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A unique international computer games competition kicks off in Dundee this morning (Monday 13th June 2005), as 48 students from across the globe arrive in the city to prepare for a ten week battle where competitors go head to head in a bid to become the future stars of the industry.

Dare to be Digital 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.

The eight teams from across the UK and Ireland to make it through to the prestigious Dare to be Digital competition submitted a concept for a new and original computer game or educational entertainment product. Judges were not only looking for the most creative ideas, but those that fulfilled the greatest market potential. Receiving help from industry specialists and a project fee of £1700, the teams will have just over two months to present a finished digital prototype and business sales document which can be pitched to investors.

Due to the growing international profile of Dare in the games community, the competition goes global for 2005, with the teams joined by a further eight scholarship students from Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand - supported by funding from the Scottish Executive as part of its "Fresh Talent" initiative.

Scottish Enterprise Tayside chief executive Shona Cormack commented: "'Dare To Be Digital' is now firmly established as the premier competition which brings together the up and coming global talents of tomorrow in the creative industries. Given the growth and vibrancy of the creative industries in Tayside, it is fitting that year on year this competition attracts more competitors from overseas to compete in Dundee."

Teams taking part in Dare 2005 are 'Switched on Entertainment' from Sheffield, Hallam and Leeds Metropolitan, 'Team Play' from Wolverhampton, 'Silver Tongue Software' from North West Institute of Further and Higher Education, Northern Ireland, 'RacXing' from Ballyfermont College of Higher Education and Dundalk Institute of Technology, 'Missing Link' from the University of Abertay, 'Evil Machines' from Glasgow Caledonian and Glasgow School of Art 'Gene Therapy' from the University of Abertay and 'The Frozen North' from Abertay and Duncan of Jordanstone.

A record number of students entered Dare to be Digital 2005, with 39 teams prepared to fight it out in a games competition hailed by industry bible, Develop, as "the closest you can get to commercial game development."

"Dare to be Digital is now a firm fixture on the Abertay calendar and every year brings yet more evidence of its increasing significance to the worldwide games industry" said Professor Bernard King, Principle and Vice Chancellor of Abertay. "Our students, trained in the culture of innovation, enterprise and creativity, that we are pioneering, have always given a good account of themselves in the competition, but it is pleasing to see students from an increasing number of other institutions challenging hard to keep the Abertay teams on their mettle."

New sponsors on board for 2005 include Electronic Arts and Develop - the international trade publication for creators of interactive entertainment software. With its increasing reputation for producing some of the most promising talent entering the games sector, the competition continues to receive invaluable support from, Microsoft, NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), BBC Scotland Interactive and NCR.

The teams - which will work from Dundee and have access to the cutting edge facilities at Abertay University - will be paid on a weekly basis and supported by experienced industry specialists, who will offer technical, creative and business advice, mentors who are inaccessible to any student outside the Dare project.

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.

The competition takes place from June 13th to August 19th 2005.

Stephanie Robertson

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