‘Generation-Tech: Crossing the Digital Divide’ – 10th November

Academics from the University of Dundee are inviting the public to cross the digital divide as part of this year’s Dundee Science Festival.

On Thursday, 10th November, computing researchers will lead the ‘Generation-Tech: Crossing the Digital Divide’ event at the Queen Mother Building. They will discuss the ways in which technology can be designed to deliver social and healthcare benefits for older and disabled people while interactive research stations will offer hands-on opportunities for visitors to engage with projects developed at the University.

Dr Jon Urch, Public Outreach Officer at the University, said, “This year we are hosting fascinating events on our campus that give everyone the chance to visit our excellent facilities and meet our researchers. The event focuses on our strengths in health and wellbeing and shaping the future with design.

“It’s an exciting time for city and the University, with science and design essential to our successes. I’d encourage everyone to book their free place at these events to explore how science is shaping the world around us.”

Tickets can be obtained from www.dundeesciencefestival.org.

The University has been running events on consecutive Thursday evenings throughout the 2016 festival, while its researchers have been taking part in many of the other talks, workshops and public engagement sessions.

Launched in 2010, Dundee Science Festival, aims to engage and inspire the whole community through its celebration of science and lifelong learning across the city of Dundee - attracting people from all ages and backgrounds.

Posted on: Monday, 7 November, 2016 - 10:13

TIGA, the network for games developers and digital publishers and the trade association for the UK video games industry, has recommended that Scotland should introduce a Scottish Video Games Fund to improve studios’ access to finance and establish a Growth Accelerator Programme to promote commercial advice and investor readiness programmes to games developers. These measures would improve studios’ prospects for commercial success and enhance the Scottish video games industry. TIGA made the proposals in its Manifesto for the Scottish Video Games Industry 2016 which it published today, ahead of the election for the Scottish Parliament on May 5th 2016.

The Scottish video games industry is a success story with notable businesses and studios including Rockstar North, 4J Studios, Blazing Griffin Games, Codeplay, Denki, Delta Dna, Ninja Kiwi Europe, Reagent Games, Ruffian Games, Dimensional Imaging and Speech Graphics.

TIGA research from December 2014[1] indicates that Scotland had 1,050 permanent and full-time equivalent creative staff working on games development in 97 companies This represents 11.1 per cent of the UK’s total games companies and 9.7 per cent of the UK’s total developer headcount. Scotland’s games development sector supports an additional 1,920 indirect jobs. Annually, Scottish games development companies are estimated to make a direct and indirect contribution of nearly £108 million to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Yet the Scottish games industry faces important barriers to growth:
 

  • Access to finance remains a challenge. According to TIGA’s research, 52 per cent of UK games businesses are held back by a lack of capital.[2]
  • Discoverability is a significant challenge for start-up studios, particularly in the mobile and tablet space. The degree of competition in this market means that without an effective approach to discoverability the studio will struggle.
  • The industry suffers from skill shortages. There are shortages of senior analysts, producers, engine programmers and above all there are skill gaps in business and commercial skills.

Dr Richard Wilson, CEO, TIGA comments:

“The video games sector in Scotland is a success story with significant potential. It is exactly the kind of industry that policy makers should be supporting: it is R&D intensive, provides high skilled employment and is export focused. Yet too many studios face difficulty accessing finance, the industry suffers from some specific skills shortages and discoverability of games is a major challenge.

“TIGA’s Manifesto for the Scottish Video Games Industry 2016 sets out a clear, concise and comprehensive programme to grow the industry. In particular, Scotland should introduce a Scottish Video Games Fund to improve studios’ access to finance and establish a Growth Accelerator Programme to promote commercial advice and investor readiness programmes to games developers. These measures would give a boost to studios, enhance the Scottish video games industry and support the wider Scottish video games industry.”

David Hamilton, Director, UK Operations, Ninja Kiwi Europe, Dundee:

"The Manifesto for the Scottish Games Industry published by TIGA sets out proposals to help grow the industry. TIGA work tirelessly to strengthen the games industry and we support the proposals included in this manifesto. The games industry in Scotland has been a huge success and the introduction of a Scottish Video Games Fund will ensure success going forward."

Andrew Richards, CEO, Codeplay, Edinburgh:

"TIGA have done an excellent job of collecting together really practical ways of helping Scotland's video games industry to grow, create jobs and export. We would like candidates in this election to take a good look at all of these well thought out proposals."

Chris Stamp, Studio Director, Kobojo UK, Dundee:

“Scotland has a wealth of creative and technical talent in the games sector which, although already punching well above its weight globally, is still far from fulfilling its full potential in terms of the direct economic benefit to the Scottish and UK economies. The measures outlined in TIGA’s Manifesto for the Scottish Video Games Industry represent some practical, achievable steps towards ensuring that Scottish video games businesses are able to bring a bigger share of the rewards from this major modern industry into our economy, and lay the path for a new generation of success stories.”

Steve Cartwright, Head of Video Games Sector Group, Henderson Loggie Chartered Accountants, Dunee:

“Scotland is already a significant industry player but has potential to really punch above its weight when it comes to games development. That won’t happen unless Government is prepared to give companies the capital, confidence and skills required to grow into global success stories. As business advisors we use our sector expertise to guide companies through the various stages of growth and ensure their business model fits their ambitions. There is no doubt that a Scottish Video Games Fund and the commercial support recommended by TIGA would deliver the boost needed for growth.”

Summary of TIGA’s Proposals

 

  1. A Scottish Video Games Fund (VGF) should be established in order to improve studios’ access to finance, stimulate new content development and IP generation. The VGF could make grants or loans available to games businesses on a pound for pound, matched funding basis. The Scottish Video Games Fund could be managed by Scottish Enterprise or by Creative Scotland.
  2. The Scottish Government and Parliament should encourage the UK Government to enhance Video Games Tax Relief. Additionally, the Scottish Government and Parliament should monitor the number of Scottish games businesses benefiting from the Relief and encourage more Scottish games businesses to take advantage of Video Games Tax Relief.
  3. The Scottish Government and Parliament should encourage the UK Government to increase the amount of money that a company can raise via Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) investment from £150,000 to £200,000 per annum. This reflects the rise in development budgets required to make internationally competitive games.
  4. The Scottish Government and Parliament should introduce a Growth Accelerator Programme to promote commercial advice and investor readiness programmes to games developers and to connect them with finance providers in order to maximise their prospects of commercial success.
  5. The Scottish Government and Parliament should ask the UK Government to introduce a pilot Training Tax Relief (TTR) for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), initially in the creative industries. TTR would operate in a similar way to the existing R&D tax credits and would enable SMEs to offset expenditure on training, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for staff and education outreach activities against corporation tax.
  6. The Scottish Government and Parliament should encourage the UK Government and Migration Advisory Committee to add specialist roles to the Shortage Occupation List. The additional roles include (but are not limited to): Game Analyst, Senior Game Artist, Senior Game Designer, Senior Producer, Engine Programmer, Machine Vision and Software Tools Engineers). This will enable games businesses to address skill shortages in highly specialised roles.
  7. The Scottish Government should ensure that there is a relatively high level of investment in higher education as a proportion of GDP. Additionally, Scottish universities and developers should continue to work closely together to maintain and to enhance the quality of courses (e.g. by teaching business skills), to promote knowledge transfer and to manage industry placements.
  8. Scotland’s universities should consider setting up Games Development Incubators to promote start-ups and to foster games studio clusters.
  9. UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and Scottish Development International (SDI) should enable more UK video games businesses to maximise their export potential. Additionally, UKTI and SDI should identify, engage and persuade more major non-UK games development and publishing businesses in the world to invest in Scotland.

