DATE OF ISSUE: MONDAY 1ST NOVEMBER 2004
Some of the hottest new talent in the games industry, which has sprung out of the unique games competition, Dare to be Digital, based at the University of Abertay, Dundee, has been snapped up by a number of the country's leading games companies.
Dare is predicted as having "a major impact on the global games industry in the near future" by Richard Leinfellner, of Electronic Arts (EA), which took on members from last year's winning teams and is picking up three more in 2004. Jawad Ahmed, from Just Add Water, Barry Moore, from Nano Agents and Ian Bell, from Fizzle, joined the global games giant last month.
Meanwhile, Dare, which finished at the end of August, has resulted in leading Scottish games firm, Visual Sciences, taking on two members from the Just Add Water team, Dami Iannetta and Edmund Kapusniak - winners of the Rare prize for Technical Excellence.
Managing Director of Visual Sciences, Russell Kay, comments: "Talent plays a key role in the games sector and with Dare to be Digital on our doorstep we have access to some of the brightest students entering the industry.
"One of the biggest problems for an employer is getting students with the necessary business experience and Dare actively addresses this problem, bridging the gap from the academic sector to the working environment."
Team leader of City Scrawlaz - winner of Product with Greatest Creativity - Sally Greig and fellow team member, Anthony McKale, are currently working with BBCi in Glasgow, while Blair Harrower has joined brand design firm, Brand Ambassadors.
Dare, which is now seen as a unique springboard into the UK's billion pound games industry, takes place over a ten week period, as teams battle it out for a prize fund of £7000, as well as follow up-support to develop their prototype to commercial reality. In 2004 seven teams made it through - 27 in total entered - having to submit a concept for a new and original computer game or educational entertainment product, including a finished digital prototype and business sales document which can be pitched to investors.
The three winning teams are also given the opportunity to showcase their products alongside the biggest names in computer games, by the organizers of Europe's leading trade event for the interactive entertainment industry, ECTS, by organizers CMPi.
As testament to the growing importance of Dare, Minister for Finance Andy Kerr, announced new Scottish Executive funding to help the competition go global, with around £35,000 enabling South Asian students to join Dare 2005. This is part of the Executive's Fresh Talent initiative, which aims to encourage more people to come to Scotland to live, work or study.
Teams have access to cutting edge facilities at Abertay University, which runs the competition in partnership with Scottish Enterprise Tayside and Dundee City Council.
Due to Dare's rising profile in the industry and the high level of excellence generated over the last three years, the competition has received invaluable support from sponsors, Microsoft, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), BBC Scotland Interactive and NCR.
Launched in 2000, the Dare competition allows teams to display their skills in front of some of the country's most influential games figures and is open to students across Scotland. This year, Dare welcomed students from Ireland, with a team from DCU and Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology, which made it through the Irish heat, co-ordinated by The Digital Hub in Dublin.
The students were 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.
Dare to be Digital
Dare to be Digital Project Manager
T: 01333 451 122
M: 07919 447 231
Notes To Editors:
- Dare to be Digital
The project is run and funded by partners the University of Abertay Dundee, Scottish Enterprise Tayside and Dundee City Council operating as 'Dare to Be Digital', a registered Scottish Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee with no share capital. In 2004 the Dare project was sponsored by Microsoft, NESTA, BBC Scotland Interactive and NCR. www.daretobedigital.com
- The University of Abertay Dundee
The University of Abertay Dundee Abertay was the first university in the world to run taught courses in games programming (BSc and MSc), and games creativity and artwork (BA). Students can study in Japan, America or in industry as part of their courses. Buoyed by the strength of the computer games industry, the courses attract some of the most-highly qualified students in the country, and have a 20% application acceptance rate. Abertay's best-known graduate in this field is David Jones, CEO of Real Time Worlds and creator via DMA of (Grand Theft Auto, Silicon Valley, Lemmings) based in Dundee. The University also works closely with Visual Sciences (F1'98), VIS entertainment (Earthworm Jim 3D, State of Emergency) and other members of the Scottish games community.
The School of Computing offers a wide range of leading degree courses including: the MSc in Computer Games technology; BSc (Hons) in Computer Games Technology, with options in Marketing and Japanese; and BA (Hons) in Computer Arts. The University has also established IC CAVE, Europe's first university research centre dedicated to computer games and virtual entertainment. Mobile and WAP technology is a key area of interest for IC CAVE, which works closely with the leading companies in the field, both mobile phone manufacturers and games/content providers.
