London Games Fest

If you are considering entering the games industry, wondering what games students are up to, want to see the Christmas releases and want to find out more about future business models and governance and legislation there is probably something for you at the London Games Festival which this year takes place at a number of venues from the 24-28th of Oct.

see esp for more details.

Dare Teams Update

The winners of the 2008 Dare to be Digital computer games design competition were announced at an awards ceremony in Edinburgh in August. Two teams from Ireland competed this year. While they did not win any prizes it looks like it was a fantastic experience for them.

Organised and promoted by the University of Abertay, Dundee, in association with Channel 4, Dare to be Digital this year saw 17 teams of five students spending 10 weeks in host centres across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Six teams were based at Abertay University (including teams from India and China), four were based at Brighton, three at London, two in Birmingham, and two in Dublin. In ten weeks the teams worked to develop fully-functioning prototypes of their game ideas.

A panel of seventeen judges, made up of representatives from fifteen different companies including Sony, Babel Media, Channel 4 and Sport Interactive, picked the three winners based on creativity and innovation, use of technology and market potential.

The Irish Connection

The Republic of Ireland’s team came from Dundalk Institute of Technology and was called ‘Infection Vector’ and the game they entered into the competition was called ‘The Manhattan Strain’. The game was compared by Eoghan Carpenter, one of the team members to ‘something like SimCity, but with an element of crisis management. The player acts as the Director of F.E.M.A. and must try to contain the outbreak of a deadly virus in the middle of Manhattan, using the NYPD to control the civilian population and CDC Biologists to treat those afflicted.’ This game used Microsoft’s XNA framework for C# in the production. See for sreenshots, movies and pictures of the team.

The Northern Irish team this year was made up of students from the University of Ulster, including Elijah Blyth and Michael Sheridan from the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems and Mark Quinn and Niall Carlin from the School of Creative Arts, all based at Magee. They were joined by a fifth team member, Alan Monaghan, from Belfast Metropolitan College. Their game was called ‘The Creeping Dark’ and used the Emergent Technologies Gamebryo, engine.

For 10 weeks the two Irish teams were in the Interactive Entertainment Technology lab in Trinity College, Dublin. Trinity provided the team with accommodation in Trinity Halls on Dartry road, and the team worked alongside the IET Masters students, who by all accounts were extremely helpful. Key mentors in Ireland were Brendan Dillon and Tony Kelly of Demonware who helped with Project Management and Marketing, and Pete McNally, of Havok, who helped with 3D modeling, texturing and animation.

The Edinburgh Experience

After that the teams flew to Edinburgh and were put up in the Edinburgh International Convention Centre with the other teams. Each team had 4 PCs and any additional peripherals required to demonstrate the games. Over the next 3 days (sun – tues), the public were invited in to play the games and vote for their favourites. At the same time, people from various parts of the games industry could also try out the games and talk to the team members about how they got on with the development / how they achieved certain things / what they would do differently the next time etc.

According to Eoghan ‘The feedback from professionals was great to hear and being congratulated by professional developers for what we had accomplished gave a great feeling of satisfaction. At the same time, the competition judges were free to try the game with us, or privately in a separate judging area.’

All in all, Eoghan felt ‘the experience was simply fantastic, as we have been told time and again, it is as close as you can get to professional development without actually being professional, and so will be of huge benefit when we go looking for employment ourselves…. Of course, it was also great (if stressful) fun.’

And what now?

Well apparently while working for the Dare to be Digital competition the team came up with another idea for a game and they are now working on it in conjunction with members from the Northern Ireland team (Eoghan Carpenter, Chris Duffy and David Reilly from the Southern team, Alan Monaghan and Mark Quinn from the Northern team, together with Alan Feekery and Anthony Keogh from the games course at Dundalk Institute of Technology).

And what is this game like? ‘Its a completely different style of game from what we were both working on before, so comes as a nice break for us from The Manhattan Strain though we have every intention of continuing work on (that game) in the future.’

Dare Protoplay

The three day public showcase of the Dare games was called Dare ProtoPlay and was staged as part of the Edinburgh Interactive Festival. Over three days around 3000 visitors attended the event, trying out the new games and voting for their favourite.

Contrived (Edinburgh University) were the team to receive the most public votes, for their game Grav, they won the Audience Award sponsored by Microsoft and a prize of £1500. Grav is set in a ‘retro-futuristic’ environment where robots are your enemies and your surroundings are your best friend.

Dare to Grow

For those who wish to go on to bigger and better things this year NESTA and the University of Abertay Dundee have launched Dare to Grow, a pilot project which will allow past participants of Dare to work with an independent games developer for a period of six months.

