A day in the life: Zala

Zala is a Year 1, BSc Creative Computing student at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Progressing from the well-established secondary school routine to a completely new independent and self-initiated university one, is a rather big change, but so is moving from a town of 100 000 people to a city with a population 4-times the size of my whole home country. Here is how I spend an average weekday in my new life.

Establishing a morning routine

Although my days differ due to my varied timetable, having an established morning routine gives them some structure, which I believe is vital to maintain my productivity and motivation. Since this term none of my classes begin before 12 and I live nearly on campus, I do not have to rush to wake up early in the morning and usually wake up around 8 after, hopefully, a good amount of sleep. I put on a jumper and head straight into our flat kitchen to make some breakfast. After changing and stretching a bit, I opt between going to the library or staying at home to catch up with lectures or work on projects.

Lectures, labs, tutorials

Then come the lectures. After spending the majority of the first term learning the fundamentals of computing and programming, we’re now starting to specialise by taking classes such as Generative Drawing, Graphics, Sounds and Signals and developing an independent creative project, which seems like it’s going to challenge us and our way of thinking quite a bit. As we’re just at the start of the new term, I’m not quite sure what’s in store for us for each specific module, although after having the first lecture of Generative drawing, I’m positive it is going to be one of my favourite classes. For a visual person as I am, Graphics sound interesting as well.

Finishing the Day

As most of my classes finish in the late afternoon, that does not leave me with much time before the evening. On days when I do have extra time, I might head to the campus gym, attend a society meeting/social or go to any event that Goldsmiths’ organises and I find interesting. By the time I get back, my flatmates are in as well and we spend our evenings eating and chatting in our kitchen, which serves as our main social space. We also might head to a pub or on occasion a party. I end my day by reading, watching a movie or talking with friends and family from back home.

Then, we repeat.

Student Profile: Jannat

Hey there! I’m Jannat, I’m from Italy, I came to Italy from Bangladesh when I was younger. I am 18 years old and I am currently studying Computer Science at Goldsmiths.

Why I came to Goldsmiths to study Computer Science 

Before coming to this fun university, I was an A-level student. I studied Maths, Computer Science, Biology and Italian. It may seem a bit of a weird combination, however, I was interested in finding similarities and differences between Artificial Intelligence and humans so I chose Computer Science and Biology.  

I chose to do Maths as I believe it is fundamental when it comes to doing any science or technology subjects. I did Italian because I did not want to forget it if I left Italy and because I love learning new languages.  

I decided to study Computer Science for my degree because I have been very interested in tech since I was young, especially programming and AI. I chose to come to Goldsmiths because I felt like they helped me to recognize my potential, even at the interview where we have talked about my A levels, what I’m currently working on and about my future.  

What I am studying 

My experience so far at Goldsmiths has been amazing. The staff and students are nice and always make me feel included. The course is fun, we get to learn through various activities during our lectures and seminars such as using Kahoot or debugging codes… 

This term we have done 4 modules: 

  • Fundamentals of Computer Science 
  • Numerical maths 
  • Programming  
  • Web development 

Currently, I am working on my individual website which is worth 60% of my marks. I am making a website about the city of Venice and its history. The content includes advice on the places you should visit and which shops you should check out if you visit. I am also working on the last stage of my games project, which very exciting as the extension requires us to add either an enemy, platform, advanced graphics or sound to our game.  

My plan for the future 

For the rest of this academic year, we will carry on studying Fundamentals of Computer Science and Programming, and start two new topics, Problem Solving and Symbolic Maths.  

Once I graduate, my plan is to work as a programmer, but I would also like to explore different sectors such as cybersecurity and AI. I also aim to visit countries where children receive poor education and do charity work with them as much as I can.  

Goldsmiths undergraduate projects presented at CHI Play

Image of Barcelona with the words 'CHI Play 2019' overlaid

Dr Sarah Wiseman, programme leader for BSc Games Programming, reports on two student projects which were presented at the Chi Play conference in Barcelona this October.

