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Neverwinter Nights helping pupils…

Computer firm 'Atari' along with development studios 'BioWare' are answering back critics of all that is wrong with computer & video games by boosting the quality of education through West Nottinghamshire College's revolutionary 'Neverwinter Nights' project.

Many students lack the motivation to complete conventional paper based assignments. Gathering evidence for qualifications such as Key Skills and Wider Key Skills has been very difficult.

It has long been noted that learners enjoy playing computer games so Bioware and Atari's 'Neverwinter Nights' game has been used to produce a tailor-made games scenario directly linked to qualifications.

The multi-national company 'Atari' and developers 'BioWare' has taken the unusual step of teaming up with a further education college in Nottinghamshire to achieve a common goal of improving national standards in education and achievement. Both parties will pool their expertise and resources to fulfill this purpose using the commercialization of the College's Neverwinter Nights program as the catalyst.

Mansfield based West Nottinghamshire College is a large general further education college with 25,000 students of whom 2,700 are full-time. Its vision is 'together we can invent the future for learning', a vision which the exceptional Neverwinter Nights project is certainly living up to!

The project is designed to focus the energies of learners on achieving their goals by making learning exciting and interactive. It has proved to be a massive success within the College, with the number of students achieving a pass in application of number has increased from 90% in 2003 to 100% this year, since the introduction of the game.

Already, it has achieved national recognition from the Association of Colleges, who awarded the initiative with the 2004/05 Becta Beacon Award for The Effective Use of Information Learning Technology to Enhance Teaching and Support Learning. One of the judges commenting: "It was a joy to see the innovative approach to learning which West Notts College has developed. This project is imaginative, innovative, creative and exciting."

And thanks to the backing of Atari & Bioware, schools and colleges up and down the country will soon be able to have a slice of the Neverwinter success, when later this year the revolutionary project is set to be produced and distributed to education institutions throughout the country.

1. History of the project

In 2002, a new product called 'Neverwinter Nights' was launched by the software house 'Bioware', a world leader in computer games. That year 'Neverwinter Nights' became the 2nd most searched for word on the Internet, proving that the game had massive and wide-ranging appeal.

A team of enthusiasts at West Nottinghamshire College were brought together to investigate the possibilities of delivering learning through these new worlds the game offered. They prototyped a scenario that allowed learners to interact in a fantasy setting involving team working and problem solving situations. The prototype was designed to be used for reinforcement and evidence generation in a 'fun' environment. This addresses one of the main problems associated with Key Skills, namely the lack of enthusiasm learners' show when completing their portfolio of evidence.

During the course of 2003/4 the scenarios for Basic Skills, Application of Number and Communications level 1 and were Beta tested with appropriate groups of learners. Their feedback was collected and used to refocus the development of these products and inspire other lines of development.

2. A sample of student feedback

NWN "Pretty Cool Game" - Played at home and online in free time.

NWN "gets you more interested" in the subject at hand.

Found Application of Number preferable to text based possibility.

Prefer NWN over text based learning

About Neverwinter Nights & Neverwinter Nights 2:

The Neverwinter Nights franchise has sold more than two million copies worldwide, is translated into ten languages, sold in more than 40 countries, and features one of the largest and most active fan communities in all of gaming at www.bioware.com. To date, fans of the franchise, which includes Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide and Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, have created nearly 4,000 modifications to the original game using the award-winning BioWare Aurora Toolset, the groundbreaking software included with the full game that allows players to create their own universes, quests and storylines.

Neverwinter Nights 2 will be developed by Obsidian Entertainment, founded by Feargus Urquhart, who, as the President of Black Isle Studios, was responsible for the publishing of the Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series and the development of the Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment franchises, both powered by BioWare Engine Technology, as well as overseeing the creation and development of the Fallout series. BioWare will provide tools, technology, and game assets from the original Neverwinter Nights as well as lend creative input and oversee the development process.

Neverwinter Nights 2 is scheduled for release in 2006. More information about Neverwinter Nights 2 can be found on the Atari website at www.atari.com/nwn2, which includes user forums, project news, development updates and more.

About Obsidian Entertainment

Obsidian Entertainment is a premier software development company passionately dedicated to creating high quality, next generation role-playing games for PC and console systems. Obsidian is currently developing Star Wars® Knights of the Old Republic® II: The Sith LordsTM (to be published by LucasArts) for the PC and Xbox. More information about Obsidian Entertainment can be found online at www.obsidianent.com.

About BioWare

BioWare Corp. is an electronic entertainment company that develops computer and console games. BioWare's developers are currently hard at work on Jade EmpireTM, a BioWare-created intellectual property to be published by Microsoft for the Xbox; and Dragon AgeTM, a PC RPG set in a brand new world created and owned by BioWare. BioWare is also developing an unannounced title based on yet another BioWare-created intellectual property plus several other projects internally and also other projects through partnerships with other developers. Star Wars:® Knights of the Old Republic,TM released July 18, 2003 for the Xbox and November 18, 2003 for PC, is currently enjoying critical praise and great commercial success with its opening weekend launch ending with Microsoft proclaiming the title as the fastest-selling Xbox game in history. Neverwinter NightsTM: Hordes of the Underdark, the second official expansion for the critically acclaimed PC role-playing game Neverwinter Nights, was released on December 2, 2003, and has enjoyed critical and commercial success. Previously published projects include: the award-winning Neverwinter Nights, the genre-defining Baldur's Gate role playing game series for the PC, MDKTM2 for Dreamcast and PC, MDKTM2: Armageddon for PlayStation®2 and Shattered SteelTM. Additional BioWare information can be found online at www.bioware.com.

About Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS), is a worldwide leader in the trading card game and tabletop role-playing game categories, and a leading developer and publisher of game-based entertainment products. The company holds an exclusive patent on trading card games and their method of play (TCGs) and produces one of the world's best-selling TCGs, Magic: The Gathering, as well as the celebrated Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Publisher of adventure games, family card and board games, and electronic media products, Wizards of the Coast is also one of the world's premier book publishers of fantasy series fiction whose novels have made numerous appearances on The New York Times best-seller list and have sold millions of copies worldwide. For more information, visit the Wizards of the Coast website at wizards.com.

Forgotten Realms, Dungeons & Dragons, Neverwinter Nights and Magic the Gathering are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast in the USA and other countries.

About Hasbro, Inc.

Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER, and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

About Infogrames Entertainment and Atari:

Infogrames Entertainment (IESA), the parent company of the Atari Group, is listed on the Paris Euronext stock exchange (ISIN code: FR-0000052573) and has two principal subsidiaries: Atari Europe, a privately-held company, and Atari, Inc., a United States corporation listed on NASDAQ (ATAR).

The Atari Group is a major international producer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment software for all market segments and in all existing game formats (Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony) and on CD-ROM for PC. Its games are sold in more than 60 countries.

The Atari Group's extensive catalogue of popular games is based on original franchises (Driver, Alone in the Dark, V-Rally, Unreal Tournament, Test Drive, Roller Coaster Tycoon, etc.) and international licenses (Mission Impossible from Paramount, Men In Black, Superman, Matrix, Terminator and Dragon Ball Z).

For more information: http://www.atari.com

For more information regarding the college,

Helena Clay, Marketing

Tel: 01623 627191 ext. 2237

Fore more information regarding the Neverwinter Nights series,

Lee Kirton - Head of UK PR

Tel: 0208 222 9710

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