Eligible Dare participants (ie those who have completed their studies, have no significant prior employment experience and are available for work) will put themselves forward to be considered for the project. Independent games developers will identify and describe an innovation project in their company. The Dare to Grow Project Co-ordinator will work with the potential interns and the companies to try and broker up to six projects to run from October 2008 for up to six months.

See for more details.

New Company On The Block – Bsi Entertainment Ltd.

I was contacted recently by someone who was interested in getting to know more about the games industry in Ireland. The person in question was Russell Murphy and the company, BSI Entertainment Ltd. Why were they contacting Well, their business is matchmaking rights owners and sponsors to entertainment producers. I went along to find out more.

BSI Entertainment Ltd (BSI) is an international sports marketing and entertainment company founded in London in 1997. In the last 10 years BSI has represented a wide range of international rights holders, sponsors and licensors in sports premier echelons; Formula 1, MotoGP, World Rally Championship, Rugby, Football and Golf for whom they have developed sponsorship and licensing campaigns. They opened an Irish office in January 2008.

Over the past 6 years, BSI has developed a successful licensing division that leverages a global network and contact base in the sport and entertainment arena. They have worked with some of the largest video game publishers and developers (e.g. EA, THQ, Eidos, Acclaim and Disney) and built a reputation for negotiating licenses with rights owners, Federations, regulatory bodies and multinational companies in the sporting and entertainment categories.

BSI works with all the leading car manufacturers, Motorsport, Rugby, Football, Golf and Tennis federations to licence their Intellectual Property (IP) for inclusion in video games. Key titles they have worked on include Juiced Racing, EA, F1 Racing Series, Eidos, Football Championship Manager series, Acclaim, World Championship Rugby.

Interestingly from our perspective BSI also assists in the development of new game content and the creation of exclusive intellectual property for leading publishers. BSI is always seeking to work with owners of new IP that has been broadcast and would be suitable for the gaming sector.

BSI is located in the House of Enterprise building at 20 Fitzwilliam Street Upper, Dublin 2. You can call them on +353 (1) 6432313 or email Russell;

Tweak Festival Limerick

Tweak is an interactive digital art festival happening in Limerick from the 22nd to the 27th of September (next week).

The University of Limerick) are hosting a number of free workshops (topics include hacking, circuit bending, digital art, prototyping, and robotics) and there are still some spaces left.

The workshops are taking place in the Limerick School of Art and Design Monday to Friday 9-5. They feature workshops by speakers such as France Cadet,Digital Slaves, Area10Media Lab and John Bowers to name a few.

There is also a digital art exhibition taking place in Istrabraq Hall in the Limerick City Hall from Tuesday to Friday. This exhibit features work by artists such as Dan Miller (USA), Gregory Shakar (USA) Nigel Power (UK) and Peggy Sylopp (Berlin).

In addition there are a number of live electronic performances including a live circuit bending night and a performance by renowned digital composer Trevor Wishart

Additional information is available on the website at

Eu Funding For Game Dev

If you are a games company with a successful game project under your belt you may be interested in the latest call from the EU’s Media programme which will part fund interactive works for console, PC and mobile platforms.

The call for projects was made this month in the European Journal and will close in April 09. There are two deadlines within this time period.

Minimum funding is €10,000 and up to €1.5 million is available in total to fund projects.


In Ireland the local liason to answer questions on this programme will be via the Media Antenna office in Galway.


or contact

Md. Eibhlín Ní Mhunghaile
Cluain Mhuire Monivea Road
Tel.: 353 91 77 07 28
Fax: 353 91 77 07 46

Serious Games Call For Entries

This should be of interest to some.


The Third Annual I/ITSEC Serious Games Showcase & Challenge

Call for Serious Games Entries

Dec 1-4, 2008, Orlando, Florida, USA

Due to an overwhelming number of requests, the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge is pleased to announce that the deadline for submission of serious games to the challenge has been extended to Sept 30, 2008.

Serious Game developers are invited to submit their original serious game to the Second Annual I/ITSEC Serious Games Showcase & Challenge. The goal of the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge is to identify innovative game-based solutions to training problems that could affect personnel and systems today and in the future.

Finalists in the Serious Game Showcase & Challenge will be selected by a panel of leaders in the gaming, industry and academic fields, and will be invited to showcase their serious game at I/ITSEC 2008, where over 16,000 attendees will view and vote on each of the finalists. Awards will be presented to the top finishers.

The Challenge is open to a wide range of contestants, potential categories include student, government, individual / small business, and businesses larger than 500 employees.

Check for important details.