recording studio

This area comprises a control room and an audio booth with talkback and video monitoring facilities. There is an extensive sound FX library and high-quality transducers suitable for high-quality voice and/or sound track recording. The studio is able to cater for both post- and pre-production sound to image work and runs with Final Cut Pro/Soundtrack Pro as its central engine.

Facilities

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MA full time £9,200
  • MA part time £5,060

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MA full time £15,200
  • MA part time £8,360

Student work

Watch a compilation of demos featuring work created by our students during their time with InKUbator – the Kingston University games development studio.

Watch a clip from Hive Wars, created by students during their course.

What this course offers you

Game Development (Design) MA is part of the Digital Media Kingston suite of courses providing students with a unique mixture of creative and technical skills.

Students will have access to first-class technical facilities such as our Games Lab, with state-of-the-art computers, moving image studios, 3D workshops and other specialist resources. These include a number of Sony PlayStation 4 developer kits. In addition other software is available including Unity Pro, Unreal and Maya. Students also have access to our new Centre for Virtual and Augmented Reality (CAVE).

This industry-facing course aims to hone your workplace skills including:

  • team-work;
  • time management;
  • communication (oral, written and electronic);
  • data collection, review and synopsis; and
  • computing.

Input from industry practitioners and experts will add a valuable dimension to your studies, particularly though the games inKUbator which features regular industry speakers. There is also the opportunity to participate in Game Jams and Hackathons.

How we work with industry partners

Digital Media Kingston courses have been developed in consultation with an industry advisory board, which so far includes members of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, DreamWorks, the BFi, Alloy, The Other Media, Sunrise Software, Abelton Live, Tonic, Active Ingredient.

The course content for the Game Development (Design) MA has been developed in consultation with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and we have an academic agreement with them that allows students to develop for Sony PlayStation Portable. Together with them, we are also planning a 'buddy' scheme for students in production where a member of SCEE production staff can offer support and guidance to students in their final projects.

Some work placements, live projects and other opportunities will be available at the discretion of the industry panel for students on this course.

Postgraduate study
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