The next generation of computer games stars was unveiled in Dundee last night Sunday 14 August as the three winning teams from Dare to be Digital were announced. Applications from over 70 universities worldwide were whittled down to just 15 teams to compete in Dare to be Digital 2011. Hosted and run by the University of Abertay Dundee, Dare to be Digital brings in games industry professionals to hand-pick and mentor the teams. Many competitors go on to receive job offers from these world-leading companies.
Were please to announce that Digital Knights, Evolved Ape and Swallowtail will now compete for the exclusive BAFTA ‘Ones to Watch’ award – which only the Dare to be Digital winners are eligible to compete for. The BAFTA winner will be unveiled in a glittering ceremony in London early in 2012.
The final of Dare the ProtoPlay festival saw record-breaking numbers of visitors with over 9,000 people playing and enjoying games, three times the number who visited the festival in Edinburgh last year.
Digital Knights team leader Roman Graebsch said: “We never, ever thought we’d be here. The team got together for the fun of it, so it’s just amazing to be nominated for a BAFTA. It’s just such a great feeling to see people enjoying what you’ve created.”
Digital Knights are Agne Gediminskaite, Roman Graebsch, Josep B Martinez and Petr Papez from the IT University of Copenhagen and Amr Din from Abertay University. Their game Joust! is a fun Kinect title where you jump up and down, and use your arm as a lance to joust.
Evolved Ape team leader Malath Abbas said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic and really proud of the final product and the whole team. All the hard, hard work has paid off, and personally it’s made me realise I have the ability as an artist and as a leader to deliver.”
Evolved Ape are Stuart Brown, Joe Hurst, Daniel Scholes and Mat Stevenson from the University of Central Lancashire and Malath Abbas from Liverpool Screen School. Their game Dreamweaver for the PC is a puzzle-platformer which quickly develops into a nightmare – where your friendly animal companion starts to attack you…
Swallowtail team leader Sophia George said: “We’re so happy to win – the team worked incredibly hard. I came into industry because I wanted to see more women working in games – and in turn creating more games for women. It is such an incredible privilege to win.”
Swallowtail are Rosie Ball, Kristian Francis and Sophia George from the Norwich University College of the Arts and Mark Bamford and Callum Goold from Abertay University. Their iPad game Tick Tock Toys needs you to clear a toy box to help your clockwork robot reach its goal.
Noirin Carmody, awards judge and Commercial Director at Revolution Software, said: “I am very encouraged by the number of young women involved in the making of games, which undoubtedly will help to create games that appeal to a wider audience.”
Kieran Connell, awards judge and Development Lead at Microsoft Studios, said: “I’ve been incredibly impressed with the technical achievements of all the teams this year, but particularly those that have managed to get to grips with Kinect – creating natural and enjoyable game mechanics with such a new piece of hardware in such a short space of time is phenomenal.”
Richard Leinfellner, awards judge and Chief Executive of Babel Media, said: “Once again the quality of entries was very high – and this year the diversity of devices used by the teams was striking. Dare to be Digital is really starting to reflect the wide range of audiences that today’s developers can reach through games.”
Dr Louis Natanson, who leads computer games education at Abertay University, said: “Dare to be Digital is a life-changing opportunity for aspiring young computer game developers. “The standard of games gets better and better every year, and it’s been a real joy to see thousands of people enjoy playing the games in Dundee this weekend. It is a real vote of confidence in the Dundee industry and in the game developers of the future.” He added: “To have to build a brand new game in just nine weeks is a massive challenge, and every single competitor deserves to be immensely proud of what they have achieved. They arrived at Abertay University nine short weeks ago as promising students – they leave us as very promising young professionals. We will watch their careers with great interest.”