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Dare to Be Digital

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Dare to be Digital is a video games design competition targeted at university students and recent graduates, started by and held at Abertay University, Scotland since 2000.

Teams (typically of 5 university undergraduates or fresh graduates) work together in a microcosm of a games development company at their home or within their home university to develop a prototype of a new video game. Teams have 9 weeks from the start of the competition to finish their game although it can be in production for up to a year prior to starting.[1]

The main objective is to help students gain real life working experience as a multi-disciplinary group. Mentoring support is provided by game industry professionals. The competition culminates at Dare Protoplay, an indie games festival in which the games made by Dare Contestants are the main event and can be voted on by the public. Entrants are provided free accommodation for the duration of Dare Protoplay by Abertay University.

Entrance to the competition is based upon each team's ability and the nature of the game concept. This is measured against three criteria: creativity, market potential, and use of technology. Applications for Dare to be Digital are assessed by members of Dare to be Digital's "Developer Accord", consisting entirely of representatives from the games industry. These representatives will also interview the teams before making a decision on which teams will take part that year.

These criteria are also used to decide the three winning teams, who go through to be nominated for the BAFTA Ones To Watch Award. Additional awards are given by sponsors, such as Channel 4, Design in Action and Intel, as well as an audience and team choice awards based on public and team votes respectively.

BAFTA Ones To Watch Award[edit]

The three winning teams of Dare to be Digital form the sole nominees of a BAFTA Ones To Watch Award as of 2007.

BAFTA Ones to Watch Previous Winners
Year Team Name Game Name Sponsoring University/College
2007 Voodoo Boogy Ragnarawk Abertay University
2009 DarkMatter Designs Boro Toro University of Wolverhampton
2010 The Butterflyers Shrunk! Abertay University
2011 That Game Studio Twang! University of Skövde
2012 Swallowtail Tick Tock Toys Norwich University College of the Arts and Abertay University
2013 Kind of a Big Deal Starcrossed Kajaani University of Applied Sciences and Abertay University
2014 DOS Studios Size DOES Matter Norwegian School of Information Technology
2015 team ok Chambara University of Southern California and University of Colorado

There was no BAFTA Video Games Awards Ceremony in 2008. The nominees for the 2016 BAFTA Ones to Watch award will include:[2]

Dare ProtoPlay[edit]

Building on the final phase of Dare to be Digital, Dare ProtoPlay, a video game and consumer event, takes place over 3 days in August every year. After the competition ends the teams demonstrate their titles at Dare ProtoPlay, formerly held at the Edinburgh Interactive Festival until 2010 but now at the Caird Hall in Dundee. This free event is open to the general public.

13,000 visitors visited Dare ProtoPlay 2013. Dare 2014 was held on 7–10 August in Dundee City Square and Caird Hall.


In 1999, an idea was developed within the University of Abertay Dundee, who were one of the global pioneers in academic courses for video games development. In 2000, it was opened to all university students across Scotland.

Different development models were tested with involvement from international teams who came from Japan, Canada, China, India and Malaysia, where a trial host centre model was carried out.

With industry and government support, the contest opened parallel host centres across the UK as of 2007, in Belfast and Electronic Arts office in Guildford. It has since been opened up to all UK and Irish universities and selected international partners, with all teams now being hosted in the University of Abertay Dundee.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Winner of Develop Talent Investment Award [3]

Livingstone-Hope Review of Video Games and Visual Effects Next Gen. (2011)
Dare to be Digital was singled out and cited in one of the 20 recommendations as a template for the UK education:
Develop a template for introducing workshop simulation into industry-accredited video games and visual effects courses, based on Abertay University’s Dare to be Digital competition.[4]

Demanding Growth: Why the UK needs a recovery plan based on growth and innovation (2009) & Demanding Growth in Scotland: Why Scotland needs a recovery plan based on growth and innovation (2009)
Rolling out of student placements such as the highly successful Dare to be Digital prototype competition across the UK. This initiative, sponsored by the University of Abertay in Dundee, provides talented students with the opportunity to showcase their creativity and skills in front of prospective employers. Wider use of placements encourages HEIs to simulate the workplace environment more successfully.[5]

Winner of Develop Edu New Talent Award

Playing for Keeps – challenges to sustaining a world-class UK games sector (2007)
The exception to the rule is Abertay University’s Dare to be Digital competition (DTBD), which funds teams of students to develop prototype game engines and playable levels of games in a ten-week intensive course. The resulting games are then judged by a panel of industry specialists and small cash prizes are given based on a range of awards from ‘most commercially viable’ to ‘best use of technology’. The resulting games, their excellence and their creator’s employability have shown the industry the creativity and ingenuity of the new talent emerging from the handful of UK universities so far involved. 25 out of 46 current courses have contributed entrants to date, and 80 per cent of Dare’s participants win jobs in the industry after competing.[6]


Scottish Enterprise Tayside and Dundee City Council have been supporters of the development of the competition since its beginning, along with local technology company NCR Corporation and game developers such as Rare, Blitz Games Studios, Electronic Arts and Rockstar North.

