Grand Theft Auto IV

30 04 2008

Grand Theft Auto hit retail on Tuesday, and is expected to eclipse the launch of Halo 3 last year. reports that was receiving 80 orders per minute on launch day (though it doesn’t specify how long for), and Jason Kingsley of Rebellion has spoken up for Britsoft:

“This is world’s biggest launch in the games market and the intellectual property is actually British made, he explained. “I think that’s fantastic. It should be celebrated.”

Mainstream press coverage has been surprisingly positive, if quite formulaic, with much of it devoting a lot of time to “Other forms of entertainment have sex and violence too”. This is old hat for game developers, but nonetheless a vital part of pushing this conceptual framework out into culture. Plenty of editors and writers, along with their audiences, could still do with having this point hammered home.

NPR have said many of the same things, but it’s by far the most thoughtful piece I’ve seen in this vein.

Edit: Richard Bartle has written a fairly crowing but pragmatically brutal piece for the Guardian:

They’re no more concerned about “moral decay” or “aggressive tendencies” or any of the other euphemisms for “ohmygod I don’t understand this” than you are about soap operas.

We’ve definitely hit a turning point in the cultural dialogue, with so many more things emerging that we can point to as “games”. Fears over videogame violence are soon going to seem as irrelevant and niche as the same fears over comics.

BAFTA Deadline

5 07 2007

There’s only one day left to get submissions in for the 2007 BAFTA videogame awards. Full details on their site.

IGF 2008 Submissions Open

19 06 2007

There don’t seem to be any permalinks for news items on the official site, so once again I’ll point to Develop

The modding category has been dropped, though mods are allowed in the student category.

Video Game Script Award Announced

19 06 2007

The UK Writers Guild has has announced a new award for ‘Best Videogame Script’:

The awards specifically focus on the quality of the writing, “not the stadard of the production” and are given to the writers themselves – the shortlist is announced in September, and nominations can only be made by members of the guild.

Dare to partner with EA UK for 07

19 04 2007

EA UK’s Guildford studio will host the London and South East centre for 2007’s Dare to be Digital competition.
The collaboration has come about via a partnership between organiser Abertay University, EA, NESTA, the London Development Agency, South East Media Network and chip company AMD.

Four teams of five students each will be selected to spend the first nine weeks of the 10-week Dare to be Digital competition at the Guildford studio. Candidates are asked to spend the time developing a prototype for a game concept – with ideas and projects judged during the final week during an event held in Scotland.

The competition has been running for eight years – but this marks the first time the event has spread outside of its Scottish base, with the centre in the south joining other schemes designed to attract students from around the world. Previous entrants have gone on to work at Rockstar, EA and Lionhead or start their own studios.

Richard Leinfellner, a Vice President at EA, commented: “Dare to be Digital represents a unique model for showcasing young talent to the UK games industry. It has acted as a much needed incubator for new talent and one which EA has been proud to be associated with for a number of years.

“As industry leaders, we are committed to stimulating innovation in game making and encouraging the next generation of talent in the UK. The Dare model of setting teams up to deliver a real game prototype in 10 weeks is similar to the process we go through when getting games into production. It promotes teamwork and is very much in keeping with many of our own values.”

Tom Campbell, head of creative industries at the LDA said: “There’s a great pool of undiscovered talent within London’s universities and colleges. Dare is fantastic at discovering and fostering talent and helping aspiring game developers rise to the surface. The LDA is proud to support the first Southern heat and we hope the eventual winning team originates from the London region!”

Paul Durrant, Dare to be Digital project director at Abertay University, commented: “This is truly exciting news. The teams that take part in Dare in London and the South East will provide a valuable local talent pool and potential start-up business to the region. ”

GDC07:2007 Game Developers Choice Awards Topped By Gears of War

8 03 2007

2007 Game Developers Choice Awards Topped By Gears of War Epic Games and Microsoft Game Studios’ Xbox 360 shooter Gears of War won Best Game at the Game Developers Choice Awards, hosted by the Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. The title also picked up awards for Visual Arts and Technology.

