Students and new graduates can compete for funding, professional mentoring and ultimately the chance to win a games BAFTA through 2013’s Dare To Be Digital competition.
Now in its thirteenth year, Dare is run by the Dundee-based University of Abertay in conjunction with a who’s who of industry partners including Microsoft, Sony and a string of big-name developers. Past competitors have gone on to land game industry jobs and launch indie dev companies.
The contest is seen as a proving ground and showcase for new development talent, as Dare to Be Digital director Gregor White explains: “The core of it is really about identifying talent in the UK in the student population and bringing them to the attention of the games industry.
“They work with industry all the way through the competition, go to industry panels, and it’s games professionals who look at the quality of applications.” The competition is open to students from outside the UK too – teams from as far afield as China and Israel took part in last year’s event.
Teams of five students have until April 9 to enter Dare 2013, though individuals or smaller teams can use a matchmaking service to find potential partners. BAFTA winner Sophia George, who took the lead at Team Swallowtail for Dare 2011, says that’s the route she used to pull together a balanced group of artists and programmers. Like all teams they filled out the application form and put together a pitch – though George says she’s glad that was before the introduction of a video pitch, on account of her shyness.
She explains: “I was in the last year of my degree at Norwich University College of the Arts and a teacher said ‘there’s a competition and you should go for it ‘. I thought ‘why not, thought someone has to win it’ and went for it. Big opportunities like this are hard to find, so why wouldn’t you enter?”
Teams who pass the initial screening process will be invited to give a presentation and take questions at one of a series of regional selection days. Game ideas have to not only be original and engaging, but they must be commercially viable. “When you are pitching you have to make them confident that you can pull off a decent game,” George advises. “Be positive and commercial by talking about DLC and in app purchasing.
“I don’t think I would have sold my soul, but I looked at the competition, thought about how our game Tick Tock Toys could be played by children and tailored it for that audience. I think as a games designer you need to have an eye on how and to who your game appeals, even if it’s not the sort of game you would play yourself.”
Teams who get past the pitch are then catapulted into a nine-week bootcamp in Dundee. A stipend – an allowance of £150 per week – plus free accommodation is provided. The funding is offered to ensure competitors can focus entirely on their game development.
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