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This content is taken from the Abertay University's online course, Video Game Design and Development: Video Game Character Design. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Hi there, and welcome to this Future Learn course on video game character design. I’m Robin Sloan, I’m the Programme Leader for Game Design and Production Management at Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland. Firstly I’d like welcome you to follow and interact with me online. I’m extremely passionate about game design, development and research, and I’m very active on Twitter. If you want to follow me, I’ll regularly share and link interesting articles and discussions on game design. I’m also happy to interact if you have any work you want to share, comments you want to pass on, or questions you want to ask.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds This course is all about designing characters for video games, and I’ll be taking you through some of fundamentals of how to approach character design as a budding game designer, game artist, researcher of video games, or indeed, as a gamer with a passion for games and a desire to learn more about how games are made. This is very much an introductory course, and there’s no expectation of any preexisting skill sets or knowledge. During this course you will hear not only from me, but also from other staff, students, graduates, and industry friends of Abertay University. Our aim is to give you the breadth of insight. At Abertay University, we have been delivering university-level qualifications in computer games since 1997.

Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds And we house the UK’S first Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education. Many of us who teach here are not only researchers of video games and game studies scholars, but also former games industry professionals. Our focus is very much on the vocational aspects of game design, on teamwork with project-centric assessments, and the design and delivery of game products following production methodologies appropriate to professional practise. But fundamentally,– There is a need to grapple with the wider theories of game design and production if we are to better understand how to make games that break new ground, that provide rewarding and fulfilling experiences for gamers, and that contribute to our contemporary society, culture, and discourse.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 seconds This short course aims to expose you to some of the core ideas that inform character design as part of the wider field of game design. In the first week, we will be focusing on a discussion of gameplay and narrative design in relation to the design of video game characters. While in week two, we will shift our attention on to the visual design and presentation of characters. I hope that you will find the course insightful, and that you will become more interested in character design as a result.

Introduction to the course

Welcome to Game Design and Development: Video Game Character Design. The course has been developed by Abertay University, the site of the UK’s first Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education.

What will you learn?

This online course shows you how to approach character design for video games, giving you important insights into how gamers identify with the characters they control and interact with in-game worlds.

The course encompasses studies of anatomy, graphic design, narrative, and gameplay, to provide you with a broad knowledge and understanding of the field of video game character design.

By the end, you’ll discover how studying human nature can help you design characters that gamers will recognise and understand.

This course is built around a series of videos that will introduce you to core concepts in the field of character design. In addition to these videos, you will also have the opportunity to hear from games and art academics from Abertay University, who will provide their own takes on the theory and process of character design. Games industry professionals will offer their own insights, and even Abertay games students will chip in with their own thoughts on the best examples of video game character design.

As the course is aimed at anyone interested in game design and development, including those who are considering studying it at university and entering the games industry, we won’t delve too deeply into the technical details of game character design. There is no requirement of prerequisite knowledge of software, neither do you need to have any skills in drawing or writing. This is very much an introduction to the field, which will hopefully stimulate your interest in continued study and practice.


At the end of each week you will have an opportunity to tackle a short exercise that will consider the ideas discussed in the course. These exercises will be purely text based, with no need for additional software. You will also be encouraged to review others’ work and provide feedback, as peer review and constructive critique is an essential part of good game development practice.


If you are completely new to game design, some of the terminology you will read or hear may be a little unfamiliar. To help, a glossary of common terms is available to download below.


In addition to discussions within the course, you are encouraged to join the wider discussion online using the Twitter hashtag #FLcharacterdesign.

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This video is from the free online course:

Video Game Design and Development: Video Game Character Design

Abertay University