Science Gallery Events

First up the deadline for proposals for the game exhibition is fast approaching – next Monday, 2nd July. Get your thinking caps on for this weekend and get some proposals in to them at

There current exhibition is HACK THE CITY and there are a lot of intereesting events coming up.

THU 28.06.12 18:00-19:30
Join ‘artivist’ Will St Leger for a culture jamming master class. In this workshop, you’ll learn about city interventions, adbusting, art hacking and generally challenging the status-quo with a game of visual jiu-jitsu. Admission: Free (pre-booking essential). BOOK HERE.

SAT 14.07.12 10:00-18:00
Makers of all kinds will descend upon Science Gallery for Ireland’s first ever mini maker faire during ESOF this summer. It will also feature a special one-off event with Ireland’s favourite maker, Mary “Make and Do” Fitzgerald from RTE’s 80s classic, How Do You Do? (BOOK HERE). FIND OUT MORE.

THU 28.06.12 – SUN 01.07.12
A four day festival that addresses social, technological and cultural issues around the digital commons runs at Science Gallery and CTVR headquarters, Trinity College Dublin from June 28 – July 01. REGISTER HERE.

Digit Launch Event

Digit Game Studios is a new company in Dublin and they have 10 roles and up to 20 openings at the moment…see under jobs, all posted 3rd June

Yesterday saw the official press launch in Dublin city centre and the announcement that Digit Game Studios has acquired significant funding from Irish investors and is set to establish a major independent games studio in Ireland.

The initial team is expected to grow rapidly as the games deployed expand on multiple platforms. The management team has held senior positions in EA, Atari, Jagex, Popcap and Jolt/Gamestop.

“We chose Dublin because of the ability to access best in class talent, the great support from Enterprise Ireland and the general buzz around the cities startup scene. We hope to hire locally mostly but also intend to attract some top class people from around the games world”, said Richard Barnwell, CEO of Digit, commenting at the launch.

“We were impressed by the founding team of Digit which is one of the most experienced teams we have seen in the online gaming sector in Europe. This funding will allow them to recruit the appropriate personnel and give the company a platform to execute on their strategy of becoming a global leader in the online gaming sector” Maurice Roche, General Partner Delta Partners.

‘We have known Richard, Martin, Dave and Fergus for sometime, and it is great to have found an opportunity to invest in them. The innovative titles they are creating are going to get the attention of players and major publishers’ John O’Sullivan, General Partner ACT Venture Capital.

Welcoming the announcement, Greg Treston, Enterprise Ireland Head of High Potential Start Ups, said: ‘Digit Games Studios is a highly innovative young Irish company which will rapidly make a name for itself in the games sector.

About Digit Gaming Founders

CEO Richard Barnwell was most recently CEO of Jolt Online Gaming and an Advisor to GameStop (NYSE:GME) Prior to that he was CEO of secureVirtual (Cloud hosting platform in London) and part of the original management team at Jagex

CMO Martin Frain was most recently Marketing Director at Stan James. His games experience spans Marketing and Business Development Director at Atari, Global Marketing Director at EA, Marketing Director at Radica and Marketing Manager at Hasbro

Art Director Fergus Duggan worked at Jolt Online Gaming, Monumental Games, Swordfish Studios and at Circle Studio

David McGovern was Head of Studio at Jolt Online Gaming and was previously Mobile QA Lead at Popcap

An experienced team in developing and launching games:
MMOs: Runescape, Star Trek Online
AAA console :Tomb Raider, Colin McRae, Mirrors Edge
Online :Battlefield Heroes, Championship Manager Rivals
Mobile :Bejewelled, Chuzzle

Meet and Greet

Digital Game Studios are having a more general launch event this thurs. evening, 28th June, in Dublin.

Attendance is free so if you are interested in hearing more about the company and the jobs sign up at

If you can’t make it pop along to the shindig in the Lombard on Pearse Street on fri evening from 7.30 and we should have all the gossip!

What’s The Score?

As a frontman for numerous cover bands, and composer for RTÉ’s About the House, Mick Kiely played in front of a few audiences in his time, but nothing compared to the rowdy rabble that faced him in South America. After writing the soundtrack for Codemasters shooter Bodycount, the Irish composer travelled to Brazil to perform as part of touring orchestral production Video Games Live (VGL). Kiely stepped on stage with a strap-on keyboard in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, and São Paulo, and performed the Bodycount score while footage from the game played on a huge screen behind him.

Rather than sitting sedately, as is the norm at classical concerts, the audiences acted like they were at an Iron Maiden gig. “They were going mental,” laughs Kiely. “You can’t help thinking, that’s how Beethoven intended it to be back in his day. It was a great experience to see. It’s probably the first time in the history of classical music that young audiences have flocked to orchestral performances.”

