The hunt is on for a team of Irish students to compete in Dare to Be Digital

27 Feb 2013

Dr Stephen Brennan with Ballyfermot College of Further Education student Maura Stanford, aka Sonic the Hedgehog. Photo by Maxwell Photography

The Irish leg of the international Dare to Be Digital games development competition has been launched today by the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA) and applications are now open for third-level students from a variety of academic backgrounds.

Dare to Be Digital will be co-ordinated in Ireland by the DHDA, supported by the North-South Cooperation Unit at the Department of Education and Skills, and provides participants with the opportunity to connect with leading computer games companies. Dr Stephen Brennan, chief strategy officer with the DHDA, believes this could give students a realistic route into this sector.

“Computer games development presents fantastic career opportunities. This is one sector where there are lots of jobs on offer,” he said. “In fact, as an industry, digital technology currently has over 1m vacancies across Europe, and companies are crying out for talented and skilled people to fill them.”

That said, global demand for digital technology is driving rapid change in the games development sector and many of the jobs on offer now didn’t even exist five years ago. At this fast pace, academic institutions are struggling to keep up. “Anyone interested in forging a career in this space needs to be at the cutting edge of new developments,” advised Brennan. “The best way to do this is to get exposure to computer games companies.”

Dare to Be Digital will provide this opportunity by bringing national teams together this summer to stay at Abertay University, Scotland, where they will work on a prototype video game and receive hands-on mentoring from industry experts. Companies like Sega, Sony and Rockstar Games (the developer behind the Grand Theft Auto series) have been involved in previous competitions, and Brennan claims many former participants went on to secure jobs in the industry.

Dare to Be Digital

An invaluable opportunity

Teams of third-level students are invited to apply for the chance to represent Ireland in the international competition. Five students are required for each team, with members assuming the roles of programmers, artists, audio technicians and team leaders. This opens up the competition to students of varying disciplines, from computer science, coding and design to languages, art, animation and business.

The closing date for applications is 9 April. Following this, one team will be selected by a panel of judges to go on and compete at international level.

“In terms of career development, participating in this competition is invaluable – not only do students get fantastic networking and mentoring opportunities, but they also get to develop a prototype game, which for many of them goes on to present a viable business opportunity,” said Brennan.

These prototypes will then be displayed at the showcase Dare ProtoPlay, where industry experts and the general public will be invited to play and vote for the games. The three highest-scoring teams will receive stg£2,500, as well as the chance to compete for a ‘Ones to Watch’ award at the BAFTA Video Games Awards.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.