Don't write off Dundee developers just yet

Don't write off Dundee developers just yet
Michael French

By Michael French

August 22nd 2010 at 11:23PM

Channel 4 invests £1m in Tag and Dynamo to make new games; Scottish games documentary in the works, too

Last week's sad news that Dundee based studios Realtime Worlds and Cohort had cut their staff numbers might only just be a temporary set-back for the Scottish games cluster.

Channel 4 plans to invest over £1m in the region with deals for local studios to develop new games based on its TV programs.

It has also commissioned a TV series about games development to be made in the Scottish city.

According to a report in the Scotland Herald, mobile specialist Tag Games has been signed to create apps and games based around the TV shows Come Dine With Me and Peep Show.

Meanwhile, Dynamo Games has been commissioned to create a Facebook game, Beauty Town "which will draw upon themes and advice offered in Channel 4 lifestyle shows such as Gok Wan’s How To Look Good Naked".

Plus     TV production company Headlight Scotland is set to produce a three-part television series exploring the Dundee games sector.

It's a real statement of intent for the Dundee games cluster, which was been under a cloud since Realtime Worlds went into administration last week - making 150 jobs redundant - and Cohort admitted it was shedding half its staff (almost 30) days later.

The three deals have a combined value of £1m - and it means 10 per cent of Channel 4’s digital budget has been spent in Dundee alone this year.

The projects may be separate from the highly regarded (and Develop Award-winning) efforts of Channel 4 Education to commission games like The Curfew and Privates from indies in the UK, but are part of the same spirit to spend resources outside of traditional TV and with cutting-edge areas like interactive entertainment.

“It is a timely investment,” said Ian Mackenzie, media project manager for Channel 4 Creative Diversity, the division which has commissioned the Dundee projects.

“This is a very positive counter point to the bad news of Realtime Worlds. This investment is one example of people recognising the talent that is in Dundee.”

Paul Farley, head of Tag Games, added: “Losing Realtime Worlds is definitely going to have an impact. Ultimately we are going to lose a lot of talented people from Dundee. Realtime Worlds is referred to as the jewel in the crown, but it is just one part of what is going on here. In some ways the spotlight coming off Realtime will now come on to companies like Tag or Dynamo, who are much smaller, part of the next generation of games companies.”

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop also commented, saying: “The announcement of new commissions from Channel 4 is clearly good news for the sector as a whole and will provide some confidence to those working in Dundee-based companies.”