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Who Dares Wins


The winners of the 2005 Dare to be Digital competition, hailed as the best 'proving ground for the interactive entertainment sector', have been announced at a special awards ceremony in Dundee.

The three main prizes, each worth £2000, have been won by The Frozen North's, Primary Steps, for 'Product with Greatest Market Potential'; Missing Link's, Coda Chain, for 'Product with Greatest Innovation and Creativity' and Evil Machines', Corporate Warfare, for the 'Technical Excellence Prize'. An additional prize of £500 went to Pitipong Guntawong, from Thailand, for Best International Scholar.

Through the use of a dance mat, and colourful 3D characters, Primary Steps, combines learning, exercise and fun, supporting the revolutionary literacy teaching method, 'Synthetic Phonics'. Coda Chain is a madcap action-arcade game in which the player controls an ever-expanding chain of characters, with each connected individual altering the chain's collective capabilities as they escape from a hazardous city environment. Evil Machines can be played from a PC or mobile phone, allowing up to five players to run their own evil corporations and engage in tactical combat with an additional messaging system to arrange alliances and backstabbing treachery.

'Best Programmer', went to Kai Chen from China, 'Best Artist', to Nancy Lai from Dundee, and 'Best Team Leader', Andy Hynes, from Glasgow, who will each receive an Xbox, donated by Microsoft

In just ten weeks and with prizes of up to £2000, the competition has seen eight teams of students produce prototype games ready to pitch to investors. The games have already seen some success, showcasing last week in front of thousands of eager games fans at the Edinburgh International Entertainment Festival's 'Go Play Games!' - the UK's largest interactive expo dedicated to gaming.

Dare judge and master of ceremonies at the awards - which took place at the University of Abertay's student center yesterday - is Electronic Arts', Executive Producer & Vice President, Richard Leinfellner, who continues to be one of Dare's strongest supporters. "It has been great to work with Dare for the third year running" he says, " I am continually impressed with the quality of talent this innovative & unique experience manages to attract. It is by far the best pre-employment proving ground for the interactive entertainment sector."

The panel of judges stretch from across the industry, including: Jon Jordan, Technology Editor, Develop magazine; Adrian Curry, Account Manager, Microsoft Xbox; Michael Bedward, Business Support Manager, Creative Pioneer Programme at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA); Stephen Donelly, Senior Designer, BBC Scotland Interactive; Stephen McFarlane, Rare; Brandon Smith, Senior Producer, Sega; Mark Grossi, Chief Technology Officer, NCR; Mark Ettle, Managing Director, Cobra Mobile, and Ian Shaw, Chief Technology Officer, Electronic Arts

The eight teams - which worked from Dundee and had access to the cutting edge facilities at Abertay University - 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. The students received help from industry specialists and a project fee of £1700.

The range of projects being undertaken by students, included - multiplayer/online, traditional interactive, mobile, first person shooter, action arcade, 3rd person puzzle based, narrative-led and music driven fantasy games.

Meanwhile, selected students will also get the opportunity to join the 'EA Academy' at its European Studios in Surrey, with the chance to work with an EA development team on a live game, with accommodation and a salary funded by EA.

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.

2005 brought additional funding from the Scottish Executive, as part of its 'Fresh Talent' initiative, enabling the unique games competition to become an international player, with teams from across the UK and Ireland joined by a further eight scholarship students from Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand.

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, BBC Scotland Interactive and NCR. New sponsors on board for 2005 include Electronic Arts and Develop - the international trade publication for creators of interactive entertainment software.

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