Dare to be Digital winners– and BAFTA nominees– revealed

Embargo: Not for publication or broadcast before 3pm, Thursday 16 August 2007

The winners of the UK’s premier computer games design competition, who are also nominees for a brand-new BAFTA, have been announced at a special event in Dundee.

Dare to be Digital, hailed by BAFTA as the‘perfect pathway’ for young talent in the games industry, held its 2007 Awards Ceremony at the University of Abertay Dundee, originator of the eight-year-old contest.

The three main prizes for 2007, each worth£2,500, have been won by Phoenix Seed with Bear Go Home, for‘Innovation and Creativity’; Carebox with ClimbActic, for‘Use of Technology’; and Voodoo Boogy with Ragnarawk, for‘Commercial Potential’.

All three winning teams will now go forward as the only nominees for the new BAFTA Ones to Watch award, due to be announced in October.

Phoenix Seed comprises four Chinese students and one Scottish student from Dundee, whose Bear Go Home game is a cute far-eastern styled game aimed at casual gamers. Players must help Bear find his way home, but without directly controlling him.

The Carebox team of students from Edinburgh University designed Climbactic, a game in which players combine the skills of two distinct characters to conquer sheer rock faces, deep chasms and icy summits.

Voodoo Boogy comprises five students from Abertay University, whose Ragnarawk is a fantasy role-playing game in which the player battles evil demonic forces using their only weapon - an ancient and powerful electric guitar.

In all, 12 teams of five students each have spent the last 10 weeks in host centres in Dundee, Belfast and Guildford working against the clock to develop fully-functioningprototypes of their game ideas. The teams included four Scottish teams, four English teams, two Irish teams, one Indian team and one Chinese team.

Earlier this week, all 12 teams converged on Edinburgh for a unique public showcase, Dare ProtoPlay, staged as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh Interactive Festival. Dare ProtoPlay exposed the teams to the challenge of a public vote and the unforgiving scrutiny of a panel of junior judges all aged under 13.

On the basis of the public vote, Voodoo Boogy also won the Dare to be Digital 2007 Audience Award at today’s ceremony.

Following Dare ProtoPlay, the 12 teams were whittled down to six finalists, each of which pitched their game to an expert panel of industry insiders yesterday. As well as the ultimate winners, the finalists included: Super E.G.O. from Bournemouth and Warwick Universities, with their game Airborne; Lucid Dreams from UCCA Farnham, with their game Desire FX; and zero.one from Dublin City University and Carlow Institute of Technology, with their game Heaven2Ocean.

Chairman of the judges is Geoff Heath of NCSoft, who commented:“The judges were incredibly impressed by the quality of the work they saw. All the teams have demonstrated an extremely high level of achievement in the 10 weeks and have clearly benefited from testing their games at Dare ProtoPlay.”

The six finalist teams were each presented with a Best Practice Handbook from games industry association TIGA.

Alongside Geoff Heath on the judging panel was a galaxy of industry experts, including: Vassos Shiarlis and Neil Hutchinson (Disney Interactive Studios), Julie Adair (BBC Scotland), Graham Johnson (NCR), David Jones (RTW), Craig Pearson (PC Gamer), Miles Jacobson (BAFTA), and Richard Huddy (AMD).

During the competition, the students received help from industry specialists and a weekly allowance of£170.

Dare to be Digital is a competition open to students from Universities and Art Colleges and is promoted by the University of Abertay Dundee, which runs the competition in partnership with Scottish Enterprise Tayside and Dundee City Council.

Professor Mike Swanston, Vice-Principal (Academic Development) at Abertay University, welcomed the guests to the awards ceremony and said:“Dare to be Digital was first run eight years ago and its growth has been phenomenal, but the ethos of the competition remains constant: students come in with ideas, boundless energy and enthusiasm, and come out confident and highly skilled with much-sought-after experience under their belts.

“Dare is a particularly high profile example of the approach that Abertay seeks to adopt across all its learning and teaching activities– developing real-world skills for the real-world knowledge economy. Modern universities like Abertay can have a significant economic impact on the basis of their special skills and links with industry, and we believe that Dare to be Digital demonstrates one very successful channel for delivering this impact.”

Paul Durrant, Abertay’s Director of Business Development and project director of Dare to be Digital, said: "We were privileged to have such a high profile judging panel under Geoff Heath's chairmanship. To bring together industry legends such as David Jones and Miles Jacobsen alongside Disney, AMD, NCR, BBC Scotland and PC Gamer provided a once in a lifetime pitching opportunity to the six teams."

Notes To 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.

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

Dare to be Digital is 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.

More information: www.daretobedigital.com

www.abertay.ac.uk

www.bafta.org/games

Media enquiries: Kevin Coe

T: 01382 308452 M: 07850 904110

E: k.coe@abertay.ac.uk W: www.abertay.ac.uk


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