Play to Promote was a Scottish Crucible-funded research project, running from August 2015 to December 2016. The aim of the project was to establish a network of game designers, scientists, and public engagement experts with a view to co-designing and developing innovative digital games for the communication and promotion of science.

Working with teams of Abertay undergraduate students, the project led to the creation of four game prototypes that were subsequently exhibited at a series of public events in the summer and autumn of 2016.


Dr Robin Sloan

(Principal Investigator, Abertay University)

Dr Alasdair Rutherford (University of Stirling)

Dr Helen Dooley (University of Aberdeen)


Dr Erik Gauger (Heriot-Watt University)

Dr Brian Quinn (University of the West of Scotland)

Dr Adrian Saurin (University of Dundee)


Between September 2015 and May 2016, four game prototypes were developed. Each prototype was allocated a mentor from the project team, with the mentor aiming to fulfil a co-design role.

The four developed prototypes were:

​NAMAKA (Co-I Dr Brian Quinn)

A game designed to communicate the impact of micro plastics on the marine environment​.

ORBS (Co-I Dr Erik Gauger)

A puzzle game that aimed to communicate concepts from quantum mechanics.​

TIDES (Co-I Dr Helen Dooley)

A game aimed at younger audiences, with the objective of providing an insight into the characteristics of British shark species.​

CELL CYCLE (Co-I Dr Adrian Saurin)

A game that sought to highlight the factors that impact upon cell growth and mutation.​


Game showcase events were used to make a direct connection between project members, student game designers, games researchers, and the wider public. At all events, attendees were invited to play the game prototypes and offer feedback to the development teams. The main showcase events were:


  1. 1st International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG (August 2016)

  2. Dare Indie Fest (August 2016) 

  3. Perth Museum & Art Gallery Tech Day (September 2016)

  4. Digital and Gaming Weekend, Dundee Science Centre (November 2016)