Dundee is gearing up to cement its place as the “spiritual home” of the UK video games industry by hosting the inaugural Summer of Games.
A host of public, academic and industry events will take place in the coming months from immersive tech conferences and video games design competitions, to a public celebration of graduate talent, a family friendly digital treasure trail and the return of the nationwide UK Games Fund Awards.
Kicking off the summer will be Abertay University’s Digital Graduate Show, expected to draw a crowd of thousands from May 10-14 as students from Europe’s top games university showcase their achievements.
The free public show will feature everything from video games and virtual reality experiences, through to animation, 3D modelling, character and concept design, coding, augmented reality and illustration. It promises to be a draw for everyone from developers and culture vultures to game players and families.
Panel event im/material: Virtual Encounters With Material Worlds will feature a discussion between academics, game designers, and digital storytellers, exploring the opportunities for storytelling and gaming created by the blurring between virtual and physical worlds.
On May 18, it’s the V&A Dundee for the Arcadia conference co-curated in partnership with the city’s Biome Collective. Featuring world-leading designers and radical thinkers, the event will cover the full spectrum of game- making and explore its cultural impact.
Rounding off a packed May, games fans can also attend Creative Dundee’s biggest ever Pecha Kucha Night event at the Caird Hall on the 28th, where legendary games composer Ged Grimes – creator of soundtracks for the likes of Earthworm Jim 3D, Enter the Matrix, Shrek 3 and the critically-acclaimed The Bard’s Tale IV Barrows Deep – will be among the speakers.
Chris van der Kuyl, chairman of Dundee-based 4J Studios said: “Dundee has been firmly on the world map as an international hub for the video games industry for a long time now, but this feels like the year that reputation is being cemented in the minds of the public at large.
“The breadth of activity across this Summer of Games once again drives home that this sector is not just about playing or making games as entertainment – it’s about using games to explore new ideas, finding creative solutions to complex problems and giving young creative talent the opportunity to succeed.”
Throughout the summer, two Dundee-based video games talent development competitions –Tranzfuser and Dare Academy – will feed into the wider programme.
Both contests, run by the UK Games Fund and Abertay University respectively, see teams conceptualise, pitch and create games before panels of industry judges select winning titles.
The Summer of Games will continue into June and July with a series of other activities, including a digital treasure trail for families as part of Dundee City Council’s Summer Streets Festival, a UK Hub Crawl workshop for local games companies from UK Interactive Entertainment and an R&D showcase event from the city’s new Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise (InGAME) project – a collaboration between the universities of Abertay, Dundee and St Andrews.
Seeing the summer off in style, V&A Dundee will collaborate with Abertay University on a unique Game Jam.
Members of the public can watch games being created live, as computer artists work with programmers, designers and sound engineers in the museum’s open spaces from September 6-8.
The V&A is currently hosting its latest exhibition, Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt which has explored the efforts games designers go to in producing video games from start to finish.