 

Posted on: Thursday, 28 April, 2016 - 10:46

Further to the inaugural 2015 Games Jam event for primary seven pupils who participated in a school based Code Club, this year’s Games Jam will host 64 pupils, representing 16 schools across the authority. The pupils will work collaboratively in teams of four to plan, create and design their own game using Scratch. The curricular focus will be to develop learners’ understanding and skills in technologies, literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing, as well as raising the confidence and aspiration of our young people which underpin the four capacities in Curriculum for Excellence.

 

Posted on: Monday, 25 April, 2016 - 13:00

University of Dundee researchers are to bring the work of ancient Greek and Roman scholars together with cutting-edge technology to solve an Artificial Intelligence challenge that offers potentially huge benefits for stock market analysts, academics, the PR industry and political parties.

 

They have been awarded funding for a project worth more than £1.1million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop new tools to carry out argument mining, a relatively new field of AI and one regarded as having exceptional academic, commercial and cultural potential. They will work with software giants IBM and other partners to bring the technology to fruition by the end of 2019.

 

AI algorithms already process millions of newspaper articles to determine public sentiment in order to predict financial markets. They transform the torrent of social media into reports for marketing departments, summarising what customers say about a company's (or a competitor's) product. But these techniques only give information about what opinions people hold – not why they hold them. 

 

Though argument technology, in which the UK is a world leader, has had applications in domains as diverse as healthcare, public policy, government and the media, the focus has been squarely upon technologies for supporting human argumentation and subsequent automated reasoning with the results. 

 

Arguments made outside such software-walled gardens have been off the agenda simply because automatic machine understanding of unfettered naturally occurring reasoning has been too hard to tackle.

 

The concerted efforts of a small number of researchers across the world, including those at the University’s Centre for Argument Technology, have moved the field on to the point that the Dundee team now believe the ESPRC grant will enable them to develop algorithms for automatically extracting the structure of human reasoning from documents and web pages.

 

“Understanding the why has the potential to unlock huge new markets but until very recently this was just too tough for AI to crack,” explained Professor Chris Reed, Head of the Centre for Argument Technology.

 

“Until about two years ago argument mining was firmly beyond state-of-the-art but the last eighteen months have seen dozens of AI labs around the world gearing up to tackle the problem. The competition is intense, but this new investment from EPSRC puts the UK at the very forefront of this exciting new area.

 

“Opinion mining has transformed the way that market research and PR is carried out, deploying big data analysis techniques to understand the attitudes people hold towards products and brands. Sentiment analysis has had an even greater impact in predicting financial markets by analysing broad moods and perspectives that are expressed in the press. 

 

“Argument mining is the natural evolution of these technologies, providing a step change in the level of detail available – moving from not just analysing what opinions people hold, but to why they hold the opinions they do. It has immense potential for computer understanding of human reasoning.”

 

The algorithm that Professor Reed and his colleagues are aiming to develop will identify the argumentative structures in digital texts using the techniques deployed by classical Greek and Roman philosophers such as Aristotle and Cicero. By doing this they will transform bare, statistically driven approaches with detailed theories of structure which can act to define expectations in a way that constrains the machine learning task thereby improving accuracy and applicability.

 

Professor Reed continued, “Our theories of how argument is structured go back to Ancient Greece. In the past thirty years or so, the computational sciences have started to build models and engineer software based on these theories: this is the field of argument technology, and the recent surge in activity is testament to the vitality and broad applicability of the field.

 

“Argument and debate form cornerstones of civilised society and of intellectual life. Processes of argumentation run our governments, structure scientific endeavour and frame religious belief. Recognising and understanding argument are central to decision-making and professional activity in all walks of life. It is why such a premium is placed upon these skills and why rationality is one of the very defining notions of what it is to be human.

 

“We are particularly pleased to be working on this project with several companies including IBM, whose cognitive computing platform, Watson, provides us with an ideal way of deploying argument mining techniques to real-world problems.”

 

Posted on: Tuesday, 29 September, 2015 - 14:19

International game music superstar Chipzel, who creates dance music from Game Boy consoles, will open Scotland’s biggest video games festival tomorrow (Thursday 13 August).

Dare ProtoPlay is held as the finale of Abertay University’s Dare to be Digital game design competition, which this year sees 16 teams of students building games at their home universities.

The students then travel to Dundee to show their games to the public. Last year’s Dare ProtoPlay festival attracted over 13,000 people across four days.

There will be photo and interview opportunities. All members of the media are welcome to attend.

Dare ProtoPlay runs from Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 August in Dundee’s Caird Hall and City Square. The festival is free and suitable for all ages.

For more information, please visit www.dareprotoplay.com

Posted on: Wednesday, 12 August, 2015 - 14:04

An innovative 3D interactive app* allowing users to explore Dundee Central Waterfront in 2018, including the interior of the forthcoming V&A Museum of Design Dundee, has been launched online.

 

Developed in Scotland by Edinburgh-based Luma 3D Interactive, a leading specialist 3D consultancy, the ‘Dundee Waterfront 2018’ app, which is free, is at the cutting edge of interactive mobile technologies. The free app provides a detailed insight into how the central Dundee Waterfront could look in 2018 and beyond.

 

Users can explore the city’s new boulevards, view the new Railway Station, explore Slessor Gardens (the new civic space) and take a bird’s eye view of the marina, new hotels, leisure, retail, business and residential areas.  The next phase of the app will go live in August, allowing users to point their devices at the V&A Dundee site hoardings to view a fully rendered 3D visualisation of the completed design museum.

 

Mike Galloway, Director of City Development at Dundee City Council said: “The 3D app is an astonishing piece of technology that unveils how Dundee Waterfront will look in the future.  We are expecting a surge in tourism and visitor numbers as the waterfront develops, so the app will allow prospective visitors or investors a chance to virtually visit and experience Dundee Waterfront now”.

 

Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee said: “"This app helps bring V&A Dundee and its superb location on the waterfront at the very heart of the city to life‎ in a fun and inspiring way. In creating Scotland's first design museum, we want to embrace the latest interactive digital technologies ‎to showcase and celebrate the best of Scottish innovation and design."

 

Kevin Archibald, Production Director at Luma 3D Interactive said: “We have created a 3D app that is at the forefront both technically and creatively in this field and will help take the Dundee Waterfront Project to a much wider audience. It’s great to work on a project of this profile that allows us to demonstrate how Scotland is leading the way in this design technology.”

 

 

 

Dundee Waterfront continues to progress to plan and to schedule.  A number of new buildings are being developed, including H&H Properties residential development, the new railway station and V&A Dundee.  A growing number of investment enquiries from businesses and entrepreneurs – many new to the city – should result in a range of new enterprises opening during the next few years.

