Designing dread: making the perfect horror game

This is a Computer games and animation Subject Spotlight with Alec Chalmers from Leeds Arts University. An interactive, cinematic course taster experience to allow students to gain insights into what it's like to study Computer games and animation.

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In this Subject Spotlight, Alec Chalmers guides you on a journey through the dark realms of horror video game design, where the architecture of fear is crafted to haunt and fascinate. In episode one, Alec outlines what level layout is in video games, before explaining how level layouts can be used to get an emotional response out of an audience. Alec then discusses some styles of horror video games and their level layouts, and then discusses how some of Carl Jung’s psychological theories play a huge part in the design of horror games. In episode two, Alec discusses some of the key design elements that are used when creating an effective horror game. He outlines how to use these elements and highlights the importance of using them to maintain the overall themes and tone of a game. In episode three, Alec delves deeper into the design of horror games and discusses how lighting techniques can be used as powerful tools for designers to create an atmosphere and an interesting story. In the final episode, Alec recaps some of the knowledge you’ll have covered across the Subject Spotlight. He also identifies the key differences between Games Designers and  Game Artists, all before setting you an activity that encourages you to immerse yourself in the world of The Last of Us and analyse how effective the game is at storytelling.

About Leeds Arts University

Leeds Arts University is the only specialist arts university in the North of England, providing the best opportunity in which to grow as an artist, designer, musician or filmmaker. Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth studied here, as did, more recently, Marcus Harvey, Damien Hirst and Omar Kashoura. It has been ranked number one in the country in the Design & Crafts subject table, and has won several recent awards for its world class facilities. With roots dating back to 1846 and the original Leeds School of Art, it is always improving its equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups.

Meet the academics

Alec Chalmers

Alec Chalmers is the Course Leader for the new BA (Hons) Games Art and BA (Hons) Games Design courses here at Leeds Arts University in the UK. Alec is also involved with improving game education nationally as an external examiner at 4 institutions across 3 different levels of post-secondary education. Alec’s specialism is in environment design at both a concept level and an environment art production level, and he has contributed to developing numerous multi-platform titles such as Spirit of the North 2, Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure and Sniper Elite VR in the roles of both a game artist and a concept artist.

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