In their last year at Goldsmiths, our undergraduate students design and deliver their final year project, which runs through the course of two terms. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn new skills and explore in depth the areas of computing that are of particular interest to them.

Often these project result in games or software being produced, but sometimes the students are able to conduct research in conjunction with that development.

In our graduating class of 2019, two such students produced work that was of such high quality that it was recognised at an international academic conference. As a result, the work of Kevin Lewis (BSc Creative Computing) and Rees Morris (BSc Games Programming) was presented at CHI Play conference in Barcelona last week.

Kevin’s work looked at how technology can affect the way that social deduction games are played.

Kevin Lewis shows his thumbs

If you’ve ever played the games Werewolf or Mafia, you’ll know that social deduction games involve you needing to determine who amongst your fellow players are lying, and who you can trust.

In Kevin’s game, an app provided players with facts about how the players were playing – who had lied, who was being more trustworthy – and explored whether players trusted the app or their own instincts more. Instincts won.

Rees’s work focused on Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs).

Rees was unable to attend the conference, so his supervisor Dr Sarah Wiseman took his place

MOBAs are incredibly popular, and the eSports scene around them is worth a massive amount of money. MOBAs are interesting from a games perspective as often players will dedicate time to online one game in the genre because of the amount of time required to become expert and acquire the in-game items.

As part of Rees’s final project, not only did he create a MOBA, but he also conducted a comprehensive survey of MOBA players to find out why they chose the particular MOBA they were interested in. Surprisingly, players didn’t often cite the game play itself, but more commonly chose the game based upon social connections, wanting to play with their friends.

Well done to Kevin and Rees!

The papers can be found here:

Tea & Testing ☕️🎮

On Monday 14 October, games students from across the department came together for our very first ‘Tea & Testing’ session.

Created by games lecturer Alan Zucconi, the event is an opportunity for students in different years and on different courses to test out their games, and explore the games that are being made by their fellow students. What’s more, there’s tea and biscuits, an important part of the testing process.

As a bonus addition to the first session, a guest visitor was invited.
Award-winning game developer Alan Hazelden came along to get some feedback on a new game he is developing. The room was buzzing and many different weird and wonderful games were played, and plenty of chatting and mingling alongside.

The event highlighted that alcohol isn’t a necessary ingredient for testing sessions. Alan Zucconi said “Most social events that give students an opportunity to playtest their games tend to revolve around pubs, which are rarely accessible and not always promoters of an inclusive environment.

“The people who don’t feel comfortable in those environments are the ones we need to hear the most. The idea to switch to tea instead is to provide students with a safer and more inclusive space.”

If you’re interested in attending the next session – either because you have a game you would like to playtest, or because you want to play some games – the next sessions are….

  • Goldsmiths library, 3pm-6pm Friday 8 November
  • Room 219, Whitehead Building, 5pm-7pm Monday 25 November

World’s smallest escape room induces claustrophobia and dread

METRO newspaper reported this week on Goldsmiths Computing student George Larkwright’s coffin-like escape room, which exhibited at the MA Playable Experiences degree show. We reproduce it here…

Why spend your weekend watching TV or drinking in a pub when you could be locked in a small box, trying desperately to escape?

We live in a time when ‘fun’ includes pretending to be in prison, smashing TVs, and choosing to go into horribly stressful situations, and so it makes total sense that someone has created the world’s smallest escape room, measuring 120cm by 70cm by 50cm.

Just like any other escape room, the idea behind The Subject (that’s the official name of the room) is to work hard and figure out clues in order to break free. Unlike your average escape room, there are no padlocked doors and dark corridors. Instead, there’s just a box.

The Subject is the creation of Goldsmiths student George Larkwright, 24, who wanted to create a truly disturbing escape room experience to induce claustrophobia, desperation and dread. Sounds delightful.


One player is shut inside and needs to figure out the clues on the box’s walls

Fed up of seeing escape rooms used for corporate team bonding and smug selfies, George designed a challenge to make players leave ‘haggered and almost aged by the experience’.

