Dundee calling

Dundee calling

By Dr Louis Natanson

July 26th 2011 at 10:30AM

Dare to be Digital is returning to the famous Scottish city

What makes the games industry so exciting? Is it the creative rush, the indie underdog spirit, the thrill of a team working flat-out to launch their great ideas to the world? All of the above. And they’ll all be on show to you in the heart of Dundee this August.

Dare to be Digital has grown from a small game development contest set up by the University of Abertay Dundee over a decade ago to a major international event, drawing exceptional young developers to Dundee each year for an intense nine weeks of development, industry mentoring, and public testing at the free ProtoPlay event.

ProtoPlay was always held in Edinburgh, alongside the Fringe and the main International Festival, but Dare and ProtoPlay have both grown and grown. More teams, more events, much more to see. This year we decided – it’s time to come home.

Dare ProtoPlay will take over Dundee city centre from Friday, August 12th to Sunday, August 14th, with all 15 games available to play, a professional gamer tournament run on high-end Intel machines, game jams for pros and kids, and you, the development community, getting the first chance to spot the up-and-coming young talent and their new game ideas.

At the end of the weekend one team takes the Intel Visual Adrenaline award for best graphics, while three teams are picked as nominees for the unique BAFTA ‘Ones to Watch’ award, receiving instant industry attention. There’s a lot to play for.

WHO DARES WINS

Blitz Games Studios is one of many companies that have supported Dare for years, and given the young developers invaluable advice. One year it even hired an entire team straight from Dare. Kim Blake from Blitz sees ProtoPlay as “a fantastic showcase of up-and-coming talent”.

“The ProtoPlay event itself is immensely exciting,” says Blake. “We get to see all the games that we’ve helped mentor, and even more importantly we get to see the public playing those games and giving immediate, first-hand feedback to the teams. It’s a really great atmosphere.”

Blitz is also among the many companies putting their wares on show at ProtoPlay – including a showcase of the fantastic Blitz1UP programme which offers help and support to independent developers, as well as introducing their new indie-only portal IndieCity.com.

Dundee outfits Cobra Mobile, Outplay Entertainment and Tag Games are also taking part in the industry showcase alongside legendary developers Crytek and Sony, bringing their new ideas direct to the development community and the public.

RAW TALENT

For new Dundee studio Outplay Entertainment, a mobile and social gaming company with big ambitions, the talent coming out of Abertay University and Dare to be Digital was a major reason brothers Doug and Richard Hare came back to Dundee from the US.

“ProtoPlay is a celebration of creativity and a showcase for new talent. It puts the teams competing in the whole Dare process face-to-face with the public and lets them see the reactions – good and bad – to their games and the design choices they agonised over,” Richard says.

“It’s a unique and incredibly valuable experience for new developers. It also creates a public platform for the new generation of gaming talent which can only be beneficial to developers and players alike.”

Also on show are the best entrants to the Wacom Dare with Bamboo graphics competition, and the storyboard art contest we’re running with Beano and Dandy publisher DC Thomson. There’ll also be games industry talks, aimed both at professionals and the public.

JOIN IN

Dundee has an incredible games community, which we all know has weathered some challenging times. From the early days of DMA Design through to an incredible rush of new recent openings, we know there’s something special happening here.

And ProtoPlay is always a great opportunity to meet up with old friends, hear what they’re currently working on, push them to reveal a secret or two (we’ve certainly heard a few good ones over the years) and just enjoy seeing what the next generation of young developers can already teach us.

Come along in August and see it all for yourself. We can’t wait.