Dare 2007[edit]

12 teams took part in Dare 2007, including BAFTA Ones to Watch Award nominees Care Box for their game 'Climbactic' (Edinburgh University), Phoenix Seed for 'Bear Go Home' (Peking University and the University of Abertay Dundee) and Voodoo Boogy for 'Ragnarawk' who ultimately won the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award.

Dare 2008[edit]

There were 17 teams taking part in Dare 2008, including BAFTA Ones to Watch Award nominees Blue Skies for their game ‘Origamee’ (Abertay University), Ctrl_D for ‘VegeMe’(Peking University) and DarkMatter Designs for ‘Boro-Toro’, with the latter team winning.[7]

Dare 2009[edit]

14 teams took part in 2009. The competition went more international with students coming from Canada, England, India, China, Northern Ireland, The Irish Republic, Norway, Scotland and Wales. The BAFTA Ones to Watch Award nominees were Colour-coded by PixelPirates[8] (University of Abertay Dundee), Quick as Thieves by Gentlemen of Fortune[9] (University of Abertay Dundee) and Shrunk by The Butterflyers[10] (University of Abertay Dundee) who won the award.

Dare 2010[edit]

15 teams took part in 2010, coming from China, England, India, Ireland, Sweden, Scotland, USA and Wales. The three BAFTA Ones to Watch Award nominees were Angry Mango for their game 'Mush' (University of Wales, Newport), Team Tickle for 'Sculpty' (Abertay University) and That Game Studio for 'Twang', who ultimately won the award.


Prize winners were 'Bears with Jetpacks' for their game 'Grrr!' who won the "Adult Swim" sponsored award for innovation and creativity.

The Teams-Choice award went to Bazooka Duck, who also won the Intel Visual Adrenaline Award, and That Games Studio won the public choice award.

Media coverage[edit]

Dare 2010 was the focus of a 3 part documentary series filmed for, and screened by Channel 4 in the UK.[11] Named 'Crunchtime[12]' the series featured several teams during the development of their games and the Protoplay exhibition.

Team Game Format Country
Abnormal Creations The Inkwell Chronicles Wii UK
Angry Mango Mush Windows Mobile Wales
Bazooka Duck Epoch Defence PC UK
Bears with Jetpacks Grrr! Wii UK
Creative Genius Silent Symphony PC UK
eleMENTAL Weatherman Xbox 360 Scotland
Gazhab Chayya Xbox 360 India
Grimnir Games Death Inc. PSP UK
King of Dice Dice Rolling PC China
Nevermind Games WiiKick Wii Ireland
Ramblin' Wreckage Hella Umbrella Android USA
Shark on a Bike Dyed World Xbox 360 Scotland
Team Tickle Sculpty iPad Scotland
That Games Studio Twang Xbox 360 Sweden
Various Artists Legendary Crusaders PC UK

Dare 2011[edit]

Dare 2011 had 15 participating teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, India, Denmark and China.[13]

Team Game Format Country
A Necessary Evil Carne Carne PC UK
Ape-y Eyes Paper Quest Kinect UK
Crispy Nugget Studios Galaxy Guardians Kinect UK
Digital Hazards Shadow Light PC UK
Digital Knights Joust it Out! Kinect Denmark
Evolved Ape Dreamweaver PC UK
Faraway Games Aida iPad UK
Fatdog Games The Tale of Yog iPad UK
FunBox Ants the Lost Memories PC India
Furnace Games Scorcher Kinect UK
Rebel Donut Plunder in the Jungle Windows Phone 7 UK
Swallowtail Tick Tock Toys iPad UK
Tea and Techno Full English Fusion Windows Phone 7 UK
The Weather Factory The Balloonist iPad Ireland
Yummy Tummy Who is the Lucky Ghost? iPhone China

Dare 2012[edit]

Dare 2012 had 15 participating teams from England, Scotland, Ireland, India, Finland, Israel, Spain and China.

