Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Currently available for supervision of self-funded PhD applicants in the fields of game design, games research, game development, and applied psychology in game design, play, and education.

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


I am a Senior Lecturer in Computer Games Design in the School of Creative Technologies at the University of Portsmouth, and the Course Leader for BA (Hons) Computer Games Design. I have over 10 years experience teaching game design and development in Further and Higher Education, focusing primarily on game systems design, player experience design, 3D asset creation, level design and scripting, and academic games research. I have design and development experience in the UK games industry, including in my role as Game Designer at The Chinese Room.

I hold a PhD in Game Design, an MSc in Psychology, and I am Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society. I now lead the games research area within the school which is currently engaged in multiple projects, developing research-driven commercial game products in areas including disruptive game design, narrative design, interpretive play, player psychology, and values-driven design. Alongside this, I also co-chair the Faculty Practice-Research Group which is focused on developing and enhancing the practice-research work across the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries alongside improving the faculty-wide research culture.

Additionally, I hold a number of external roles, including external examination for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in game design and game art, and peer review roles for ACM, Games & Culture Journal, the Creative Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis, and McFarland.

More information can be found at my official website and my blog.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the intersection of game design and player psychology, particularly focusing on Disruptive Game Design - an approach to game design developed in my doctoral research that aims to subvert 'typical' game rules and associated player expectations of how games 'should' work. More broadly, I am interested in the application of psychological theory to the practices of game design, game play, and games education.

A key part of the games research activity within our research team is an aim to create commercial games from our research projects to demonstrate the practical uses of the theoretical work that underpins them. This is achieved through our in-house development and production studio, Port in the Storm, which I co-lead. This is designed as a mechanism for commercialisation of staff research projects but also for promising undergraduate and postgraduate development work too. Currently, we are developing commercial game titles alongside publishing articles around their design and development. These projects focus on cognitive factors in gameplay and game-based storytelling, ambient and pervasive games, and educational game design, and experimental design and development processes.

Teaching Responsibilities


  • Co-chair of the Faculty Practice-Research Group
  • Games Lead, Creative Technologies Research Group
  • Member of the Creative Techologies School Research Committee
  • Course Leader for BA (Hons) Computer Games Design
  • Admissions Tutor for the Play, Code, Create theme area
  • Member of the CCI Faculty Ethics Committee

Modules Taught

  • Prototyping and Iterating Game Designs
  • Games Research
  • Psychological Theory for Game Designers
  • Create Worlds

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Science, Psychology, University of Derby

Jan 2020Jan 2023

Award Date: 27 Jan 2023

Ph.D., Disruptive Game Design: A Commercial Design and Development Methodology for Supporting Player Cognitive Engagement in Digital Games

1 Feb 201123 Nov 2015

Award Date: 23 Nov 2015

PG Cert, Computer Games Technology

1 Sept 20101 Dec 2011

Award Date: 31 Jan 2011

BSc (Hons), Computer Games Technology

Sept 2007Jul 2010

Award Date: 29 Jul 2010

External positions

Lecturer in Gaming and Computing, Fareham College

Aug 2012Jun 2014

Game Designer, The Chinese Room Ltd

1 Jun 201130 Nov 2013


Dive into the research topics where Peter Howell is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or