At 5pm on Sunday the 11th of August, the 2013 Dare to be Digital ProtoPlay event drew to a close. The four day even in central Dundee, pulled in a record breaking crowd of 13,000 players, gamers, developers, designers, stars, ministers, legends and families.
Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture & External Affairs opened the whole event, alongside official games legend, Ian Livingstone (co -founder of Games Workshop, author of the Fighting Fantasy books, Life president of Eidos and ‘father of Lara Croft’).
ProtoPlay offers the public a chance to play the games created over the previous nine weeks by the 15 teams in the Dare to be Digital competition. Dare is a unique competition, which is recognised by the global games industry as one of the most valuable and challenging ways for new developers to gain the sort of experience which might otherwise take years.
This year’s ProtoPlay was complemented by several additional elements which takes Dare beyond a student competition and place it alongside the games world’s exhibitions, expos and conferences
The indie games showcase, gave over 30 independent game development studios a chance to demonstrate their new titles to the public, gaining feedback and building excitement for their up-and-coming projects. More on which, soon…
A two day indie game conference on Thursday 8th and 9th focusing on ‘convergence’ attracted a world class line-up of speakers from companies including Microsoft’s Lift London studio, Sony’s XDEV studio, Channel 4, Quartic Llama, the National Theatre Of Scotland, the V&A museum, D-Media Network, EUCROMA, Ian Livingstone (games legend), the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Story Mechanics, a women in games Q&A and a BAFTA Games Question Time with panellists from Bossa Studios, Lift London, The National Theatre Of Scotland and the V&A.
We’ll be covering the indie games conference in-depth later this week, but the overall the event was fascinating. The theme of convergence was explored by all of the speakers in a number of ways. Several speakers highlighted interesting new funding channels, or revealed how to work directly with Microsoft (looking for a new studio-in-residence), Sony (looking for new third party games) and Channel 4 (want new and exciting ideas which combine television and interactivity). All of which made the low attendance from the Scottish industry more inexplicable and disappointing.
Dare ProtoPlay also featured a game jam, in which the Oculus Rift featured heavily. One successful title allowed the to fly around a medieval landscape as a dragon, swooping, soaring, banking and of course roasting sheep alive.
On Saturday, thanks to an agreement with the equally awesome Turing Festival, design legend Jesse Schell spoke to a standing-room-only crowd, exploring the future of touch. If you’re not familiar with Jesse the a) shame on you and b) check out some of his previous talks as they are entirely wonderful. A brilliant, gifted, funny and engaging speaker, Jesse took the crowd through his thoughts on touch interfaces and controls in gaming, while demonstrating a plate spinning skill (blindfold) and asking some serious questions about the future of head-mounted displays, haptics, feedback devices and household robots.
Really. You should have been there.
Saturday introduced Dare+, a one day workshop for start-up companies, providing expert business advice from a wide range of companies including solicitors, accountants, marketing gurus and other games studios. From funding options and incubators, to business governance, it’s an area which far too few game developers give any consideration. Dare again need to be congratulated on highlighting this as an issue and providing a very low cost, easily accessible way for students and developers considering setting up on their own, with insight into what it takes to run a viable, long term business.
On Sunday, the event closed with a glittering and star-studded awards ceremony. There are three main winners of the Dare to be Digital competition, all of whom go through as nominees in the BAFTA Ones To Watch award, part of the BAFTA Games Awards, taking place in London in March 2014.
This year’s winners were:
- iKnow, with The Unknown for Android phone (Luyue Zhang, Zhaoxuan Li, Qiwei Feng, Chenying Wan and Neil Cullen)
- Mazhlele, with Project Heera for XBox360 & PC (Dhruv Dave, Neeraj Shastry, Shashank Dhongde, Tanmay Chinchkar and Shriram Srinivasan)
- Team DOS, with Size DOS Matter for iPad (Nick La Rooy, Trond Fasteraune, Silje Dahl, Mattis Delerud and Lars Andersen)
All three of the main awards were sponsored by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. For anyone under the illusion that the Dare awards are just a Scottish or Dundee-centric competition, all of this year’s winning teams are international – and their games are excellent.
We’ll be writing more about the event over the course of the week. You can also find live tweets from the conference and talks on the @scottishgames Twitter feed (look for the hashtag #Dare2013).
Abertay University and the other Dare partners are to be congratulated. Dare to be Digital has grown from a local competition to an event which offers a huge amount – to the participants, to the industry and to the next generation of talent. With some tweaks and a little polish Dare will very easily be one of most useful and enjoyable games events, not just in Scotland, not even in the UK, but worldwide.
Roll on 2014.