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Belfast Kicks Off Dare 2005

DATE OF ISSUE: WEDNESDAY 26TH JANUARY 2004

The first stage of the unique games competition, Dare to be Digital, kicks off in Northern Ireland today (28th January 2005), in the hunt for the new stars of the world's billion pound games industry.

Talented students from across Northern Ireland, hoping to enter the highly competitive games sector, will head to a special event at W5 Odyssey, 2 Queens Quay, Belfast BT3 9QQ, where speakers will include Alastair McIlwain, Director of Animation, Banjax; Tony Kelly, Torc Interactive/International Games Development Association and Dr Bernard Toal, North West Institute of Further and Higher Education - marking the launch of Dare to be Digital 2005.

Dare is a competition open to students from Universities and Art Colleges and is based at the University of Abertay Dundee, which runs the competition in partnership with Scottish Enterprise Tayside and Dundee City Council. Judged by a panel of leading industry experts, Dare provides a unique working experience and is hailed by games industry bible, Develop Magazine, as "the closest you can get to commercial game development."

Supported by some of the biggest names in the games industry, Dare goes global for 2005, with teams from across the UK entering for the first time. With additional support from the Scottish Executive, eight scholarship places will be awarded to talented programming or computer art graduates from Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand.

The Northern Ireland team is supported by Belfast City Council and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). This team will join the Scottish, Irish, Yorkshire and Midlands teams, as well as the international Dare scholars taking part in Dare 2005.

"Dare to be Digital is the most exciting opportunity for students wishing to make a creative or technical impact on the digital industry" says Mark Fenwick, NESTA's Business Support Manager. "The industry takes this initiative very seriously, and I was deeply impressed by the end products."

Councillor Chris McGimpsey, Chairman of Belfast City Council's Economic Development Sub-Committee comments: "This is the first time a team from Belfast will participate in Dare to Be Digital. It is an exciting opportunity to showcase local talent in the creative sector at an international level. Belfast City Council recognises that the creative industries is a major growth sector and contributor to wealth in the economy and initiatives such as this will provide a unique platform to harness individual talent, develop business ideas and further enhance the development of this exciting sector."

Eight teams made up of five students are asked to submit a concept for a new and original computer game or educational entertainment product. Judges will be looking for the most creative ideas and those that fulfil the greatest market potential. Receiving help from industry specialists and a project fee of £1700, teams who make it through will have only 10 weeks to present a finished digital prototype and business sales document which can be pitched to investors.

Predicted as having "a major impact on the global games industry in the near future", by Richard Leinfellner, VP of Production at Electronic Arts, Dare to be Digital has produced a long line of graduates who are now working for some of the top names in the Electronic Entertainment industry, including EA, Lionhead Studios, Visual Sciences and Real Time Worlds.

Due to Dare's rising profile in the industry over the last four years and with its growing reputation for producing some of the brightest talent entering the games sector, the competition receives invaluable support from sponsors, Microsoft, NESTA, BBC Scotland Interactive and NCR - all of whom remain as sponsors for 2005.

The closing date for applications is Monday 18th April 2005. Interviews will be held Wednesday 4th May 2005. The competition takes place from June 13th to August 19th at the University of Abertay Dundee.

Contact:

Dare to be Digital

Jackie Mckenzie,

Dare to be Digital Project Manager

T:01382 308920

M:- 07813951082

E: j.mckenzie@abertay.ac.uk

Press

Stephanie Robertson

T: 01333 451 122

M: 07919 447 231

E: stephanie@crail.sol.co.uk

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GamesIndustry International is the world's leading games industry website, incorporating GamesIndustry.biz and IndustryGamers.com.

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