If you’re reading this, Dare will probably be in full swing already. if you’re yet to go though, allow me to get you in the mood by sharing what makes this year’s even so important.
This is the third Protoplay I’ve attended in person. I first found out about it almost four years ago, when one of the hundreds of promotional postcards from the event made it to my Prestwick letterbox all the way from an old school friend who moved to Edinburgh.
It’s this sort of Hogwartian moment that made me think I might be good at this computer game thingy-majig as well, and began a whole sort of “life-pivot” that was bound for Dundee.
Protoplay has shaken off it’s cuteness in my opinion. No longer can a victor take comfort in simply making the most complete looking game, over the past couple of years, we’ve seen games that really do show critical promise. It’s a much more mature event this year; in the sense that the one-hit sponsor oriented gimmicks have been left out of the weekend programme, and replaced with a much more solid event.
Cynics might say it’s “safe” this year. There aren’t any international pro-gamer tournaments. There aren’t any two day game jams with rooms of perspiring long haired C programmers (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) And there isn’t really as much of a visible presence of big sponsors trying to plaster themselves over the show.
Dare to be More
If there were an official theme of this year’s Dare event, I’d say it would be “sustainability.” From a range of sub-events run adjacent to the original BAFTA challenge, including the Virgin 100 and Dare+ masterclass, to Channel 4’s offering of a £25k prize to a selected Dare team; what goes on at this year’s event will have a ripple effect beyond the lunch time work talk the following Monday.
Previously, releases of fully developed Dare titles were few, and very far between – yet judges still considered “commercial viability” as a key judging area, hoping a winning team might be able to procure a finished product from their backsides… This year’s Dare is a heck of a lot more logical, more grown up, and aware of the changing climate and trends in the games industry.
You won’t just see new games, but new companies will form out of the event. I’ve just reached the end of what’s possibly been one of the most grueling months of my little life. The first ever Dare+ course challenges 20 individuals to build a games business from the ground up. That’s four weeks of intense business lectures, planning and investment pitching, with contributions from what must be well over a dozen professionals and companies as mentors.
It’s coordinated by Dynamo Games veteran Brian McNicoll (famous for games such as Championship Manager, The Crystal Maze, Championship Manager and Championship Manager) and funded by Creative Scotland. Unlike Dare Protoplay, Dare+ is all about the business end. It’s already assumed candidates have what it takes to make their game idea a success, and just to make sure, they’ve also got to prepare a publicly presentable prototype. It’s all business during the day, and even more business during the night. It’s the 10 week Protoplay experience on steroids, amped with heavy injections of what it takes to get a business off the ground and flying. It’s been amazing.
To slap even more on top of the traditional programme. Dare Indie fest gives developers and studios in Scotland access to what’s probably the most public facing games event in the UK (Europe) Some familiar faces, including some new ones will be exhibiting their works alongside Dare teams. in fact, the BAFTA teams have been pushed out of the Caird Hall into a giant marquee, and the space used indoors is reserved for the massive Indie showcase and conference.
I caught up with Colin Riley (Codeplay) who came not on behalf of his employer, but to show off his hobby project Gears of Glory, which I obviously gave a test drive…
“You know what it’s missing?”
“Oh yeah! I can do that, that’s easy, here…”
That right there is probably the most awesome of indie moments: No corporate cover-up shenanigans, no excuses, no bs. Just a guy, willing to dive right into the code of a game he’s about to show off to thousands of people, and adding new features on the fly. Awesome. They should really make a movie about this sort of stuff.
We also got a little exclusive peak of a certain unannounced thing from a certain Dundee based company. Consider this a Scottishgames.net exclusive:
Let the Show Begin
There will be more on the teams and stall owners over the weekend. Maybe I’m bias, but I think you’ll find something quite satisfying at this year’s event. Whether it come from a talk at the paid entry Indie fest, voting for the next One To Watch, or seeing what awesome creative people are doing to give you games right in your own back garden.