The UK’s coolest little city will be fizzing with videogames talent, innovation and fun for the next four months as a Summer of Games rolls out across Dundee.
Following the launch of V&A Dundee’s latest exhibition, Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt on April 20, the city is gearing up for a programme of public, academic and industry events - from immersive tech conferences and videogames 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.
Partners from across the city and beyond including the UK Games Fund, Abertay University, Dundee City Council, Creative Dundee, Biome Collective, V&A Dundee, InGAME, UK Interactive Entertainment, 4J Studios and the University of Glasgow will be offering up a feast of activities to showcase the work and creativity of the games sector.
Kicking the summer off 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 videogames and virtual reality experiences, through to animation, 3D modelling, character and concept design, coding, augmented reality and illustration, and is a draw for everyone from developers and culture vultures to game players and families.
Also in May, academic researchers and games industry professionals from across Scotland will descend on the city for an event led by the University of Glasgow, exploring the future of mixed reality tech such as VR and AR and their implications for how we play.
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, focus will return to the magnificent V&A Dundee for 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.
That evening, Edinburgh-based We Throw Switches will take over the museum for Press Play - a one-off evening showcase of playable international design running from 7pm to 10pm.
As if that wasn’t enough for the opening month, games fans can also attend Creative Dundee’s biggest ever Pecha Kucha Night event at the Caird Hall on May 28, 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.
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 Dundee 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.
On September 4, the UK Games Fund Awards will be held at V&A Dundee, forming part of the final week of the superb Videogames Design/Play/Disrupt exhibition.
The event will once again celebrate the UK’s grass-roots indie games sector, with awards including those for Best Studio and Games Development Genius, alongside a range of other accolades recognising and rewarding the innovation and hard work of the country’s game developer talent.
Finally, rounding off the summer in style, V&A Dundee will collaborate with Abertay University on a unique Game Jam to mark the end of the exhibition.
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.
Paul Durrant, Founder and Chief Executive of the UK Games Fund said: “The benefit of having Dundee as the base for our UK operations is that we are able to participate in fabulous opportunities like this. We'll be sharing the delights of Dundee with over 150 members of our community representing 70 different games studios who'll we'll bring to the city from all corners of the UK during the Summer of Games."
Professor Gregor White, Dean of Abertay University’s School of Design and Informatics said: “Dundee is one of the UK’s most innovative and forward-thinking videogames clusters and it’s fantastic to see such a wealth of activity taking place across the city. I’m delighted our academics, graduates and students have been able to get involved in such a wide and varied programme of events, catering to everyone from children discovering games for the first time to developers pushing the cutting edge of the medium.”
Dr Jo Twist OBE, Ukie CEO said: “Games now contribute massively to culture, society and the economy and Dundee is very much at the forefront of the games sector in the UK. It’s therefore brilliant to have an event like Summer of Games, being hosted in Dundee, that celebrates and showcases so many of the different aspects of the games industry and we’re delighted to be supporting it by helping local games businesses and students to get investor ready at our Hub Crawl.”
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 videogames industry for a long time now, but this feels like the year that reputation is being cemented in 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.”
Gillian Easson, Director of Creative Dundee said: “This year is a great opportunity to show just how important Dundee’s creative industries are to Scotland and there’s never been a better chance to shine a light on all the amazing projects we have going on in the city. There’s so much talent in the videogames cluster and it’s a real privilege to collaborate with people working in the sector across Dundee through projects like Pecha Kucha.”
Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee said: “Dundee has a rich history of digital creativity and the annual Abertay Digital Graduate Show is always a highlight in the city’s cultural calendar. This summer will be a particularly exciting time for game players and anyone with an interest in art, creativity and design, from the many different events and talks to our major new exhibition, Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt.”
Councillor John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council said: “It is great to see Dundee celebrating its rich video gaming heritage in so many ways this summer. The city’s Summer Streets Festival has been bitten by the videogame bug, as this year it will feature a digital treasure hunt for families to enjoy. Dundee is the place to be for videogames this summer and there is really something for everyone.”
Director of InGAME, Sean Taylor said: “It is great to see so much activity around the videogames industry in Dundee in store this summer and we are very much looking forward to revealing some of the key projects that InGAME will be focussing on. This industry is vitally important to Scotland and we are committed to working with local companies as we seek to increase the scape and value of the Dundee cluster.”
Director of Biome Collective, Malath Abbas said: “It’s fantastic to see the scale of activity taking place across Dundee this summer and that illustrates just how far the city has come in terms of understanding the wide-ranging scope and purposes of the games sector. Diversity and experimentation are key to our sector and Arcadia will help celebrate this! We are delighted to be bringing Arcadia back this year and V&A Dundee is the perfect setting for the great line-up of speakers we have in store.”
Follow #SummerOfGames this summer.