The room, which is basically just a big coffin, is designed for two players. Player one is locked inside the box, while player two has to help them escape.

Inside the box is a pencil, paper and a torch. The trapped player has to decode a load of cryptic messages and clues written across the box’s interiors. The player outside the box has to look through a load of documents and figure out a code in order to piece information together, solve the puzzle, and unlock the box, freeing their pal.

The theme has some pretty dark sources of inspiration. George first thought of the idea after watching Kill Bill 2, which includes a scene in which a bride is trapped in a coffin. He then drew inspiration from the horrifying histories of wartime human experimentation and the American security services mind control programmes during the Cold War.

George has a load of experience writing for theatre, so was able to pull together these ideas into a tricky narrative that sounds more than a little bit stressful.

The contestant in the box is a prisoner of war locked up in a laboratory, while player two is a secret services operative tasked with freeing them, all under a 30 minute time limit.

As we said, this is supposed to be fun.

George said: ‘I want participants to emerge haggard, almost aged by the experience, but also triumphant, proud of navigating a game that is both physically and mentally taxing.’

The Subject was part of the Experiments in Play exhibition, for students at Goldsmiths at the weekend. The quickest escape thus far took 17 minutes. George now plans to take the box on tour, so keep an eye out for dates if you fancy giving the challenge a go.



Welcome Week 2019

The new academic year begins on Monday 23 September, and we’re looking forward to welcoming all our new and returning undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Monday 23 September

Wednesday 25 September

11am – 1pm: Undergraduate induction events

  • FOUNDATION YEAR, Room LG01, Professor Stuart Hall Building
  • COMPUTER SCIENCE, Room LG02, Professor Stuart Hall Building
  • BUSINESS COMPUTING, Room 306A, Richard Hoggart Building
  • GAMES PROGRAMMING, Room 306A, Richard Hoggart Building
  • CREATIVE COMPUTING, Room 219, Whitehead Building
  • DIGITAL ARTS COMPUTING, Room 208, Whitehead Building

Thursday 26 September

All students are welcome to meet Hacksmiths, our student-run tech society. They’re running an exhibition of games and other tech creations they have made in the past year or so.

  • 11am – 3pm: Meet Hacksmiths, Weston Atrium, Professor Stuart Hall Building
  • 3pm – 6pm: Undergraduate social event at New Cross House

Friday 27 September

Postgraduate induction event

  • 1pm – 2pm: Tea and cake social, Whitehead Building foyer
  • 2pm – 3.30pm: Welcome to the Department of Computing, Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre, Whitehead Building
  • 3.30pm – 4.30pm: About your degree programme
  • 4.30pm – 7pm: Postgraduate social event at New Cross House

Experiments in Play

Join us for a showcase of inventive and experimental playful experiences developed by students on the MA Independent Games & Playable Experience Design.

Website: EXPERIMENTS IN PLAY
Course: MA Indie Games + Playable Experience Design

The exhibition promises to push the boundaries of what games can offer as a medium, and experiments with the vast capabilities of play. Expect an array of inventive and experimental playful experiences that sit at the intersection of games, interactive design, and creative technology.P

  • Opening gala: 6pm-10pm, Thu 19 September 2019
  • Exhibition continues: 10am-8pm, Fri 20 and Sat 21 September 2019

Work on show includes physical performances and workshops, interactive literature, VR & AR experiences, alternative controllers, and playable works of art, as well as more traditional video game and board game experiences.

The show explores the possibilities of embodied and immersive storytelling and alternative narrative structures, considers how games are evolving to critically impact on issues of gender, mental health, sexuality and intimacy, and reimagines a world of gaming that champions inclusion and accessibility.

As part of the Experiments in Play showcase we are holding an Opening Night Gala, which will feature a series of talks and panel discussions. Speakers will be announced soon.

Website: EXPERIMENTS IN PLAY
Course: MA Indie Games + Playable Experience Design