 

Dundee is expected to attract £1billion tourism revenue during the coming decade, creating demand for hotels, hospitality, leisure and service businesses.  V&A Dundee will be a key driver of tourism, and help stimulate opportunities for new businesses keen to invest in these sectors.

 

Thousands of new jobs are being created together with a wide range of new career opportunities. Creating a city with a vibrant economy in which the next generation can thrive and prosper has been at the heart of strategic planning.

 

The ‘Dundee Waterfront 2018’ app can be downloaded at:

 

www.dundeewaterfront.com/interactive

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dundee-waterfront-v-dundee/id1014612228?mt=8

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.DundeeWF.tour&hl=en

 

 * Developed for iPad and Android - optimised for retina display, iPad4+ and Android Tablets 4.4+ (kitkat)

Posted on: Wednesday, 29 July, 2015 - 14:38

TIGA, the network for game developers and digital publishers, and trade association representing the UK video games industry, released new findings today which show that employment in the Scottish video games development sector grew by 9 per cent in 2014.

This increase is broadly in line with the rest of the UK, and is accompanied by growth in the number of Scottish game development studios as well as a rise in Scottish games industry investment.

The findings come from TIGA’s definitive annual report into the state and health of the UK videogame industry Making Games in the UK Today: 2015 which is based on a rigorous and extensive survey of UK games businesses, with analysis by Games Investor Consulting.

TIGA’s research shows that for Scotland’s games industry, between December 2013 and December 2014:

the number of game development studios grew from 94 to 97, an increase of 3.2 per cent;
the number of creative staff in studios grew from 964 to 1,050, an increase of 8.9 per cent;
the number of jobs indirectly supported by studios rose from 1,762 to 1,920, an increase of 9 per cent;
combined direct and indirect tax revenues generated by the sector for the Treasury increased from £41 million to £44 million, an increase of 8.9 per cent;
annual investment by studios rose from £45 million to £49 million, an increase of 8.9 per cent; and
the games development sector’s contribution to UK GDP increased from £99 million to nearly £108 million, an increase of 9.1 per cent.

This means that Scotland now represents 11.1 per cent of the UK’s total games companies. This compares to 11.4 per cent in 2013 and 8.8 per cent in 2012.

Scotland also represents 9.7 per cent of the UK’s total developer headcount, which is unchanged from 2013, and up from 9 per cent in 2012.

Games Tax Relief in Scotland

Following TIGA’s eight-year campaign for Games Tax Relief (GTR), the EU Commission finally authorised the measure in the UK in March 2014. GTR has since been rolled out and, as at April 2015, 19 games had received final certification and 48 games had received interim certification[1] from the British Film Institute having received the cultural approval necessary for GTR eligibility[2].

New research from TIGA and Games Investor Consulting indicates the impact of GTR in Scotland. Over five years, GTR in Scotland:
 

should create over 260 new studio jobs and safeguard over 140 existing studio jobs;
should create over 400 indirect jobs and protect nearly 260 indirect jobs that risk being lost if Games Tax Relief is repealed;
GTR should therefore create and protect 1,060 direct and indirect jobs
GTR should continue to increase investment from games development companies by over £34m and protect investment by £4m that could be under threat without GTR;
it should raise tax receipts by £44m and protect an additional £16m if GTR is not delivered;
GTR should increase the Scottish games industry’s GDP contribution by £108m and protect an additional £39m that could result from a decline scenario without GTR.

Posted on: Monday, 27 July, 2015 - 10:26

Background:

From 1 January 2015, for all ‘digital' supplies to EU consumers, VAT will be due in the country of consumption rather than in the country where the supplier is based.

The new rules do not just apply to companies like Amazon - they also apply to UK businesses making supplies to consumers in other EU member states.Example: Where a UK consumer downloads an e-book onto their Kindle, Amazon will in future pay VAT in the UK rather than in Luxembourg, where they are based.

These changes will protect over £5 billion of UK revenue and help many UK businesses who face unfair competition from low vat competitors.

Many small and micro-businesses selling digital services have raised concerns about the impact on them. At £81,000, the UK has the most generous VAT registration threshold in the EU and over 2 million (around half) of UK businesses fall under this. The UK argued strongly for a cross-border threshold so that the smallest businesses would be outside the system, there was no support from other Member States or the Commission.

Measures to help small and micro-businesses

There are several aspects that will be helpful to many businesses, but the situation could still potentially be more burdensome than pre-January 2015.

If a micro or small business trades through a third party platform or marketplace it will be the responsibility of the marketplace operator to account for the VAT.

Any small and micro-businesses selling digital services that are affected, can also opt to use the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) online service for supplies to consumers in other Member States. The Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) allows businesses to account for all the VAT due throughout the EU via a single registration and simple process (HMRC's UK MOSS has been open since October 2014)

HMRC have confirmed that for those making ‘digital' supplies to EU consumers this threshold still applies on UK activity and the Mini One stop shop is available for any cross border provision.

HMRC continues to provide guidance to all businesses, including via channels such as Twitter, to ensure they understand all their optionsWhere do I get further help and advice? About the changes: www.gov.uk/vat-on-digital-services-in-the-eu

More detailed guidance: www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-supplying-digital-services-and-th... are digital services?

Digital services include things like:o broadcasting - the supply of television or radio programso telecommunications - fixed and mobile telephony, fax and connection to the interneto e-services - video on demand, downloaded applications (or ‘apps’), music downloads, gaming, e-books, anti-virus software and online auctions What is the impact on EU/UK businesses?

The changes will affect EU businesses which supply digital services to non-business customers in other Member States, as local VAT will now become due on those sales.

In principle, businesses affected should register for VAT in all the Member States in which they have consumers. The changes are, however, supported by an optional (for business) facilitation measure - the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS).

This enables the EU business to register in just one Member State and account for VAT due in all other Member States using a single return and making a single payment covering all the VAT due.What about small and micro-businesses?

Many small and micro-businesses selling digital services will not be affected as they trade through a third party platform or marketplace (e.g. an app store).

Where this happens it will be the responsibility of the marketplace operator to account for the VAT.

Any small and micro-businesses selling digital services that are affected, can opt to use the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) online service for supplies to consumers in other Member States.Can we reverse these changes?

No – and we wouldn’t want to, given the revenue risks and the unfair competitive advantages that would otherwise fall to certain businesses. It would need a proposal from the EU Commission and the unanimous agreement of all 28 MSs to reverse or alter these changes.Why doesn’t the threshold apply here?

The VAT registration threshold applies to UK domestic turnover. It doesn’t apply to cross-border sales.

That is because the VAT is not UK VAT. There is no cross-border threshold for services in EU law.

Although we could go back to the Commission and Member States and again seek the introduction of a minimum threshold (e.g. between £1k and £5k) for cross-border digital service supplies, it is very probable that those Member States with low or zero domestic VAT registration threshold would be opposed for fear it would undercut their businesses.

