Dare to be Digital, organised by the University of Abertay Dundee, is a games and entertainment competition for new talent at universities and colleges of art. Teams of five, usually a mix of artists and programmers, assemble in a regional hosting centre for ten weeks to develop a prototype game, receiving daily support and weekly training sessions from industry specialists. At the end of the competition, the prototypes are displayed at a three-day showcasing event, Dare Protoplay, during the Edinburgh Festival in August. At this event the general public and industry experts play and assess the games. This is followed by an awards ceremony in Dundee for the winning teams.
Dare to be Digital first piloted among computer games students at the University of Abertay in Dundee in 1999 but in the last year it has rolled out with regional host centres being set up in Dundee, Belfast and Guildford. With the cash support from Channel 4, the Dare to be Digital initiative will be further expanded, selecting Wales as a priority regional focus for next year’s competition. A selection committee will be in place in Cardiff by February 2008 to identify the teams who should go forward to benefit from the comprehensive package of support available.
Channel 4 joins other major partners, including AMD, NCR, Electronic Arts and Realtime Worlds , in supporting this unique initiative.
Announcing the new collaboration with the channel, Andy Duncan said: “Channel 4 is driven by innovation, talent and risk-taking and all of these are inherent in the Dare to be Digital competition.
“Video game design and production requires a fusion of art and science and Dare brings together the top young talent from regional centres who will be vital to the future of digital broadcasting in this area. “
Channel 4 already supports the initiative through its 4Talent portal, which supports young people trying to break into or further their careers in the creative industries. The Channel’s 4Talent web site features regular updates from the Dare teams across the UK. As part of the broadcaster’s new package of assistance, it will also provide executive production support for the annual Dare film that will tour the UK after the Dare awards. The film will promote innovation and creativity in interactive entertainment and be used to promote the growth of further regional centres.
Paul Durrant, Director of Dare to be Digital, said: “Working with Channel 4 to promote the expansion of Dare is a huge opportunity for us. We have had a great deal of interest in Dare from regions of the UK that we are not presently covering including Wales and we are hoping that Channel 4’s support with our promotional film and other events will help build communication and networking in these new areas to allow the creation of further host centres.”
The importance of Dare to be Digital has also been recognised recently through BAFTA’s new Ones to Watch Award. The three winning teams will make the shortlist for the Video Games Award in October.
In addition to the high profile games and entertainment companies supporting Dare, other sponsors include NESTA, Tiga, Scottish Executive, Scottish Enterprise Tayside, Dundee City Council, the Digital Hub in Dublin, and Belfast City Council with the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme and Intertrade Ireland. It is hoped that having Channel 4 as the lead creative broadcast sponsor will encourage further support from regional sponsors throughout the UK.
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