Games contest Dare to be Digital attracts best of Scotland's gamers
University of Abertay comp is breeding ground for games industry talent
The University of Abertay’s Dare to be Digital competition for student games developers is now a world leader in its field. Henry Northmore finds out more
Dare to be Digital, now entering its eleventh year, has become the breeding ground for Scotland’s games industry talent. Hosted by the University of Abertay, Dundee, 15 teams of five are already feverishly programming a working videogame before the judging process in August.
‘It’s the leading international talent competition for aspiring game developers,’ explains Paul Durrant, director of business development at Abertay. ‘The only way you can measure their talent is when you’re actually working in a true interdisciplinary situation. So Dare provides a hothouse for ten weeks to create a prototype game.’
‘The whole point is that Dare is a competition in an environment that’s as close to being the games industry as possible,’ adds Matthew Bett, a games lecturer at Abertay, and a former Dare to be Digital competitor himself.
This wealth of talent bleeds though into the Scottish games industry. ‘Local industry will directly recruit from Dare to be Digital,’ notes Bett. ‘Which is terrific for them and gives the games industry a live test, they can watch people in action, through mentoring and masterclasses.’
Some of the biggest names in videogames are involved, with representatives from Blitz Games Studios, Crytek UK, Rare, Rockstar North, Sony and more getting directly involved via Dare’s Developer Accord. ‘Dare provides an important platform for fostering and bringing on new talent to the videogames industry. Rockstar is honoured to once again lend its support and provide mentoring to this year’s competitors,’ says Andrew Semple, studio director at Rockstar North. A point of view echoed by Karl Hilton, Managing Director of Crytek UK: ‘We are very excited to see so much enthusiasm and talent. Dare to be Digital is a great platform for entrants to develop and show their skills and to interact with the UK videogames industry.’
While there will always be a core of students from Abertay, the competition is now truly international, with team members drawn from 16 different universities across the UK, Ireland, China, Denmark and India. ‘Scotland is the host for something that’s an international event and I think that’s why it’s backed by Events Scotland this year,’ says Durrant, ‘because they see it has potential to grow and put Scotland on the map.’
‘Everyone I know who went though Dare is now employed in high level companies not only locally but in Japan, California, all over the world,’ adds Bett.
It’s not just an industry event with the public getting a chance to playtest the results at Protoplay (12-14 August at the Caird Hall, Dundee). ‘At the end of the day, whatever an expert says, the public have the last vote,’ explains Bett. ‘At some point you’re going to want to start charging and you need to make sure that it’s something relevant that people actually want.’