Posted on: Wednesday, 10 December, 2014 - 14:54

Design in Action Technology Accelerator Chiasma (TAC): Friday 16th January and Friday 30th January, Double Tree by Hilton, Dundee
Design in Action (www.designinaction.com) along with the University of Dundee's Research and Innovation Services (RIS) invites applications from business, organisations, designers and University of Dundee academics whose discipline has a strong digital imaging focus to take part in the first Technology Accelerator Chiasma (TAC) workshop. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded people and create a new product or service with up to £40k funding available for commercialisation.
Digital imaging has a huge impact on many aspects of our society, from early disease detection to forensic identification, disaster recovery to climate change visualisation. There are potentially significant global markets that are predicted to rise in the next few years, positioning digital imaging at the forefront of research across many sectors with the capacity to help millions of people across the world.
Design can also play a pivotal role in capitalising and facilitating innovation, as well as taking ideas and realising their commercial potential. 'Our Digital Imaging Futures' TAC will bring world-renowned scientists from the University of Dundee together with designers to work with businesses and organisations in order to capitalise on our collective assets (e.g. knowledge, patents, networks).
With Dundee recently being named as one of the UNESCO 'Cities of Design' around the world, what better time to examine the impact design can have on research!
The Chiasma will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Dundee, from 9am-9pm on Day 1 and 9am - 8pm on Day 2. The event is free to attend and all meals will be provided throughout the event and reasonable travel expenses reimbursed. We can also cover accommodation in the hotel, if required. Designers who meet the qualifying criteria will also have the opportunity to apply for a Design Support Grant worth up to £500 to attend.
APPLY ONLINE: http://www.designinaction.com/chiasmas(closing date for applications is 4pm, Monday 15th December 2014)

Posted on: Tuesday, 2 December, 2014 - 12:17

Dundee researcher’s image voted winner of `Images with Impact’

A stunning image produced by a University of Dundee researcher has been voted the winner of the `Images with Impact’ competition.

The image produced by Ian Newton, from the College of Life Sciences at Dundee, wowed visitors to the Great British Bioscience Festival. It showed microtubules but provoked comparisons with Edvard Munch’s famous painting `The Scream’. It was one of eighteen shortlisted pictures on which the public were asked to vote.

“I am delighted with the result,” said Ian. “The image was produced as part of an experiment thanks to excellent image facilities at the University of Dundee. The fact it bears striking similarity to a famous painting was totally coincidental. As happens at times with science, something totally unexpected appears that can be very beautiful.”

The Images with Impact competition was organised by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and sought the best photos that represent how life sciences are changing the world, in areas like food, farming, bioenergy, biotech, industry and health.

Professor Jackie Hunter, BBSRC Chief Executive, said “The wonderful, thought-provoking pictures received through our Images with Impact competition demonstrate the beauty of bioscience, which we have been celebrating in our 20th anniversary year. The competition has proven to be a brilliant opportunity to showcase to the public, interesting perspectives on the range of world-leading bioscience BBSRC funds in the UK.”

Overall winner: Microtubules in vitro by Ian Newton, University of Dundee

Download image at: https://media.bbsrc.ac.uk/link/be209e779cdc4b58bdb520ee33fc864c.jpg

Posted on: Wednesday, 26 November, 2014 - 00:42

Research at Abertay University helped the blockbuster Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, by bringing computer games technology into the film’s pre-production stage.
The film, which is released on DVD next week, was the biggest hit this summer at the UK box office.
Abertay Lecturer Matthew Bett has spent the last few years developing a new way of controlling ‘virtual cameras’.
Using affordable motion controllers designed for PC gaming, Matthew linked the power of a virtual camera – where a computer simulates what a film camera could see – to this affordable hardware, which was previously only intended for home gaming use.
The benefit for the pre-production stage of film production is allowing the use of these techniques, at a stage of production where they were previously unavailable due to prohibitive cost.
Film sets can be created in a game design package and freely explored by hand, switching between different camera lenses and saving individual viewpoints and ‘filming’ sections to discuss with a film’s creative team.
Matthew Bett, Computer Games Technology Lecturer at Abertay University, said: “It’s incredible that an Abertay University research project has helped pre-visualise Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a huge blockbuster film that reached millions of people around the world.
“Our project was initially inspired by amazing but prohibitively expensive developments in virtual camera technology, where filmmakers participate in real time with the computer generated worlds being created for feature films.
“What we did was adapt that exciting idea of a virtual camera to affordable games technology, allowing 3D worlds to be quickly built to test out film ideas – and with motion controllers, you can then wave your arm to test a tracking shot, or try out different angles.”
Matthew was awarded a Scottish Enterprise Fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2011 in recognition of the technical innovation of his research, and to support its further commercial development.
The research project was also supported by programmer Erin Michno, who went on to co-found award-winning game studio Quartic Llama after graduating from Abertay University.
Matthew Bett added: “When we started developing this virtual cinematography tool we had no idea it would reach the attention of world-leading filmmakers and technicians at Fox who would embrace what we were trying to achieve.
“Now we’re focused on developing the technology further, integrating it with virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift, and exploring other ways we can apply this to animation and film production.”
The Abertay researchers built their system using the Razer Hydra motion controller, which uses electromagnetic sensors to capture the controller’s position and orientation to a precise single-millimetre accuracy. Unlike some other motion controllers this still works even when an object is in the way.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is directed by Matt Reeves and stars Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Enrique Murciano and Kirk Acevedo.
Research at Abertay University helped the blockbuster Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, by bringing computer games technology into the film’s pre-production stage.

The film, which is released on DVD next week, was the biggest hit this summer at the UK box office.

Abertay Lecturer Matthew Bett has spent the last few years developing a new way of controlling ‘virtual cameras’.

Using affordable motion controllers designed for PC gaming, Matthew linked the power of a virtual camera – where a computer simulates what a film camera could see – to this affordable hardware, which was previously only intended for home gaming use.

The benefit for the pre-production stage of film production is allowing the use of these techniques, at a stage of production where they were previously unavailable due to prohibitive cost.

Film sets can be created in a game design package and freely explored by hand, switching between different camera lenses and saving individual viewpoints and ‘filming’ sections to discuss with a film’s creative team.

Matthew Bett, Computer Games Technology Lecturer at Abertay University, said: “It’s incredible that an Abertay University research project has helped pre-visualise Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a huge blockbuster film that reached millions of people around the world.

“Our project was initially inspired by amazing but prohibitively expensive developments in virtual camera technology, where filmmakers participate in real time with the computer generated worlds being created for feature films.

“What we did was adapt that exciting idea of a virtual camera to affordable games technology, allowing 3D worlds to be quickly built to test out film ideas – and with motion controllers, you can then wave your arm to test a tracking shot, or try out different angles.”

Matthew was awarded a Scottish Enterprise Fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2011 in recognition of the technical innovation of his research, and to support its further commercial development.

The research project was also supported by programmer Erin Michno, who went on to co-found award-winning game studio Quartic Llama after graduating from Abertay University.

Matthew Bett added: “When we started developing this virtual cinematography tool we had no idea it would reach the attention of world-leading filmmakers and technicians at Fox who would embrace what we were trying to achieve.

“Now we’re focused on developing the technology further, integrating it with virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift, and exploring other ways we can apply this to animation and film production.”

