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Students win prestigious industry-judged games competition and BAFTA nomination

Three graduates from Norwich University of the Arts have won £2,500 and a nomination for a BAFTA after being named in the final three of games development competition Dare to be Digital. Kristian Francis, Sophia George and Rosie Ball, who are all graduates of NUA’s BA Games Art and Design degree course, will now wait until the British Academy Video Games Awards in March 2012 to find out if they will win the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award.

Teram SwallowtailTeam Swallowtail at the Dare to be Digital Awards: (from left) Kristian Francis, Sophia George, Rosie Ball (all NUA graduates), Cam Goold and Mark Bamford

NUA annually encourages students to form teams to enter the Dare to be Digital competition, which is run by Abertay University and this year attracted entrants from 70 universities from across the UK as well as Canada and India. Rosie, Sophia and Kristian, together with two Abertay-based students, formed Team Swallowtail and pitched a game idea called ‘Tick Tock Toys’ to a panel of judges to win a place in the final 15. They then spent 9 weeks in Abertay using the university’s facilities and technical mentoring from industry to build a prototype which went on display to the public in video gaming education and consumer event Dare ProtoPlay in Dundee.

Tick Tock Toys is an app game which uses the tilt and touchscreen functions of the iPad to control a toy robot as it traverses a toy box solving puzzles along the way.

Kristian says: “The team started with a really strong idea and I knew really quickly that we were on to a winner. The experience of actually making a product has been invaluable and looking at the huge success of games like Angry Birds we’re confident that we’ve got a formula in place to replicate that success.”

Sophia adds: “One of the things we learned on our degrees at NUA was the importance of planning a project and being realistic about what can be achieved in a time frame. This was vital for us in delivering a completed prototype that was ready to play for the public at ProtoPlay.”

Rosie says: “I think our game stood out because it is designed for people to be able to pick up and play straight away. At Protoplay we had lots of young people playing the game but also their parents were getting into it too. The competition has been such a great opportunity to make contacts with other talented games designers, people in the games industry and also people outside the industry but that also make games. For example I have met people from Disney and CBeebies and that’s given me a lot to think about.”

NUA Games Art and Design Course Leader Marie-Claire Isaaman says: “I am delighted by the success my students have gained by winning Dare to be Digital. It is testament to the high level of professionalism developed on the course.

“We encourage students to understand professional industry practice and develop an eye for market trends in a rapidly developing sector as well as creating innovative game design and original art styles. The course has approved Apple University developers status and encourages the development of IP for iOS platforms. The game Tick Tock Toys was designed and developed for the iPad by NUA students and has been praised for its unique and innovative core mechanics, progressive marketing and merchandising strategies and stunning art work.”

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