Master of Science (by Research) dissertation

Combining shark research with games design

In 2021 I undertook a Master of Research in Computing Science. I based all my modules around the principle of combining wildlife research with games design, culminating in my final project – Bytes: Human behaviour in an interactive simulation of great white sharks hunting cape fur seals.

The basic idea was simple: use Unreal Engine 4 to create a videogame based on the environmental conditions under which great white sharks hunt cape fur seals. Why? Well, for a few reasons.

On the one hand, I was interested in how participants would adapt their hunting strategies in response to environmental conditions and whether these behaviours demonstrated any similarities to those of the actual species. On the other, I saw this as potentially being a first step in using games design to better educate people on how sharks behave. Games are a uniquely personal medium and to my mind, present considerable potential in how we can create empathy between players and the denizens of games themselves.

Despite barely scratching the surface on many of the subjects involved, I achieved a Distinction for the project and enjoyed some exceptionally strong feedback from great white shark researchers at White Sharks Global 2023.

For more information and a detailed write up about the results, please visit The Shark Dev.

Project details

  • Client: Personal (Masters dissertation) (UK)
  • Responsibilities: Scicomm, Unreal Engine 4, Creative Direction, User Interface, Blueprint, Game Design, Data Processing, Data Analysis, Experiment design, Academic Development, UX, Research

Masters Thesis Design

Conference Poster Design

I attended White Sharks Global 2023 in Port Lincoln, South Australia to share my work and discuss it with some of the world’s best great white shark scientists. Handing out copies of my entire Thesis would’ve probably not been appropriate, or cost effective for the weight it would add to my luggage. So I put a poster together and also made the game available for attendees to play on a laptop. I won Best Poster at the conference but more importantly, got the opportunity to receive some very helpful feedback that would help guide future projects.

Bytes: Human Behaviour In An Interactive Simulation Of Great White Sharks Hunting Cape Fur Seals Poster

Poster design as featured at White Sharks Global 2023