The Abertay researchers built their system using the Razer Hydra motion controller, which uses electromagnetic sensors to capture the controller’s position and orientation to a precise single-millimetre accuracy. Unlike some other motion controllers this still works even when an object is in the way.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is directed by Matt Reeves and stars Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Enrique Murciano and Kirk Acevedo.

Posted on: Friday, 21 November, 2014 - 14:27

The V&A’s first ever Game Designer in Residence, Sophia George, will today (Friday 24 October) launch a brand new iPad game inspired by the work of William Morris.
The new game takes its title, Strawberry Thief, from a William Morris furnishing fabric on display in the V&A’s Britain 1500-1900 galleries. The game enables the user to sketch and colour the famous pattern by flying a bird – the strawberry thief itself – across their iPad screen.
As the player drags their finger across the screen, it leaves a trail for the bird to follow – and each section of the pattern it flies over then transforms from a pencil sketch to the coloured pattern.
Animations and music from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) gradually bring Morris’ pattern to life in an experience designed for players of all ages.
Sophia researched her game between October 2013 and March 2014 in the V&A, before returning to Abertay University to develop the game with Erin Michno from game studio Quartic Llama, Neil Cullen from RSNO and Abertay students Ellen Brown and Cameron Moore.
Sophia George said: “I’m delighted to be releasing my second game, Strawberry Thief, after a wonderful year working in the V&A and at Abertay University. It’s been an incredible opportunity to have access to the V&A collections, and to the game design experts at Abertay. With Strawberry Thief I wanted to show that games are an incredibly artistic, creative medium that can excite, inspire and even relax the player, quite unlike the stereotype of games just involving fast-paced violence. It’s also very important to me that families play games together, that games are designed for older people to engage with technology, and that girls and young women see game art, design and programming as real career options for them.”
Sophia won a BAFTA Ones to Watch Award in 2012 for her first game, Tick Tock Toys, through Abertay University’s Dare to be Digital game design competition for students.
Her next project will see Sophia introducing game design to primary school pupils in Dundee, working with Dundee City Council and Abertay. She will introduce inspirations from her V&A research as the building blocks for game ideas – including the works of Margaret Macdonald, the wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and her sister Frances.
Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee, partners in the Residency, said: “It's wonderful to see the way in which Sophia has responded to the V&A's historic design holdings in creating her Strawberry Thief game. Taking inspiration from design of the past to produce new innovative design is at the heart of the V&A, so we are delighted to be working with such a rising star as Sophia George.”
Professor Louis Natanson, Head of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abertay University, said: “Sophia is a very inspiring young designer, and Strawberry Thief gives us a glimpse of the potential for games to explore new ways of interpreting and exhibiting the work of famous artists. Working in partnership with V&A has allowed their expertise in art and design and our experience in game development to help create a beautiful new game.”
Game development was supported by the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee, which funds an Innovation Internship each summer for a student at Abertay University.
Strawberry Thief is available free from the App Store on iPad or at www.AppStore.com/StrawberryThief
The V&A’s first ever Game Designer in Residence, Sophia George, will today (Friday 24 October) launch a brand new iPad game inspired by the work of William Morris.

The new game takes its title, Strawberry Thief, from a William Morris furnishing fabric on display in the V&A’s Britain 1500-1900 galleries. The game enables the user to sketch and colour the famous pattern by flying a bird – the strawberry thief itself – across their iPad screen.

As the player drags their finger across the screen, it leaves a trail for the bird to follow – and each section of the pattern it flies over then transforms from a pencil sketch to the coloured pattern.

Animations and music from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) gradually bring Morris’ pattern to life in an experience designed for players of all ages.

Sophia researched her game between October 2013 and March 2014 in the V&A, before returning to Abertay University to develop the game with Erin Michno from game studio Quartic Llama, Neil Cullen from RSNO and Abertay students Ellen Brown and Cameron Moore.

Sophia George said: “I’m delighted to be releasing my second game, Strawberry Thief, after a wonderful year working in the V&A and at Abertay University. It’s been an incredible opportunity to have access to the V&A collections, and to the game design experts at Abertay. With Strawberry Thief I wanted to show that games are an incredibly artistic, creative medium that can excite, inspire and even relax the player, quite unlike the stereotype of games just involving fast-paced violence. It’s also very important to me that families play games together, that games are designed for older people to engage with technology, and that girls and young women see game art, design and programming as real career options for them.”

Sophia won a BAFTA Ones to Watch Award in 2012 for her first game, Tick Tock Toys, through Abertay University’s Dare to be Digital game design competition for students.

Her next project will see Sophia introducing game design to primary school pupils in Dundee, working with Dundee City Council and Abertay. She will introduce inspirations from her V&A research as the building blocks for game ideas – including the works of Margaret Macdonald, the wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and her sister Frances.

Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee, partners in the Residency, said: “It's wonderful to see the way in which Sophia has responded to the V&A's historic design holdings in creating her Strawberry Thief game. Taking inspiration from design of the past to produce new innovative design is at the heart of the V&A, so we are delighted to be working with such a rising star as Sophia George.”

Professor Louis Natanson, Head of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abertay University, said: “Sophia is a very inspiring young designer, and Strawberry Thief gives us a glimpse of the potential for games to explore new ways of interpreting and exhibiting the work of famous artists. Working in partnership with V&A has allowed their expertise in art and design and our experience in game development to help create a beautiful new game.”

Game development was supported by the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee, which funds an Innovation Internship each summer for a student at Abertay University.

Strawberry Thief is available free from the App Store on iPad or at www.AppStore.com/StrawberryThief

Posted on: Friday, 24 October, 2014 - 09:56

The three nominees for the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award were revealed today (Sunday 10 August) at Dare ProtoPlay, Scotland’s biggest video games festival.
These three games were the winners of Dare to be Digital, an international game design competition for students run annually by Abertay University in Dundee.
Each summer, 15 teams of five students are picked to develop a new game in just eight weeks, before facing the scrutiny of thousands of members of the public. Over 13,000 members of the public visited the free four-day festival this year.
This year teams from as far afield as China, India, Malta and the USA travelled to Dundee for the Dare to be Digital student competition.
The winners were samurai stealth game Chambara; action game Don’t Walk: Run, where three players compete as a film’s actors escaping the wrath of its world-controlling director; and Sagittarius, where you use the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to aim a crossbow from a moving chariot.
Kevin Wong from Overly Kinetic, the creators of Chambara, said: “We’re all really honoured and really excited to get a BAFTA nomination, and to see all the children come to our booth and enjoy the game so much. That’s what we live for.”
Vivek Deshpande from Too Mainstream, the creators of Sagittarius, said: “We’re elated, we really didn’t think we’d win. All the Dare to be Digital games are incredible. After this, we’ll go back to India and develop the game further, and are hoping to release it in the near future.”
Niall Taylor from Torque, the creators of Don’t Walk: Run, said: “This is amazing, I don’t believe it – we nearly fell off our chairs. Everything has completely changed in our lives in the last eight weeks.”
For the second year running, the three main awards were sponsored by PlayStation®First, the academic development programme of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.
Luke Savage, Academic Development Manager at PlayStation®First, said: “Dare to be Digital is such a unique game competition. It’s a terrific showcase of the next generation of game developers, which is why we’re delighted to support the three main awards again this year.
“PlayStation®First is fostering the next generation of talented individuals looking to get into the games industry, and we can’t wait to see what the Dare to be Digital teams do next.”
Don’t Walk: Run also won the Channel 4 Award. The team will receive £25,000 of support to start a business and complete their game, which will then be published by the broadcaster.
The Design in Action Award for Commercial Potential went to A Fox Wot I Drew for their game Baum. The team will receive financial support and mentoring to bring their game to market.
The Artistic Achievement Award, sponsored by the Foundry, went to Seek by team Five Pixels.
The Audience Award for the most popular game of the festival went to World Eater by Taleforge, and the Team Choice Award went to the Pillowettes.
As well as the 15 students games in the marquee in the centre of Dundee, dozens of games were shown across the four days in the Caird Hall.
These independent games companies were all able to compete for the £25,000 Creative Scotland Ground-Breaking Innovative Game Award. The prize went to Future Fossil Studios.
Entrants to the Future Internet Games Contest were also on show, run by the Future Internet Consortium. This competition was looking for experimental pervasive games that enable large groups of people to play together in the real world and went to IasAR by Ateo.
The winner of the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award will be announced early next year at the British Academy Games Awards in London.
For more information about the competition and the festival, please visit http://www.daretobedigital.com/