The Game Developers Awards are the only peer-based, open nomination awards program in the industry. GDC Executive Director Jamil Moledina commented of the awards ceremony that it is “like no other”, adding that “by celebrating our visionaries by name, we give the audience and the public at large a chance to give credit where credit is due”. Nominations are open to all members of the International Game Developers Association, with the finalists chosen by the Choice Awards Advisory Board, before winners are finally voted on by IDGA members.

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GDC:XNA competition

6 03 2007

“Dream-Build-Play” offers major rewards for amateur game creators says Microsoft as it announces a new game design competition.

Microsoft has revealed details of its Dream-Build-Play contest – which aims to promote the XNA Game Studio Express tool set by offering an impressive prize bag to amateur creators.

The firm is looking for the best game to be created using the free tool-set, and is offering to publish the winning entry on Xbox Live Arcade – as well as handing over $10,000 to its creators. Runner-up prizes have been supplied by firms including Alienware, AMD, Autodesk and Softimage, which should sweeten the deal for any potential entrants.

XNA Game Studio Express allows you to create Windows games using a powerful toolkit incorporating various tools and pieces of middleware. It was launched late last year along with the Creators Club, which allows you to develop games using the tools which run on the Xbox 360, in return for a 99 Euro annual subscription.

As well as promoting the tools with competitions such as Dream-Build-Play – and the less high-profile $500 prize contest currently running on the XNA Website – Microsoft is also continuing to add new tools to the package, with GarageGames’ Torque engine, Softimage’s XSI-3D technology and Allegorithmic ProFX’s 2D texture editor all bound for XNA Game Studio in the near future.

Expanded Dare to be Digital 2007 calls for entries

23 02 2007

The University of Abertay’s computer games design competition for students, Dare to be Digital, has launched for an eighth year with a significantly expanded schedule and a call for entries.

Having established itself as a key event for the education and games sector, the contest returns for 2007 stronger than ever as the organisers aim to invite 80 or more young game developers from across the UK and Ireland to take part this year – almost twice as many as in 2006.

To capture so many potential candidates, Dare to be Digital will roll out to other locations across the British Isles. Four teams from Scotland will be selected to spend the first nine weeks of the 10-week competition based at Abertay University designing and building a fully functioning prototype of their video game idea. Also, Queen’s University in Belfast will host a similar nine-week programme for students from the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, Dare to be Digital organisers are currently working to establish a host location in England, or to host English teams in Dundee for the competition.

Elaine Russell, Abertay University’s project manager for Dare to be Digital, said: “There are now more reasons than ever for teams to get together and enter Dare. The track record of previous participants shows how very highly regarded it is within the computer games industry. This year, we have received many enquiries even before the application form was ready. This early sign of enthusiasm shows the increasing popularity of the competition.”

Entrants teams receive financial support and weekly training sessions from industry specialists during the 10-week competition. Some teams from previous years have gone on to set up their own game development studios while many other entrants have gone on to work at companies such as Lionhead, Rockstar, Codemasters, BBC Scotland, Electronic Arts and Microsoft, as well as local Dundee-based developers such as Realtime Worlds and Denki.

Added Russell: “We want to celebrate the young talent from all university courses that represent a pipeline for bringing top graduates to the video games industry. We want to do that in a way that adds value to their CVs, provides them with experience of working in interdisciplinary teams, teaches them new skills and showcases their achievements effectively. We want to ensure that there are maximum opportunities for all potential employers to evaluate the talent pool.

“We also want to inspire, promote and celebrate creativity and originality. We want our participants to have a positive economic impact when they move on from Dare to be Digital either through employment or entrepreneurial activity. Dare’s popularity is increasing year by year and has attracted many more talented individuals to apply. We have gained much industry support and wish to see more. This is a fantastic project worth supporting.”

Applications for Dare to be Digital 2007 should be made via