Fierce Dare to be Digital 2007 Kicks Off

6 June 2007

Dozens of students gave up all thoughts of a leisurely summer vacation today (Wednesday 6 June) when they were plunged into a 10-week whirlwind of intense activity designing and building a fully functioning prototype video game.

In three host centres across Britain and Ireland, 12 teams of five students each kicked off Dare to be Digital 2007– the UK’s premier computer games design competition– with many new games ideas.

Four of the teams are from Scottish universities, four are from universities in London and South East England, and there is one team each from Ireland, Northern Ireland, India and China.

This is the first time in its eight-year history that Dare to be Digital has been hosted in more than one location.

The climax of the competition is a chance for all 12 teams to showcase their prototypes alongside the Edinburgh Interactive Festival at a special event on 12-14 August. The event,“Dare ProtoPlay”, will give the general public and industry experts a chance to play and assess the games before the final awards ceremony in Dundee on 16 August.

In another first, this year’s three winning teams will form the entire shortlist for the new BAFTA Ones to Watch Award, to be presented at the British Academy Video Games Awards in October.

Dare to be Digital organisers say they are very impressed with how well the young designers and programmers, mainly third and fourth year students, stay abreast with market trends and technological developments.

“We are very excited by the caliber and creativity of the teams in this year’s competition,” said Paul Durrant, director of Dare to be Digital, which is organised by and based at Abertay University in Dundee.

“We are particularly interested to see how this year’s applicants are not afraid of taking on the challenge of designing with new consoles and distribution channels such as STEAM and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade in mind, nor trying out new genres and combinations of genres such as musical RPG, games targeted for women and an MMOG based on the age-old playground game of‘Tag’.

“I know that the judges in all three locations had a very challenging task, such was the high standard of all the dozens of applications we received. We are very grateful to Realtime Worlds, Proper Games, Denki, BBC, Cohort Studios and YooStar Ltd for their efforts and for the very exciting line up. It looks like being our best Dare ever.”

The University of Abertay Dundee is hosting the Scottish, Indian and Chinese teams, Queens University in Belfast is hosting a team from Ireland and another from Northern Ireland, and four teams from London and South East England are being hosted at the Guildford studio of leading games development company Electronic Arts.

Richard Leinfellner, VP of UK studio on-line strategy at Electronic Arts said:“Electronic Arts has always been a big supporter of Dare and wanted it to become a nationwide competition. That is why we increased our commitment and decided to host the London and South East heat in our Guildford studio. I sat on the selection panel with Lionhead, Disney Interactive Studio and Kuju to select the entries, and we were all very impressed. It’s a competition which belongs to the industry and I am glad to see additional talent coming from the South this year.”

Michael Hallissy, director of learning at the Digital Hub Development Agency, Dublin said:“This is the first year we have staged our own part of Dare to be Digital in Ireland, and it’s a joint effort between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. We received an overwhelming response in applications, and it was a tough job for judges from Demonware, Lifeboat Luke Productions, GEM and Microsoft XNA game platform extensions. We have picked two teams to enter Dare this year, and we have high hopes for them!”

Councillor Michael Browne, Chairman of Belfast City Council’s Development Committee commented:“This is an exciting opportunity to showcase local talent at an international level and a great benefit for Belfast’s wider creative sector. I am particularly delighted to see the breadth of young creative talent we have and the passion they all share for innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of interactive entertainment.”

The teams selected for Dare 2007 are: Voodoo Boogy (Abertay University), Emergence Games (Abertay University), Carebox (Edinburgh University), Threshold (Dundee University and Abertay University), PS5 (Beijing University), Phoenix (Chennai College of Arts, Animation&Technology), Lucid Dreams (London Metropolitan University and UCCA Farnham), Cold Sanity (Thames Valley University and City University), Super E.G.O (Bournemouth and Warwick University), Ergophobia (Bournemouth University), Artificial Entertainment (Ulster University) and zerO.One (Dublin City University and Carlow Institute of Technology ).

Dare to be Digital 2007 has assembled an impressive list of sponsors, including Electronic Arts, AMD, NCR, Realtime Worlds, Microsoft, Disney Interactive Studio, TIGA, the Scottish Executive, Scottish Enterprise Tayside, Dundee City Council, London Development Agency, NESTA, the Digital Hub in Dublin and Belfast City Council with the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme and Intertrade Ireland.

(Ends)

NOTES FOR EDITORS

About Dare to be Digital

Dare to be Digital was first piloted among computer games students at Abertay in 1999. Since 2000, the competition has been run by a partnership of the University of Abertay Dundee, Scottish Enterprise Tayside and Dundee City. Until this year, Dare to be Digital took place entirely in Dundee, but often including teams from the rest of the UK and overseas. Abertay University’s decision to almost double the number of contestants for 2007 lead to the setting up of the regional host centres.

In each of the host centres, the teams will have access to desk-space and computer equipment, and will receive financial support and weekly training sessions from industry specialists throughout the 10-week competition.

Dare to be Digital has established an enviable reputation for producing high-grade talent. Contestants from last year’s competition are now working for Codemasters, BBC Scotland, Rockstar North, Electronic Arts UK and Electronic Arts Shanghai.

Abertay University has attracted an impressive list of sponsors for Dare to be Digital 2007, including Electronic Arts, AMD, NCR, Tiga, the Scottish Executive, Scottish Enterprise Tayside, Dundee City Council, the Digital Hub in Dublin and Belfast City Council with the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), headquartered in Redwood City, California, is the world's leading interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, the company develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for videogame systems, personal computers, cellular handsets and the Internet. Electronic Arts markets its products under four brand names: EA SPORTS™, EA™, EA SPORTS BIG™ and POGO™. In fiscal 2006, EA posted revenue of $2.95 billion and had 27 titles that sold more than one million copies. EA's homepage and online game site is www.ea.com. More information about EA's products and full text of press releases can be found on the Internet at http://info.ea.com.

More information: www.daretobedigital.com www.abertay.ac.uk

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