Posted on: Monday, 11 August, 2014 - 09:32

The first ever Game Designer in Residence at the V&A museum today (Thursday 7 August) opened Scotland’s biggest video games festival, Dare ProtoPlay.
The event, which is organised by Abertay University, showcases the very best of digital creativity, including the 15 games from the Dare to be Digital student competition and over 30 independent games.
Dare ProtoPlay this year also features the first public preview of Strawberry Thief, the iPad game created by V&A Game Designer Sophia George, as well as a public talk by Richard Lemarchand, Lead Game Designer on the three hit Uncharted games.
Sophia George said: “My career as a game designer all started with Dare to be Digital three years ago, so I’m delighted to be taking part in the Dare ProtoPlay festival again.
“Strawberry Thief takes the work of William Morris as its inspiration, and players guide a bird around a sketch of his iconic pattern, colouring it in and bringing the image to life.
“Computer games are an unbelievably creative medium, and one that is often overlooked. With this V&A residency I’m hoping that anyone with a love of art, design or music will start to appreciate the beauty and joy digital technology can create.”
Strawberry Thief will be launched in late 2014, with the final game building on the feedback received from the players at Dare ProtoPlay.
The residency is a partnership project between V&A, V&A Dundee and Abertay University, with audio provided by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Professor Louis Natanson, Head of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abertay University, added: “Dare ProtoPlay is always a very exciting event for the students who’ve worked so hard to create a brand new game for the Dare to be Digital competition, and the thousands of members of the public who get to play these games.
“What is perhaps most important about the festival is it brings together people of all ages to meet both emerging and professional game developers, helping the public to understand how games are made – and to inspire young people to start creating their own games.”
This year the independent companies showing their games will also be competing for a £25,000 innovation prize from Creative Scotland.
Morgan Petrie, Portfolio Manager Technology Digital Media & Market Development at Creative Scotland, said:  “We recognise Dare as an important part of the games industry in Scotland, helping in the creation of new companies and new content.
“We’re pleased to help recognise the effort that independent developers make in bringing their work to the indie fest to engage with enthusiasts – and potential developers of the future.”
Dare ProtoPlay is free and open from 10am on Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 August, with the winning games announced at 2pm on Sunday. Last year’s festival attracted 13,000 visitors of all ages across the four days.
For the second year running, the three main awards are sponsored by PlayStation®First, the academic development programme of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE).
Richard Lemarchand will speak about ‘Games and Players: Futures and Predictions’ at 6.15pm on Friday 8 August.
The UK premiere of games documentary ‘Us and the Games Industry’ is at 6.30pm on Saturday 9 August.
The festival closes with the Northern Lights Ceilidh at 8pm on Sunday 10 August, an evening of dance, digital play and traditional music. The ceilidh is part of Homecoming Scotland 2014.
For full details about the festival, and to book tickets to the evening events, please visit www.dareprotoplay.com
The first ever Game Designer in Residence at the V&A museum today (Thursday 7 August) opened Scotland’s biggest video games festival, Dare ProtoPlay.

The event, which is organised by Abertay University, showcases the very best of digital creativity, including the 15 games from the Dare to be Digital student competition and over 30 independent games.

Dare ProtoPlay this year also features the first public preview of Strawberry Thief, the iPad game created by V&A Game Designer Sophia George, as well as a public talk by Richard Lemarchand, Lead Game Designer on the three hit Uncharted games.

Sophia George said: “My career as a game designer all started with Dare to be Digital three years ago, so I’m delighted to be taking part in the Dare ProtoPlay festival again.

“Strawberry Thief takes the work of William Morris as its inspiration, and players guide a bird around a sketch of his iconic pattern, colouring it in and bringing the image to life.

“Computer games are an unbelievably creative medium, and one that is often overlooked. With this V&A residency I’m hoping that anyone with a love of art, design or music will start to appreciate the beauty and joy digital technology can create.”

Strawberry Thief will be launched in late 2014, with the final game building on the feedback received from the players at Dare ProtoPlay.

The residency is a partnership project between V&A, V&A Dundee and Abertay University, with audio provided by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Professor Louis Natanson, Head of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abertay University, added: “Dare ProtoPlay is always a very exciting event for the students who’ve worked so hard to create a brand new game for the Dare to be Digital competition, and the thousands of members of the public who get to play these games.

“What is perhaps most important about the festival is it brings together people of all ages to meet both emerging and professional game developers, helping the public to understand how games are made – and to inspire young people to start creating their own games.”

This year the independent companies showing their games will also be competing for a £25,000 innovation prize from Creative Scotland.

Morgan Petrie, Portfolio Manager Technology Digital Media & Market Development at Creative Scotland, said:  “We recognise Dare as an important part of the games industry in Scotland, helping in the creation of new companies and new content.

“We’re pleased to help recognise the effort that independent developers make in bringing their work to the indie fest to engage with enthusiasts – and potential developers of the future.”

Dare ProtoPlay is free and open from 10am on Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 August, with the winning games announced at 2pm on Sunday. Last year’s festival attracted 13,000 visitors of all ages across the four days.

For the second year running, the three main awards are sponsored by PlayStation®First, the academic development programme of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE).

Richard Lemarchand will speak about ‘Games and Players: Futures and Predictions’ at 6.15pm on Friday 8 August.

The UK premiere of games documentary ‘Us and the Games Industry’ is at 6.30pm on Saturday 9 August.

The festival closes with the Northern Lights Ceilidh at 8pm on Sunday 10 August, an evening of dance, digital play and traditional music. The ceilidh is part of Homecoming Scotland 2014.

