Dr Kieran Hicks

Course Director

Digital, Tech, Innovation & Business

I am a passionate educator and researcher with a strong focus on game design. With a background in technical game design, I try to bring a unique perspective to the field through the lenses of game feel and accessibility. My teaching interests revolve around game design principles, including game feel, level design, prototyping, and gameplay systems. I enjoy exploring the nuances of game design and encourage students to delve into the intricate aspects that make games immersive and engaging. My research interests align closely with my teaching, with a particular emphasis on juicy game design—an area that examines the sensory and aesthetic aspects that enhance player experience.

I supervise PhD students and invite applications for those interested in areas around games user research, game feel, player experience, games for diverse groups, accessibility.

 With nearly a decade of experience in academia and the games industry my expertise extends to conducting world-leading games user research, ensuring that these insights inform both my teaching and industry projects. I co-founded a successful games company after completing my undergraduate degree, overseeing the commercial release of several games and managing a small studio. Beyond commercial game development, I have collaborated with games-focused groups such as the national video game arcade and Nottingham City Council to create innovative and engaging public playspace civic experiences.

Looking to the future, I hope to continue pushing the boundaries of our understanding of interactive experiences. Currently, I’m working on publishing follow-up results that build upon my work in the field of juicy game design. This research aims to deepen our understanding of how sensory and aesthetic elements can elevate the overall player experience. Additionally, I am actively exploring technical interventions for creating games specifically tailored to visually impaired children, aiming to foster inclusivity and accessibility in the gaming industry. I welcome potential collaborations that align with my research interests.

Professional memberships and activities

  • Teaching Fellow FHEA

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Computer Science: Exploring the Impact of Juiciness on Player Experience.
  • MSc by Research: Leveraging Icebreaker Tasks to Facilitate Online Cooperation.
  • BSc (Hons) Fist Class: Games Computing.


  • Game Design
  • Juiciness and Game Feel
  • User Experience Evaluation
  • Specialised Game Accessibility
  • Game User Research
  • Technical Game Development
  • Level Design
  • Prototyping

Research interests

  • Player Experience
  • Accessibility in Interactive Applications
  • Serious Games
  • Game Feel
  • Human Computer Interaction



  • Advanced Games Engines
  • Advanced Level Design
  • Experimental Level Design
  • Multiplayer Level Design
  • Rapid Game Prototyping



  • Game Feel
  • Game Systems Design
  • Advanced Vehicle and Weapon Prototyping
  • Masters Investigation


Mason, L. et al. (2022) ‘Including the Experiences of Physically Disabled Players in Mainstream Guidelines for Movement-Based Games’, in Proceedings of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1–15.


Dickinson, P. et al. (2021) ‘Experiencing simulated confrontations in virtual reality’, in Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1–10.


Hicks, K. and Others (2020) Juicy Game Design: Exploring the Impact of Juiciness on the Player Experience. University of Lincoln.


Davies, B., Headleand, C. J. and Hicks, K. (2020) ‘Exploring the Impact of Gender on Character Mechanics in Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) Games’, in 2020 International Conference on Cyberworlds (CW). IEEE, pp. 71–78.

Gerling, K. et al. (2020) ‘Virtual reality games for people using wheelchairs’, in Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1–11.


Hicks, K., Gerling, K., Dickinson, P., et al. (2019) ‘Juicy game design: Understanding the impact of visual embellishments on player experience’, in Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play, pp. 185–197.


Hicks, K., Gerling, K., Richardson, G., et al. (2019) ‘Understanding the effects of gamification and juiciness on players’, in 2019 IEEE Conference on Games (CoG). IEEE, pp. 1–8.


Gerling, K. et al. (2019) ‘Designing interactive manual wheelchair skills training for children’, in Proceedings of the 2019 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference, pp. 725–736.


Linehan, C. et al. (2019) ‘Handing over the keys: A qualitative study of the experience of automation in driving’, International Journal of Human--Computer Interaction. Taylor & Francis, 35(18), pp. 1681–1692.


Dickinson, P. et al. (2019) ‘Virtual reality crowd simulation: effects of agent density on user experience and behaviour’, Virtual Reality. Springer London, 23, pp. 19–32.


Gerling, K. et al. (2018) ‘Potential and limitations of playful technology to support infant feeding’, in Proceedings of the 2018 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play Companion Extended Abstracts, pp. 431–437.


Hicks, K., Dickinson, P., et al. (2018) ‘Good game feel: an empirically grounded framework for juicy design’.


Hicks, K., Gerling, K., et al. (2018) ‘Leveraging icebreaking tasks to facilitate uptake of voice communication in multiplayer games’, in Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology: 14th International Conference, ACE 2017, London, UK, December 14-16, 2017, Proceedings 14. Springer International Publishing, pp. 187–201.


Gerling, K. et al. (2017) ‘Exploiting players? Critical reflections on participation in game development’, in Extended Abstracts Publication of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play, pp. 653–655.


Gerling, K. et al. (2016) ‘Designing movement-based play with young people using powered wheelchairs’, in Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 4447–4458.


Gerling, K. M. et al. (2016) ‘Creating wheelchair-controlled video games: Challenges and opportunities when involving young people with mobility impairments and game design experts’, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. Academic Press, 94, pp. 64–73.

Hicks, K. et al. (2015) ‘Exploring Twitter as a game platform; strategies and opportunities for microblogging-based games’, in Proceedings of the 2015 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play, pp. 151–161.


Waddington, J. et al. (2015) ‘Participatory design of therapeutic video games for young people with neurological vision impairment’, in Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on human factors in computing systems, pp. 3533–3542.


Linehan, C. et al. (2014) ‘Designing games for the rehabilitation of functional vision for children with cerebral visual impairment’, in CHI’14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1207–1212.

External profiles

in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021