Creativity in games has recently undergone a renaissance due to Indie developers, new formats, smaller budgets and online distribution channels as well as mainstream innovations. So contemporary game design is a challenging mix of cutting edge tech versus old school techniques like storytelling and game play. Come and be inspired by some of the world's most innovative and successful game designers offering their own top tips, and insight. The Design Track is sponsored by V&A South Kensington.

Design sessions

Accessible Design through Inclusive Design Sprints

At Gaming at Microsoft, inclusive design sprints have been utilized to connect developers with a variety of gamers to drive a more inclusive and accessible product. In this session, Tara will recap the history of the inclusive designs sprints within Gaming at Microsoft, the impacts they have had on their titles, and detailed information on how to run your own effectively and efficiently so you can replicate the process to have your own successes.


  • The history of inclusive design sprints and how they evolved to better suit gaming and gaming schedules
  • The lay out the Microsoft has been using and adapting with their own teams for running the sprints
  • How-tos and pointers from everything to selecting your subject matter experts to when to book lunch

Creating Great Game Concepts

Creating great concepts is difficult. It's an exercise in projection. The game you're designing now, will likely not be released for several years. Your job is to look at the state of things as they are, and predict how the market will evolve and grow. A great game concept foresees the potential of the future, and realises that in a fresh, innovative, but also grounded form. It's not just about what games are doing, you'll need to look at culture more broadly, and judge where interesting intersections between games and entertainment create opportunities for your title. In this talk, Damian will will give insights based on his experience of designing game concepts, leaving you with practical techniques you can use to enhance your design work.


  • How to use and evolve genre in your concept design
  • How to synthesise your concept with broader cultural dynamics
  • How to utilise lateral thinking techniques to generate new mechanics and ideas

Getting the Job Done: Using Everything to Make your Game

Grant Allen started out as a concept artist and, within just 7 years, significantly extended his skillset to become the Lead Designer on the upcoming sequel to “Battletoads”.

Grant’s talk will cover his approach in designing a game without a formal education in game design, as well as the important key techniques and lessons learned over the course his time in the industry. In particular, he will be covering prototype techniques, working with and becoming a mentor, and the transformation of a hobby into a research-focused approach to design.


  • Prototyping: paper, playable and even live action
  • Playing to learn: how to focus playing video games into targeted research
  • Learn from others: good resources and recommended articles/videos
  • Mentorship: working with a mentor and being a mentor yourself
  • Getting the job done: how everything translates into making a game

Gotcha! Co-design of a Serious Game to Help People With Dementia Name Familiar People

People with dementia often have problems naming familiar people, which is distressing for them and the people that they are trying to name. They know who the person is, and their relationship to them, it is just that they cannot access the name in word form. Previous work has shown that this condition can be improved by mass practice and adaptive cuing, using photo cards as prompts. With NIHR funding and working with a software team that specialise in gamification (SoftV), we have co-designed a therapy for this condition. Dr Doogan will cover, in some depth, the processes we used in patient and carer co-design (qualitative methodology) both to form the Gotcha! Therapy app and to understand why such patients wish to take part. Prof Leff will then show quantitative data from the app using a case-series approach to see if there were any changes in the participants ability to name trained faces.


  • Understand how co-design can work with participants who have dementia
  • Understand why people with dementia and their carers get involved in app development and usage
  • See how single-case experimental designs allow for testing of clinical efficacy in individual users

Leveraging personal stories to create compelling games.

How can developers leverage their own personal stories to create great narrative in games? Ustwo Games has a reputation for creating compelling narrative in its titles and David will peel back the curtain on the creative process inside the studio and how it allows its developers to use their creativity to tell stories that are personal, but resonate with a large player base.


  • Turn your personal experiences into compelling stories.
  • Help developers mould their games around story telling.
  • Selling a compelling story to the consumer.

Lore, Community, and Communication: Narrative Design in Early Access

What does an Early Access release mean for the development of your game’s narrative design? How can you maintain a consistent cannon when you are still writing and editing the game’s story post-release? Hunt: Showdown’s Early Access release introduced a range of narrative opportunities and challenges that have caused us to radically re-approach our own conceptions of game narrative and lore. First and foremost amongst these, ongoing community interaction and its influence on our approach and practices. Hunt: Showdown is a hard core, competitive, multi-player shooter, with a community-oriented development philosophy that has drastically affected our creative process. Technologies such as Discord allow relatively unmediated, direct communication with the community. How do you foster an ongoing sense of mystery against the backdrop of perpetual Q&A? How do you nurture and satisfy hungry consumers of your project, while also ensuring that each morsel is enough to keep them wanting more? In this talk, we will answer some of these questions, providing examples from our experiences throughout the pre- and post-Early Access development process of Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown, examining the production constraints of narrative in community-oriented development, and sharing our insights into what “lore” means to a consumer, what they expect from it, and how it can be delivered to satisfaction.


  • How to build a work pipeline that supports an Early Access approach
  • How to cope with releasing a WIP to the public
  • How to communicate with your player community about lore and - more importantly - changes to lore

Pacing the Flow of Information in AAA Games: From the Open World of Horizon, to the Battlefield's Sandbox.

Gameplay pacing is critical in deciding which information is presented to the player at any given moment, while they are playing. In this talk you will take home tools that can help you and your team pace the flow of information that is presented to your player. The talk will also cover how these tools were used to improve the HUD and in-game UI for the critically acclaimed Horizon Zero Dawn and to craft Battlefield V’s onboarding experience


The attendees will take away new ways to improve their game UI’s information architecture, specifically with regards to how the flow of information is paced. They will take home tools, in the form of simple exercises and heuristics, that can be used to help their teams achieve this goal. They will also be shown concrete examples of how these tools have been used to ship features in major AAA games like Horizon Zero Dawn and Battlefield V.

Special communication in level design. How your level communicates ideas to a player and how to take control of what it is saying.

30 level design techniques that communicate ideas to your players Every decision you make when building your level will tell the player something. From locked doors and broken drain pipes to a fallen tree or a rocky outcrop lodged into the side of a hill. These all form a dialogue that the player has with the level as they play, and if used in the right way can lead the player through a space in the exact way that you intended. This talk breaks down an example level and highlights 30 level design techniques that help you take control of what your level is communicating to the player.


How to make key moments more impactful
How to use special design to create tone and atmosphere
How to use create more visually interesting spaces

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