The rapturous reception that greets VGL versions of gaming classics – whether Mario, Zelda, Mass Effect or Monkey Island – should come at no surprise to committed gamers. From the staccato blips of Pong to the creepy melodies of Silent Hill, or the soaring strings of Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim, audio and music has always played an integral part of game design.

Music supports the emotional experience of the player, says Alan Duggan, who develops casual games at Galway-based Tribal City Interactive. “It’s an important part of the experience in the games we make – it sets the tone. I’ve often said that if we can get to a point with our games where we can affect you emotionally in the same way that a song does, then we have reached something special. It’s a very hard thing to do.”

Codemasters requested three separate types of music for Bodycount: orchestral, ethnic and electronic, so Kiely travelled to Bulgaria to work with a 60-piece philharmonic orchestra. He continues: “The ethnic instruments were recorded in Switzerland. We used shakuhachis, bamboo flutes and other ethnic wind instruments. There was a big dedication to African rhythms. I used a percussionist who had gone to Kenya and learned old battle rhythms with tribes. The electronica was done at my studio in Gorey.”

Kiely’s mammoth production was a far cry from casual games, so earlier this year Kiely travelled to the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco to discuss casual games with established composers. “Most composers in the AAA sector have no interest in the casual game sector,” he says. “That’s a real problem for casual game developers when it comes to music. They either know somebody [who can work on the score], perhaps someone in a band, or they license it. But with licensing comes tonnes of problems…”

Music design is a skill unto itself. Developers are unlikely to be au fait with audio software, such as Logic or Pro-Tools. “When we want art for our games, we go to a game artist,” says Duggan. “It should be no different with music. To some extent, you might get away with a library of sound effects, particularly with casual games. But even then, you have to be able to articulate what you want in the sound. Otherwise, you often end up listening to hundreds of sound effects looking for the one you want. It’s obviously more expensive, but much easier from the developer’s perspective to have someone who knows what they are doing – whether it’s a composer or someone doing Foley [sound effects] – to create that effect for you.”

Kiely felt a sense of achievement when he wrapped his 10 months of work on Bodycount, but he also felt isolated as there was no community of game composers in Ireland. So in late 2011, he established Games Music Ireland (GMI), a portal that allows composers to learn about game development and network with game developers. Over 70 composers turned up at GMI’s first networking event in December, 2011.

Just as developers are unlikely to know much about music composition, Irish composers are uninformed about the games industry. “Composers are afraid because they don’t understand it – there’s no knowledge base,” says Kiely. “When I got the Bodycount job, they brought me to the Codemasters studios and I was terrified. I didn’t know what I was doing – I didn’t know how music worked in games and how it was implemented. I had to learn on the job.”

Music in games has evolved steadily over the years, yet memorable tunes were always integral to great gaming experiences. Early arcade classics like Defender had digital ditties that remain mind-bogglingly addictive to this day. Rob Hubbard (composer behind C64 classics like Ace II and Commando, famed for writing music in ones and zeroes on pub napkins), once said that the “limited polyphony of the sound hardware in consoles and home computers forced you to write in a certain style.”

Casual and social game developers face new audio challenges. With the advent of tablets and smartphones, a great audio experience is crucial. The interactive experience is markedly different in console games, where the composer has to reel in the player for hours. In a casual game, players dip in and out. Either way, the purpose of the music remains the same.

“Immersion is the key word here – the soundtrack helps the immersion,” says Claire Fitch, who designed music loops for Jolt’s Playboy Manager, Blender’s Yo Frankie!, Forfás game NanoQuest, and Torc’s Dreadnought. “The Dreadnought music was particularly tense, in line with the game,” says Fitch. “The colourful, cartoon-like world of Yo Frankie! needed a more cute sounding track. NanoQuest needed a soundtrack to really enhance concentration, and the stylised world of Playboy Manager needed hip-hop, pop and rock cues to help immerse the player into the game world.”

Limerick’s Open Emotion Studios also produced memorable casual game soundtracks. Ninjamurai crosses Eastern melodies with dance music, Mad Blocker Alpha is a mix of suspense music and classical, and Revoltin’ Youth is a homage to 1970’s jazz-funk and contemporary house. In choosing soundtracks, developers at Tribal City take cues from their game’s graphics. Into The Twilight, for example, was inspired by Tim Burton’s movies, so the developers sought a Danny Elfman inspired score. For Flip the Switch, they wanted something “cheeky and fun”.

The composing process for these two games was pointedly different. Tribal City had a tiny budget for Into The Twilight, so the team opted to license music from But licensed music has drawbacks.