Embreonix is the University of Abertay's graduate incubator programme, which has been established to support its students/graduates to establish commercial companies. The Embreonix programme currently has 2 incubators with a full support programme for young companies.
- BBC Scotland Interactive
BBC Scotland Interactive has been producing award-winning websites for six years. Covering all genres from sport to comedy, kids and education to history, the unit comprises over forty producers, designers, coders and developers. In the last few years, BBC Scotland Interactive has developed an expertise in online games development and production. The unit is also making moves into enhanced and interactive television. www.bbc.co.uk/scotland
- About Microsoft Game Studios
Microsoft Game Studios is a leading worldwide publisher and developer of games for the Windows PC gaming, Xbox video game system and online platforms. Comprising a network of top developers, Microsoft Game Studios is committed to creating innovative and diverse game portfolios for the PC (http://www.microsoft.com/games/), including such franchises as "Age of Empires ," "Flight Simulator" and "Zoo Tycoon"; Xbox (http://www.xbox.com/), including such franchises as "Halo," "Project Gotham Racing " and "NFL Fever"; and Zone.com (http://www.zone.com/), the official games channel for the MSN® network and home to such hits as "Bejeweled" and "OutSmart ."
- About Xbox
Xbox (http://www.xbox.com/) is Microsoft's future-generation video game system that delivers never before seen gameplay experiences. With more than three times the graphics performance of other game consoles, top-quality DVD playback, Dolby 5.1 surround sound to make games and movies come alive, and a hard disc that opens up new kinds of gameplay, Xbox is the video game system that delivers more of what gamers want. Xbox is available Friday, 27th August in Europe for an estimated street price of €149.99/£99.99.
- Dundee City Council
Dundee City Council's Company Development and Inward Investment team provides local companies with a single point of access to a range of integrated services and business support. Working with local partners we provide access to local and national schemes of assistance, support to secure project funding, preparation of grant applications and also deliver a range of workshops and seminar programmes aimed for key industry sectors. Dundee is recognised as an international centre of excellence for digital media with a rapidly expanding cluster of businesses, organisations and individuals engaged in digital media and the creative industries. Continuous development of talent and skills is essential for the growth of the sector locally and "Dare to be Digital"' acts as a catalyst to bring together local universities, colleges of further education and local expertise to cultivate young talent. Dundee City Council recognises the importance of the digital media sector to the local economy and values the role that "Dare" plays in promoting local talent and capabilities. Dundee City Council will continue to work with partner organisations to provide support to the sector through projects such as "Dare" and through direct assistance to local companies.
For further information
Contact Tel: (01382) 434950
Fax: ( 01382) 434650
NCR Corporation is a leading global technology company helping businesses build stronger relationships with their customers. NCR's ATMs, retail systems, Teradata® data warehouses and IT services provide Relationship TechnologyTM solutions that maximize the value of customer interactions. Based in Dayton, Ohio, NCR (www.ncr.com) employs approximately 29,000 people worldwide.
- Scottish Enterprise Tayside
Scottish Enterprise is the main economic development agency for Scotland covering 93 per cent of the population from Grampian to the Borders. The Scottish Enterprise Network consists of Scottish Enterprise and 12 Local Enterprise Companies. Working in partnership with the private and public sectors the Network aims to build more and better businesses, to develop the skills and knowledge of Scottish people, and to encourage innovation to make Scottish business internationally competitive. Currently more than 100,000 people are employed in the Creative Industries in Scotland, which boasts an annual turnover of £5 billion. The scope of the sector includes computer games, radio and television, new media, film, music production, design, publishing, architecture, advertising, arts and cultural industries. Scottish Enterprise Tayside is investing £4 million over four years to grow and support the region's Creative Industries sector which employs over 1500 people in Tayside and boasts an annual turnover of over £100 million.
NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) was established by Act of Parliament in 1998 to pioneer ways of supporting and promoting talent, innovation and creativity in science, technology and the arts. NESTA's income initially came from the interest on an endowment of £200 million from National Lottery funds. In February 2003, NESTA received an additional £50 million bringing the endowment up to £250 million and an extra £45 million to use as revenue expenditure until 2006 (£15 million a year from 2003). NESTA plans to spend over £20 million a year on UK creativity and innovation. Since May 2000, NESTA has spent over £40 million on 423 awards. NESTA has a dedicated Media Room on its web site where news releases like this are easily available and where journalists can subscribe to receive any future releases. Other information, including high-resolution images to download and Press Office contact details, are also available at www.nesta.org.uk/mediaroom