For full details about the festival, and to book tickets to the evening events, please visit www.dareprotoplay.com

Posted on: Friday, 8 August, 2014 - 08:25

A 12-hour game jam at Abertay University this weekend (26-27 July) will challenge game developers to reinterpret one of the simplest elements of gaming – the jump.
Jump Jam is the fourth and final event in the Development Cultures workshop series run by the university’s Game Lab research unit, which provides a platform for experimental game development, cross-company collaboration and knowledge exchange.
Previous events included a day-long ‘jam’ where the developers had to build new games and new controllers using buttons, switches and cardboard boxes, and an evening seminar that explored the role of story in creating game ideas and how these are interpreted by players.
Dr Dayna Galloway, Game Design Lecturer at Abertay University, said: “The jump is a fundamental game mechanic which we see used from the earliest games to modern multi-million pound blockbusters.
“At our Development Cultures workshops we’ve been challenging game developers to think about all the tools they have at their disposal to make exciting, thoughtful or inspiring new forms of gameplay.
“This might be how they use story and characters, building brand new controllers just for a single game, or reinterpreting ideas we all take for granted.
“Jumping is a great example of this – it’s an ingrained part of gaming culture, and so it’s easily overlooked as something that can be used creatively. This could be playing with gravity or taking the idea as a metaphor for huge, life-changing decisions.
“I’m expecting some brilliant and surprising games to emerge this weekend.”
The Development Cultures series has benefited from the generous time commitment of game studios Guerilla Tea, Hidden Armada, Lucky Frame, Pixel Blimp, Quartic Llama, Space Budgie, Team Junkfish and The Secret Experiment, independent developers Michael Brough, Niall Moody and Sophia George, and researchers from Abertay’s School of Arts, Media and Computer Games.
The jam starts at 9.30am on Saturday 26 July for nine hours, with three hours of final development on Sunday morning. The final games will be presented at 1pm on Sunday.
Follow the jam on Twitter at @AbertayGameLab and with the hashtag #AGLjam
A 12-hour game jam at Abertay University this weekend (26-27 July) will challenge game developers to reinterpret one of the simplest elements of gaming – the jump.

Jump Jam is the fourth and final event in the Development Cultures workshop series run by the university’s Game Lab research unit, which provides a platform for experimental game development, cross-company collaboration and knowledge exchange.

Previous events included a day-long ‘jam’ where the developers had to build new games and new controllers using buttons, switches and cardboard boxes, and an evening seminar that explored the role of story in creating game ideas and how these are interpreted by players.

Dr Dayna Galloway, Game Design Lecturer at Abertay University, said: “The jump is a fundamental game mechanic which we see used from the earliest games to modern multi-million pound blockbusters.

“At our Development Cultures workshops we’ve been challenging game developers to think about all the tools they have at their disposal to make exciting, thoughtful or inspiring new forms of gameplay.

“This might be how they use story and characters, building brand new controllers just for a single game, or reinterpreting ideas we all take for granted.

“Jumping is a great example of this – it’s an ingrained part of gaming culture, and so it’s easily overlooked as something that can be used creatively. This could be playing with gravity or taking the idea as a metaphor for huge, life-changing decisions.

“I’m expecting some brilliant and surprising games to emerge this weekend.”

The Development Cultures series has benefited from the generous time commitment of game studios Guerilla Tea, Hidden Armada, Lucky Frame, Pixel Blimp, Quartic Llama, Space Budgie, Team Junkfish and The Secret Experiment, independent developers Michael Brough, Niall Moody and Sophia George, and researchers from Abertay’s School of Arts, Media and Computer Games.

The jam starts at 9.30am on Saturday 26 July for nine hours, with three hours of final development on Sunday morning. The final games will be presented at 1pm on Sunday.

Follow the jam on Twitter at @AbertayGameLab and with the hashtag #AGLjam

Posted on: Friday, 25 July, 2014 - 10:33

Friday 5 December 2014 – Monday 20 April 2015
Featuring over 100 playable games, Game Masters showcases the work of more than 30 leading videogame designers.
The exhibition explores the development of videogames through interviews with game designers, rare original game artwork and interactives, as well as looking forward to how independently produced games are leading the way in design, aesthetics and game play.
Friday 5 December 2014 – Monday 20 April 2015

Featuring over 100 playable games, Game Masters showcases the work of more than 30 leading videogame designers. The exhibition explores the development of videogames through interviews with game designers, rare original game artwork and interactives, as well as looking forward to how independently produced games are leading the way in design, aesthetics and game play.

Posted on: Wednesday, 2 July, 2014 - 16:09

A legend of the computer games industry, who helped to create the Microsoft Xbox, is to speak at Abertay University next Tuesday (8 July).
The event has been organised by IGDA Scotland, the Scottish chapter of the International Game Developers Association.
Ed Fries has worked in the computer games industry for over 30 years and helped to change gaming worldwide with the launch of the Xbox. As Vice President for Games Publishing he also managed the games released for Microsoft’s console.
In 2004 Ed left Microsoft to pursue other opportunities, and today he advises a number of studios and companies as well as running FigurePrints, a service providing 3D prints of player avatars from World of Warcraft.
Luke Dicken, Chair of IGDA Scotland, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the nation's game developers and I'm thrilled that IGDA Scotland has been able to arrange such an incredible guest.
“Ed's wisdom and insight have been one of the personal highlights of my time serving with him on the IGDA's Board of Directors and it is an absolute privilege to be able to share that with our community during this event."
The event will see Ed discussing his career, achievements and advice in conversation with Luke Dicken, and responding to audience questions.
Professor Louis Natanson, Head of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abertay University, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming a true legend of the games industry to Abertay University, to share his phenomenal experience of leading games publishing at Microsoft.
“Ed is a very inspirational figure to the aspiring game developers and entrepreneurs coming through Abertay University and working nearby in Dundee. There’s a great deal of excitement here ahead of his visit.”
Tickets for this event are free, but booking is required at http://igdascotland.org/edfries
A legend of the computer games industry, who helped to create the Microsoft Xbox, is to speak at Abertay University next Tuesday (8 July).

The event has been organised by IGDA Scotland, the Scottish chapter of the International Game Developers Association.

Ed Fries has worked in the computer games industry for over 30 years and helped to change gaming worldwide with the launch of the Xbox. As Vice President for Games Publishing he also managed the games released for Microsoft’s console.

In 2004 Ed left Microsoft to pursue other opportunities, and today he advises a number of studios and companies as well as running FigurePrints, a service providing 3D prints of player avatars from World of Warcraft.

Luke Dicken, Chair of IGDA Scotland, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the nation's game developers and I'm thrilled that IGDA Scotland has been able to arrange such an incredible guest.

“Ed's wisdom and insight have been one of the personal highlights of my time serving with him on the IGDA's Board of Directors and it is an absolute privilege to be able to share that with our community during this event."

The event will see Ed discussing his career, achievements and advice in conversation with Luke Dicken, and responding to audience questions.

Professor Louis Natanson, Head of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at Abertay University, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming a true legend of the games industry to Abertay University, to share his phenomenal experience of leading games publishing at Microsoft.

“Ed is a very inspirational figure to the aspiring game developers and entrepreneurs coming through Abertay University and working nearby in Dundee. There’s a great deal of excitement here ahead of his visit.”