“You’re always trying to make your game stand out and be unique,” says Duggan. “The music is a big part of that. Since Twilight was released two and a half years ago, I’ve come across its music once elsewhere. That’s not often, but we want an audio experience that is singular to our games. Because audio is so emotive, it’s one of the things that people will remember. You’re looking for a riff that sticks in your head. It’s the same concept as an advertisement.” For Flip the Switch, Tribal City hired a composer to create an original score.

StoryToys, the Irish development company formerly known as Ideal Binary, leapt to fame with their exquisite series of interactive books based on the Grimm Brother stories. The studio licensed music at first, although this was less than ideal, according to Jim Pipe, Product Manager. “The problem with licensing music is that ultimately a lot of the good stuff sitting around has been taken,” says Pipe. “It’s frustrating when you get a really good piece of music and then hear it on a poorly designed app a few months later.”

On 31 May, 2012, StoryToys will release their first original-IP app, which features a uniquely composed score. Pipe, who composed the score with the help of a few musicians, says the app is aimed at the pre-school market: “It’s for three years old and under. I was concerned that we couldn’t find licensed stuff gentle enough for this age group. I wanted to create a toy box feel in the music, so the main tune is played on a glockenspiel and vibraphone. The higher pitch sounds is a good fit for something like an iPhone or iPad.”

Memory capacity is a significant challenge in audio composition – graphics and audio consume the most amount of space. “There’s a struggle in game development where the art and graphics make up the game economy,” says Kiely. “Little is left to the audio. The audio also includes Foley – gunshots, etc – and dialogue. You have to find a way to put as little music content into the game as possible, so the game can produce a long-playing score.”

Although a casual developer is unlikely to work with a 60-piece orchestra, they can use tricks of the trade to emulate this effect, enhance the score, and make the most out of available memory. The standard technique is to loop music, although badly looped music can ruin an interactive music experience. “Because music is so emotive, if it annoys you, it will push you away pretty quickly,” says Duggan. “Seamless loops can be difficult to achieve.”

Creating loop distractions is an efficient compositional trick. “[In AAA games], if a piece of music is 60MB, you have to be able to reduce it to 10MB, but recreate that entire piece of music with clips, introducing tricks so the players do not realise they’re listening to loops,” says Kiely. “You might introduce another instrument into the loop, so all of a sudden it feels the score is evolving. In film, you have the luxury of an entire score that never has to change. But music in games is all smoke and mirrors. We have the technology whereby we can apply the same tricks of the trade to casual games, as we do in AAA gaming. This is what’s exciting for me – I think it’s where Game Music Ireland can come into play.”

In most casual and social games, music is a background asset, but composers and developers see no reason why casual game scores should not evolve. “Music plays tricks on your brain and rewires it in a certain way,” says Pipe. “I’d be very interested in developing something in the future in which the music and interaction is tightly locked in. The only way you can do that is to create stuff that is scored to tie in exactly with the app.”

Can casual and social developers, facing mounting budgetary challenges, afford to commission or create unique scores? Licensed music tends to involve a flat fee. Licensing songs from established bands – commonplace in AAA titles – often costs outrageous amounts. In the case of indie titles and bands – as in the case of Open Emotion’s upcoming RubberBandits title – finances can be more affordable. Kiely is under no illusions about the budgetary differences between Bodycount and the average casual venture.

“That’s why most composers working on AAA games are not really interested in casual games – because the money is not there,” he says. “Occasionally, there will be a semi-decent budget where you can record some orchestral stuff but that’s very rare. But with good samples, there’s a real opportunity for composers to make a difference in the games space, even with the budgets that are there now, whether we’re talking €10,000 or €500.”

Duggan and Pipe intend to keep creating original music for their games. Tribal City, who has five games in development, has outsourced a composer,, for upcoming title Turtle Trouble. Pipe hopes to hire a composer for future StoryToys apps. “[Our business] has only really taken off over the last few months,” says Pipe. “In two or three months time, there’s no way I’m going to be able to focus on [music composition]. I partly did it so I could know what is involved before I commission anyone else.”

As traditional composers become increasingly informed about the casual game space, through projects such as Games Music Ireland, indie game audio can only improve. Whether you are a composer, developer, gamer or app user, this can only be music to everyone’s ears.

Games Music Ireland and Windmill Lane Recording Studios Present Composing for Games Module, June 11, 12, 13.

For more information:

See also:

2Paperdolls Release Mind Of Man

Nice to hear that 2PaperDolls, the Irish based mobile games studio, have gotten inside the Mind of Man, at least on Twitter.

Mind of Man for Twitter®, the Twitter discovery game will be launched this week and reveals how the world sees you by turning your text and behaviors into unique digital avatars.