Team Game Format Country
Caracol Games Slick! PC UK
CLOCKinROCK Liminal Magibrawl Kinect Ireland
Fortified Castle Crusade iPad UK
Dapper Hat Games Mr. Montgomery's Debonair Facial Hair iPad UK
Gastank Games Interstate Outlaws Kinect UK
Ideer Colour Captain iPad China
Kind of a Big deal Starcrossed Windows phone 7 Finland
LazzyBrains What A Day: The Story of a fisher-worm iPad India
Loan Wolf Games Pixel Story PC UK
Mad Rocket Games Ready, Steady, Roll! Android Tablet UK
Must Make Games Badgers vs. Turtles iPad/iPhone UK
Raptor Games Project Thanatos PC/Sensics zSight Headset UK
Team Faceplant GravTech PC UK
Team-Iso IsoChronous PC Spain
The Nuclear Duck Marcelo Kinect Israel

Awards 2012[edit]

BAFTA "Ones to Watch Award" Nominations[edit]

- Starcrossed, for Windows Phone 7 by Kind of a Big Deal

- Pixel Story, for PC by Loan Wolf Games

- Project Thanatos, for PC and virtual reality headset by Raptor Games

Channel 4 prize[edit]

Loan Wolf Games

Intel Visual Computing Tools Audience Award[edit]

Raptor Games

Developers Choice Award[edit]


Dare 2014[edit]

Dare 2014 had 15 participating teams from Scotland, England, Ireland, USA, China, India and Malta.

Team Game Format Country
A Fox Wot I Drew Baum Android Tablet UK & Ireland
AM Sunny Rainy Snowy iPad China
Desk Jockeys Reshuffle Tablet UK & Malta
Five Pixels Seek Android Tablet UK
Good Day Games Lapin iPad UK & Ireland
Insert Imagination Kuria PlayStation Vita UK
Overly Kinetic Chambara PC USA
Straight Ahead Straight Ahead iPad China
Taleforge Studios World Eater iPad UK
TCN Soul Seeker Android Tablet UK
Team Pugstar Pug Pug Pirates iPad UK & Ireland
The Pillowettes D-Bug iPad USA
Too Mainstream Sagittarius PC & Oculus Rift India
Torque Don't Walk: RUN PC/Tablet UK
Unorthobox Ally PC with Controllers UK

Awards 2014[edit]

BAFTA "Ones to Watch Award" Nominations[edit]

- Chambara, for PC by Overly Kinetic

- Don't Walk: Run, for PC and Tablet by Torque

- Sagittarius, for PC and Oculus Rift by Too Mainstream

Channel 4 prize[edit]

Don't Walk: RUN by Torque

The Foundry Artistic Achievement Award[edit]

Seek by Five Pixels

Dare Team's Choice Award[edit]

D-Bug by The Pillowettes

Dare Protoplay Audience Award[edit]

World Eater by Taleforge

Dare Commercial Potential Award[edit]

Baum by A Fox Wot I Drew [15][14]


  1. ^ "Dare to be Digital 2015 launches – more open than ever!". Daretobedigital.com. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Dare to be Digital 2015 winners revealed". Develop-online.net. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Develop Awards 2014: And the winners are…". Mcvuk.com. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Next Gen". Nesta.org.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Demanding growth". Nesta.org.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-15. Retrieved 2014-07-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Dare to be Digital winners announced at awards ceremony". Daretobedigital.com (Press release). 15 August 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Dare to be Digital 2009 Team Blog: Pixel Pirates: Colour Coded". Daretobedigital.com. Archived from the original on 25 November 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Dare to be Digital 2009 Team Blog: Gentlemen of Fortune: Quick As Thieves". Daretobedigital.com. Archived from the original on 25 November 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Dare to be Digital 2009 Team Blog: The Butterflyers: Shrunk!". Daretobedigital.com. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  11. ^ Rossignol, Jim (2011-03-25). "A Documentary About British Game Dev". Rockpapershotgun.com. Retrieved 2020-08-09.
  12. ^ "CRUNCHTIME, an exciting new Channel 4 documentary about indie game development". Gamasutra.com. Retrieved 2020-08-09.
  13. ^ "Dare to be Digital teams unveiled for 2011 contest". Daretobedigital.com (Press release). 30 May 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  14. ^ a b "For the Gamers, By the Gamers". Daretobedigital.com. 21 March 2019. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  15. ^ Design in Action Business Profile "A Fox Wot I drew - Baum | Design in Action", November 12, 2015, Accessed July 28, 2021.

External links[edit]