Dare to be Digital Radio Stars set the scene for 2008

6 December 2007

Dare to be Digital, the UK’s premier computer games design competition for students, will feature in a documentary on primetime BBC Radio 4 next Friday (14 December).

The University of Abertay Dundee, which organises the annual contest, confirmed today that“Game Academy”, a two-part documentary series revealing the challenges and achievements of the 60 students who took part in the 2007 competition, will be aired in prime morning slots on 14 and 21 December at 11am.

Indie documentary production company Wantok were commissioned by BBC Radio 4 to track the competition from start to finish, and spent more than 10 weeks shadowing the 12 teams competing in three host centres across the UK.

Part one of the documentary focuses on the host centre at Abertay in Dundee, which the producers describe as having“quietly become the Hollywood and Harvard of the UK games industry all rolled into one.” The programme will trace Dundee’s“incredible transition from jute and jam to digital dynamo”, and will feature a rare interview with David Jones, the Dundee genius behind global blockbusters like Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto.

Part two of the documentary looks at the tense round-the-clock work in the final weeks of the competition as the 12 teams prepared to show their games to the public in the Dare ProtoPlay event at the Edinburgh Festival, followed by the final‘Dragon’s Den’ style judging by a panel of industry experts. The three winning teams are then followed as they prepare to compete for a BAFTA in late October.

Paul Durrant, Dare to be Digital Director, commented“We are delighted that the programme will be broadcast in such a prestigious slot following Women’s Hour and are certain it will open up the games industry to a whole new audience.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

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 Council. In 2007, Abertay decided to double the number of teams taking part and to run the competition in host centres in Belfast and Guildford as well as the original host centre in Dundee.

A total of 60 students in 12 teams took part in the 2007 contest, which also featured two other major innovations:

1) Dare ProtoPlay– a unique three-day public showcase staged as part of the Edinburgh Festival at which all 12 teams presented their games to an audience totalling 2,500;

2) An agreement with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to establish the BAFTA“Ones to Watch” Award, the shortlist for which comprise only the three winning teams from Dare to be Digital. The Award, presented at the BAFTA Video Games Awards in October, was won by Team Voodoo Boogy, comprising five Abertay students, with their game‘Ragnarawk’.

Key hires of Dare 2007 individual contestants have already been made by Free Radical, Codemasters, Rare, Microsoft China, Disney, Rockstar North, Realtime Worlds, Google London, TT Games, Her Majesty's Government Communications Centre, Natural Motion, Stainless Games, and FXLabs (India). One team has even set up its own new company– Threshold Interactive.

Dare to be Digital has established an enviable reputation for producing high-grade talent, which in turn attracts huge industry support. In 2007, the competition was sponsored by AMD, EA, London Development Agency, Scottish Executive, Scottish Enterprise Tayside, NCR, University of Abertay Dundee, Nesta, Channel 4, XNA, Xbox 360, Realtime Worlds, Scottish Enterprise, Dundee City Council, Digital Hub, Belfast City Council with the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme, Intertrade, Queen’s University, Disney Interactive Studios, Mirai, BBC Scotland and TIGA.

Dare ProtoPlay was also sponsored by AMD, Realtime Worlds and Scottish Enterprise.

-ends-

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