The avatars, called MindPrints, identify players’ most dominant traits and emotions relative to their friends, favorite celebrities, and the rest of the Twitterverse. While popular social media tools rank only power or influence, Mind of Man portrays players’ online personalities, character flaws, even anti-social tendencies through crowdsourcing. Players earn both virtual and real-world rewards for judging each other.

What began as a project to capture mood on Twitter has evolved into an application that “blurs the boundaries between real life and your online world,” explains founder Louis Ravenet. “The game captures a player’s online persona in a MindPrint, then uses their personality to drive other game experiences for prizes, discounts and rewards.”

Although sentiment analysis tools until recently relied on a simple “thumbs up/thumbs down” model, Mind of Man goes beyond polarity in measuring moods and emotions through “an oracle that talks back” in an Orwellian tone. “This is no coincidence in an era of digital privacy concerns,” says Ravenet.

Mind of Man for Twitter is now available on the iTunes App Store in both free and premium subscription versions:

Mind of Man for Twitter

Mind of Man+ for Twitter

Mind of Man® is a Twitter discovery game that allows players to learn more about themselves and others through crowdsourced recommendations, while competing to win free stuff at choice retailers, restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes.

See and @mindofman .

2PaperDolls mobile games studio creates entertaining and purposeful games that blur the lines between real life and your online world. To find out more, visit and @2paperdolls.

European Serious Games Awards!

The European Serious Games Awards aim to celebrate the best videogames for learning created in Europe. We will rely on scientific evaluation of the submitted games in order to award prizes not only to the best Serious Games, but also to the best academic works in the field.

The Awards Ceremony will take place during the VS-Games 2012 Conference in Genoa, Italy, on October 30th 2012 (

Each winner of one the 4 European Serious Games Awards will be
rewarded by the following cash prizes:

Awards for the Serious Games:
– Best Learning Game Award (1st place): 1000€
– Best Learning Game Award (2nd place): 500€

Award for the evaluation of Serious Games:
– Best Learning Game Evaluation: 500€

Award for the academic students:
– Best Student Academic Paper: 500€

Each winner will also get a free entrance to the VS-Games 2012
Conference, where the Awards ceremony will take place. We will offer one conference registration (worth about 400€) for each award winner who will attend to the Awards ceremony (travel and accommodation costs remaining at the charge of the winners).


To submit a Serious Game:
– Your game must have been created by and/or funded by an organization within Europe (private company, school or university, NGO…)
– Your game is available in English.
– You agree to provide us with at least three working copies of your game (to perform the evaluations).
– Fulfil the game submission form and send it to before June 30th.

To volunteer for the scientific evaluation of Serious Games:
– The scientific evaluation of the submitted games will be performed by the members of the GALA Young Academy.
– If you wish to participate in the evaluation process of the games
for the European Serious Games Awards and maybe win the “Best Learning Game Evaluation Award”, you need to be a member of the Young Academy first.

The young academy is open to students, researchers, teachers
and professional working on Serious Games. Check the GALA Young Academy to subscribe and see how you can participate in the evaluation process.
– If you are interested, be sure to get in touch with the GALA Young Academy before June 30th.

To submit an academic student paper:
– You are a Master or PhD Student studying in an European school or university.
– Your article is between 4 and 8 pages long.
– Your article is written in English language.
– Your article was accepted to a conference or journal (reference
needed for verification – if you have been accepted to a conference that didn’t take place yet or in a journal issue that is yet to be published, please send the acceptation letter).
– Only one paper can be submitted per student.
– Fulfil the student paper submission form and send it to before June 30th.

*More Information*
For further information, please check the official European Serious
Games Awards website:

The European Serious Games Awards are organized by GALA, an European Network of Excellence dedicated to research on Serious Games

Q-Con Speaker Line Up

The industry speakers line up for Q-Con in Belfast, weekend of the 22nd of June has been announced.

They include:

John Hope of Project Zebra:
Jim Murray of Troll Inc:
Kevin Beimers of Straandlooper:
Gawain Morrison of FilmTrip:
Alan Hook of University of Ulster:
Sean McCafferty of Blackmarket Games:
Paddy Murphy of 2PaperDolls:
Peter Moorhead of Cube Noir:
John Connor of Pearlmoon Productions:


Digit Recruiting

We have just posted eight positions at various levels from senior to junior in programming and art on

The company hiring is Digit, a new comer on the scene which is backed by venture capital but with four veterans from the industry in charge. Their founders have experience in developing and launching games including : World leading MMOs (Runescape, Star Trek Online), AAA console titles (Tomb Raider,Colin McRae, Mirrors Edge), Online (Battlefield Heroes, Championship Manager Rivals) and mobile games (Bejewelled, Chuzzle).

For more on their backgrounds you can see their profiles on Linked in via

We have asked for more info and been assured that in about a month we will have it! Looking forward to hearing more..

For now pass on the word re the jobs…