Paul Starkey





Gamification is at the core of Paul Starkey’s practice, teaching and research.

Dreaming up gaming devices is second nature to Paul, a lifelong gamer and a member of the BA (Hons) Games Design and Animation teams at Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD). So it was only natural for the academic to apply the principles of gamification – the use of gaming mechanics in a non-game setting – to his lectures.

It is a pioneering method of delivering learning materials for education, and the subject of his MA proposal.

Paul says: “I have completed an experiment to develop a method of gamification. It involves dividing facets of education into separate elements and attaching game technology into them. Students then embark on a “quest” to gain experience points, or bragging rights to gain access to the next level.”

With a student website built, a pilot group of students have completed their “quests” to gain experience points as part of their studies.

The early indicators are that Paul’s educational experiment is likely to be very successful. Since introducing the gamification of knowledge in the Games Design studio, student attendance, punctuality and the volume of work produced have all improved. Student attendance has risen to 100%.

He is now looking at embedding gamification firmly into the first and second-year Games Design programmes and says the principles can be applied to any course, in any educational institution.

Paul is also involved in a large-scale research and development project with fellow academic, Gareth Sleightholme.

Rabbit Heart is a long-term research project that is being added to by students in each graduating year of the Games Design course.

“We’re going through every single process,” says Paul, whose major role on the project is to develop and produce all the visual game elements and mechanics of the game.

“I’m the tech guy who makes everything work,” he says, simplifying the complex, highly technical process somewhat. The plan for Rabbitheart is, eventually, to develop it into a tangible end product, in the form of a educational coffee table art book.

In the space of two years, the team has already taken the game to its first playable level and presented it at Hull’s annual Platform Expo in 2012. Paul’s students all have the opportunity to get involved with user-testing, producing assets – the “furniture” of a game’s set – and producing designs.

Paul has been teaching at HSAD since 2011, delivering lectures and technical software support that allows students to understand games design. At the time of writing, he is teaching nine different software products to industry standard, and counts 27 more software variations in his repertoire. He has a BA (Hons) in Games Design from HSAD.

In his spare time, Paul’s practice includes freelance games design work, developing assets for games or other digital environments for clients in the games industry or other digital environments. He specialises in 3D modelling, such as the development of scenery, furniture and terrain, and texturing. He also builds and designs html and Flash websites.

He is currently developing a second personal games project based on a range of European folk tales.

For more information about Paul, visit

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