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Dare Students Pick Up New Edinburgh Games Award


A team of students taking part in the unique international games competition, Dare to be Digital, has been picked out by some of the biggest names in games, to receive a special award at this week's Edinburgh International Entertainment Festival (EIEF)

Team, Gene Therapy, landed the 'Develop - Most Promising New Concept' award for its game 'Fishisms', where you can buy, breed and customize fish, as part of your very own digital aquarium. Jon Jordan, from the industry's trade magazine, Develop, will hand over the award this morning in front of games leaders behind the world's biggest selling titles, who are attending EIEF - regarded by many as the games sector's very own Cannes.

The judging panel included industry heavyweights, Ian Livingstone, Creative Director of Eidos, Charles Cecil, Managing Director of Revolution Software, audio specialist, John Broomhall of Broomhall Projects Ltd, Jonathan Smith, Development Director of Giant Entertainment and Jon Jordan, Technology Editor, Develop magazine. Products were assessed as to whether they were creative or unique, had market potential, were ground breaking and had promise under genuine commercial circumstances.

"It was fantastic to see creativity and innovation in full flow from these enthusiastic young development teams", said the creator of Lara Croft, Ian Livingstone. "Their vision and execution of ideas proves that great new talent is set to join the gaming industry."

Organisers of EIEF gave all eight teams taking part in Dare 2005, the chance to showcase their products to thousands of people attending the entertainment festival's 'Go Play Games!' - the UK's largest interactive expo dedicated to gaming - held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Described by industry bible, Develop, as "the closest you can get to commercial game development", Dare to be Digital draws to a close on August 18th where a special awards ceremony will be held in Dundee, to announce the winners. The competition is 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.

Teams to make it through to Dare 2005, 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 have ten weeks to present a finished digital prototype and business sales document which can be pitched to investors.

An additional £35,000 has come from the Scottish Executive, as part of its 'Fresh Talent' initiative, which has enabled Dare to become an international player for 2005, with teams from across the UK and Ireland now joined by a further eight scholarship students from Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Up for grabs next week are the three main prizes, each worth £2000, for 'Product with Greatest Market Potential', 'Product with Greatest Innovation and Creativity' and the 'Technical Excellence Prize'. An additional prize of £500 will go to the 'Best International Scholar'. 'Best Programmer', 'Best Artist' and 'Best Team Leader', will each receive an Xbox, donated by Microsoft.

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

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.


Stephanie Robertson

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