Robin Sloan

Robin Sloan

I am a Lecturer and Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Game Design and Production Management at Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland.

Location Dundee, Scotland


  • I find this projection of character on to other objects really fascinating also, and how we infer personality and intent from a graphic or agent based on its behaviour more than its appearance. That's why I really love Thomas Was Alone by Mike Bithell - although there is narrative context provided, the graphic design is flat and geometric and we infer so much...

  • Manic Miner remains a defining game for me, as simple as it may have been! It remains one of the games that terrified me the most as I died so, so often...

  • Hi Jennifer - you sound like you are coming from the same place I came from! I was broadly interested in games and art, and studied as an artist first before specializing in games. I hope this course does help you on the journey towards university study ;-)

  • Robin Sloan replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Hi there - yes I agree this is an important part of character design. Identity is one thing for sure, but it's so important to be able to make characters who are not like ourselves but with whom we can establish a meaningful connection. It helps us to understand the world through others' eyes, and games have a powerful means of achieving this by making you the...

  • Empathy and suspension of disbelief are so important to all character work, for sure! Game characters then have their own challenges, particularly when establishing empathy with a complex player character...

  • Hi Aaliyah - it's great to hear you have a specific interest that you can connect to character design. Mythology is such a rich source to draw from for compelling and interesting character designs ;-)

  • Hi Adam. I like your comment on movement that is difficult to learn but that creates for an amazing experience. We'd call this the flow state - where you develop your skills to the point that you feel a balance between difficulty and your own skills, and it creates a feeling of focus and enjoyment!

  • Hi and welcome - I think it's great that you are really invested in the design and creative aspects of game storytelling even thought you want to move towards programming as a vocation. If it's a career in games you are looking at, then a varied set of interests beyond your core discipline is really helpful :)

  • Welcome, Nathan. Thank you for both of your points - this roughly aligns with some of the course content, also, with Week 1 focused more on the storytelling and Week 2 on visualisation. I hope that you find the course helpful :)

  • Hello Leonie and welcome to the course. And thank you for your example of Blackwood Crossing - I think this is an excellent example of authentic and emotionally-charged game character design, and definitely a game I would recommend course participants check out.

  • Hi Saskia. I think a lot of people come into games with this nervousness over their experience - just today I was working with a collaborator on a game concept we are creating for them, and she had to admit she hadn’t experienced any kind of digital game since the arcades in the early 1980s! But games have come on a lot, and as Leia suggests there is a...

  • I think number 2 is a particularly good question - games are one medium that allow us to ‘be’ or experience a different role or perspective. Encouraging people to step into someone else’s shoes is an important consideration in the development of a game character.

  • Welcome to the course. Curiosity is the key, and it’s great to have you signed up looking to learn more about game design in order to better understand how games are made. I hope some of your curiosity is satisfied over the 2 weeks :)

  • Thanks for identifying that - the glossary should include all abbreviations, so this was overlooked.

  • I’m not familiar with this competition, but I see that it is part of an ESRC funded project at Bangor. The ESRC is one of the main UK research funding councils and funds the UK’s research in the economic and social sciences.

  • Thanks for your comments so far. I expect into Week 2 we will see more people comment as they pick up the course, so it’s always a good idea to come back and learn from the comments that build up.

    I find it particularly interesting to see what interests everyone about game character design, and also the variety of backgrounds folks come from. I’m looking...

  • Welcome, Kitty! Thanks for sharing your background and aspirations for the course, I hope that some of the concepts we discuss in week 1 (socially around gameplay/agency) are useful to you.

  • Hi Tom, glad to see you made it on to the course! Also great to read that we have a shared fondness for the characters of Thomas Was Alone!

  • Welcome, and thanks for sharing. I really hope that this course provides further insight for you!

  • Welcome, Katie!

    One of my PhD students is researching cosplay as a practice, specifically the overlap with games and play! It's really interesting to learn that this is your background interest, and I hope that the course gives you some useful ideas!

  • Hello Syed, and welcome! It's great to see game designers on the course. Much of the content is fairly general, in that it can be applied across different game types, platforms, and budgets. So hopefully you'll be able to take some ideas from the course forward into an android game ;-)

  • Hi there! It's always great to read how many people are keen to learn more about entering game development as a career. I hope that this course provides some useful knowledge and information for you!

  • Hi Freddy, and welcome to the course.

    Gamers of the same era - I also had an Atari ST! It was an excellent computer if you were a kid growing up in the late 80s... and it was a revelation moving to the Atari ST from the ZX Spectrum!

    Hope you find this course of interest!

  • Hi Veronika, apologies for my late response to your introduction. It's interesting to read that you are coming into this course with a digital painting background - I hope that the course can feed back into your practice or help you better understand the process for visualising characters for games.

  • Hi Emilie, thank you for joining the course. My response is a little delayed, but I hope that you found the course useful. It's great to hear that you are working in localisation but have a interest in storytelling for games :-)

  • Thanks Sebastian for your feedback! I hope that you find the right community college for you. There are also lots of excellent game design courses out there, so it all depends on where you are looking to study.

  • Thanks Mike for the feedback, the sound quality is something that is being investigated. It's also good to get feedback on illustration of examples, so I can look to see where this can be better explained. Good luck with your future study and (hopefully!) the move into game design :-)

  • Thanks Vlad for your feedback, I'm glad you enjoyed this course.

  • Thanks Laura for your feedback, I'm glad that the course has given you some added knowledge that might help you as you go forward into future study.

  • Thanks, Martin ;-)

  • Thanks Monette for taking the course. Thanks also for the feedback on week 2, I'll examine some of this content and think about how more of an introduction can be added to the concepts discussed ;-)

  • Thanks David for participating to the end of the course!

  • Thanks for your feedback Willie, It's good to know that the overlaps with animation were identified but new areas of application in games were also there for you to find out about!

  • Thanks for the feedback Mike, it's good to know about the different perspectives of those who participated in the course

  • Thanks for participating in the course, Colin!

  • Thank you Andrew for your feedback, I'm happy that the course was useful!

  • Hi Shane,

    Welcome to the course, and also to gaming more generally.

    You are right that there have been longstanding issues with representation of women not only within games (and it's still a major problem), but also within the mindset of game publishers. Games have been poorly targeted at women and girls, and a side effect of that has been an...

  • Hi Andrew, and welcome to the course!

    Is that the MA at Brunel? I've found myself spotting some course titles I am familiar with here!

    You are right that Nathan can come across as fairly typical of the charming, masculine hero. But I also find him really well-rounded, authentic, and totally matched to the swashbuckling adventure genre (as a...

  • Hello Ailyn, and welcome!

    I think that's an excellent observation. Appeal isn't always about the obvious. In fact, if we went with our own first instincts or prejudices, we can end up with really quite repetitive and dull visual designs and concepts. Mario is a great example of an unlikely game character hero.

  • Hello Pamela! I'm glad to read the varied backgrounds of the folks joining the course.

    I was really keen not to make this a technical course, focussing on the technical or software based processes of character creation. Character design is so much broader than the 'how' component. In fact, I'm keen to stress with my own students the importance of 'why' ......

  • Hi Emma,

    Your educational journey so far actually sounds very suited to artistic roles in the games industry. In fact that mix of both Fine Art and a design subject such as Illustration is really a solid foundation for game art roles, as this suggests you will have strong observational and analytical art skill and a good knowledge of visual design. If...

  • Hello and welcome! I hope that this course provides some foundation as you progress on your chosen career path. We'll cover more visual design content in week 2, but the basis for good character design work always stems from a solid idea of the character, their personality, and their story.