Annika Heilmann

Analogue games—board games, card games, etc.—are generally a very inclusive medium. They have been connecting different generations for a long time, such as in family game evenings. But for one group in particular, analogue games are not all that inclusive: people with visual impairments encounter many barriers here, for instance a game board where the fields are only printed on and thus cannot be detected by touch, or colours that cannot be distinguished by people with colour vision impairment. This needs to change. In her theoretical work, Annika Heilmann developed a checklist of how barriers in analogue games can be avoided or reduced for people with visual impairments. The purpose of her bachelor project was to verify this by developing an analogue game that is equally playable for persons with and without visual impairments. This is how ROTUNDI came into being.

Annika Heilmann

What is a good design for you?

Good design for me should be both functional and visually appealing. For me, the ideal design would be one where both things go hand in hand, the visuals adding to the functionality and the functionality guiding the visuals.

What was the most challenging experience during your studies?

I think most challenging was the last year: The whole 'Rona situation started right after my internship ended, so the next semester was entirely online. And the semester after that one was the bachelor semester. Therefore I last had lessons on campus 1.5 years ago and I feel I missed out on that.

Who or what inspires you?

I get inspired by random things: Something someone says or a detail I see in everyday life can create an idea in my head.

What advice would you give to students who just started studying in your programme?

Network! Start networking as soon as you can, either via events or via different Discord servers etc. Yes, it's hard at first, especially as an introvert, but it can help you a lot, especially when looking for an internship later on. I met the company for my internship in the 1st semester and just made sure to say hello whenever I met the people at events, so they already knew me when I applied in 4th semester.

Have you changed during your studies? How?

I believe my goals have changed during my studies. When I started I pictured myself as a game artist in a big company, ideally working on an AAA title at some point. Now I envision myself as part of a very small indie studio, working as a Game Designer, maybe with a bit of 2D art on the side. I could even see myself teaching a university course next to my main job at some point, when I have gathered a lot more knowledge and work experience.

Why did you choose to study in your programme?

When I found out that the UE in Hamburg was about to start a new Game Design program, I immediately went to an information event the next day (spontaneously travelling from Bremen to Hamburg) and fell in love with the university. The building, the atmosphere ... it just felt right. So I listened to my gut and applied.

Say hi!

2 comments in total

Bchuvx 2021-04-10 06:19:20


Bela 2021-02-13 15:56:12

I applaud your efforts, Annika! :) Inclusion is such an important part of design, so kudos to you for your choice of topic and the end results. Obviously, it's a little bit sad not to be able to play the game firsthand to fully grasp its complexity, but at least one got to see your vision come to fruition.

Noem Harders