Tickets for this event are free, but booking is required at http://igdascotland.org/edfries

Posted on: Wednesday, 2 July, 2014 - 11:48
Posted on: Tuesday, 24 June, 2014 - 10:19

The revolution in digital technology which many of us take for granted, including access to devices such as smartphones and iPads, has largely excluded many people with conditions like aphasia, which is a difficulty understanding and using language.
Now a pioneering collaboration between the aphasia support group Speakability, NHS Tayside and the University of Dundee is working with patients to provide better access to this vital digital world.
The `It’s Not One Thing’ project will see people with aphasia working with therapists, educators, designers and rehabilitation engineers to design an accessible iPad workbook. The project has been made possible by funding from the charity Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS). Aphasia can affect people who have suffered a stroke, and the charity works with speech and language therapists throughout Scotland.
“People with aphasia, which is a difficulty understanding and using language and a common consequence of stroke or head injury, are often excluded from using digital technologies,” said Helen Gowland, Chair of Speakeasy, the Tayside Speakability.
Laorag Hunter, Speech and Language Therapist working for NHS Tayside, added, “This means missing out on major benefits that have transformed the lives of able communicators in recent years. Our pilot work shows that through learning to use an iPad, people with aphasia had increased independence and effectiveness. They gained a sense of satisfaction with the acquisition of new skills, had increased communication and greater social capital. The aim of this collaboration is to make both the learning materials and the workshop model widely available to benefit people living with aphasia.”
Existing manuals that explain how to access technology often do not match the communication support needs of people with aphasia, making it impossible for them to acquire the skills to use it. During the workshops all participants will work together to co-create resources that make the use of iPads within reach for people with communication and cognitive impairments following stroke.
Rolf Black, an expert in accessible computing from the University of Dundee, said, “Learning to use digital technology offers multiple benefits and needs more than one approach to teaching, hence the name of our project `It’s not one thing’.
“Research has shown that this technology has the potential to enable people with aphasia to compensate for difficulties in understanding, recalling of words, reading and writing, enabling them to communicate with greater independence.”
CHSS Chief Executive David Clark said, “CHSS has worked with speech and language therapists throughout Scotland to help provide digital aids to communication for people with speech and language difficulties (aphasia) after stroke.  These can make a huge difference not just to their ability to communicate, but to their self-confidence, independence and whole quality of life.  We were very pleased to provide financial support for this project and look forward to helping translate the results into improved services for people affected by stroke.”
Laorag Hunter adds about origin of the project, “The Scottish Government’s ‘Right to Speak’ programme has been a trigger to our partnership project. Right to Speak is a £4million, three-year project to improve the provision and care for individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in Scotland. Our work will make resources available to more people with aphasia so they can learn to use digital technology to aid their communication and enjoy the many benefits that come with such proficiency.”
The project group, including people with aphasia, will be at the School of Computing at the University of Dundee on Thursday June 12th.
The revolution in digital technology which many of us take for granted, including access to devices such as smartphones and iPads, has largely excluded many people with conditions like aphasia, which is a difficulty understanding and using language.

Now a pioneering collaboration between the aphasia support group Speakability, NHS Tayside and the University of Dundee is working with patients to provide better access to this vital digital world.

The `It’s Not One Thing’ project will see people with aphasia working with therapists, educators, designers and rehabilitation engineers to design an accessible iPad workbook. The project has been made possible by funding from the charity Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS). Aphasia can affect people who have suffered a stroke, and the charity works with speech and language therapists throughout Scotland.

“People with aphasia, which is a difficulty understanding and using language and a common consequence of stroke or head injury, are often excluded from using digital technologies,” said Helen Gowland, Chair of Speakeasy, the Tayside Speakability.

Laorag Hunter, Speech and Language Therapist working for NHS Tayside, added, “This means missing out on major benefits that have transformed the lives of able communicators in recent years. Our pilot work shows that through learning to use an iPad, people with aphasia had increased independence and effectiveness. They gained a sense of satisfaction with the acquisition of new skills, had increased communication and greater social capital. The aim of this collaboration is to make both the learning materials and the workshop model widely available to benefit people living with aphasia.”

Existing manuals that explain how to access technology often do not match the communication support needs of people with aphasia, making it impossible for them to acquire the skills to use it. During the workshops all participants will work together to co-create resources that make the use of iPads within reach for people with communication and cognitive impairments following stroke.

Rolf Black, an expert in accessible computing from the University of Dundee, said, “Learning to use digital technology offers multiple benefits and needs more than one approach to teaching, hence the name of our project `It’s not one thing’.

“Research has shown that this technology has the potential to enable people with aphasia to compensate for difficulties in understanding, recalling of words, reading and writing, enabling them to communicate with greater independence.”

CHSS Chief Executive David Clark said, “CHSS has worked with speech and language therapists throughout Scotland to help provide digital aids to communication for people with speech and language difficulties (aphasia) after stroke.  These can make a huge difference not just to their ability to communicate, but to their self-confidence, independence and whole quality of life.  We were very pleased to provide financial support for this project and look forward to helping translate the results into improved services for people affected by stroke.”

Laorag Hunter adds about origin of the project, “The Scottish Government’s ‘Right to Speak’ programme has been a trigger to our partnership project. Right to Speak is a £4million, three-year project to improve the provision and care for individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in Scotland. Our work will make resources available to more people with aphasia so they can learn to use digital technology to aid their communication and enjoy the many benefits that come with such proficiency.”

The project group, including people with aphasia, will be at the School of Computing at the University of Dundee on Thursday June 12th.

Posted on: Thursday, 12 June, 2014 - 10:30

A new, safe social network – designed by and for young adult carers – will be launched today (Tuesday 10 June) by Dundee Carers Centre and Abertay University.
The project has run for almost a year, with staff, volunteers and carers involved with Dundee Carers Centre working with the university’s computing experts.
The UPBEET social media site is thought to be the first of its kind – developing a private, safe version of sites like Facebook, specifically for young adult carers aged 16 to 30.
The site is being launched during the UK-wide Carers Week, which runs from 9-15 June.
Lucinda Godfrey, Manager, Dundee Carers Centre, said: “The past 12 months has been an excellent example of collaboration between the Centre, Abertay University and young adult carers to ensure that our services are delivered in ways that are relevant and accessible.
“Young adult carers are demonstrating a significant contribution to our communities day in day out and this platform will be an additional way that they can be supported in that vital role.”
Dawn Carmichael, project leader from Abertay University, said: “It has been a fantastic project, using technology to help young adult carers address very real problems of isolation and feeling vulnerable.
“Social networks can help connect you to lots of different people, but because they’re so open and have very confusing privacy settings there’s a risk of people’s isolation and vulnerability being made worse.
“By building a safe social network, which is controlled by Dundee Carers Centre, we were able to take the positive aspects of social media bringing people together in a completely safe, supportive way.”
Dundee Carers Centre identified a gap between the support available for young carers and adult carers, and developed a project specifically for this group called UPBEET. UPBEET provides emotional support, group support and breaks from caring.
Following research it was identified that despite being active on social networks young adult carers felt isolated and lacked peer support.
The organisation approached computing experts at Abertay University, who suggested that they could build a private social network where young adult carers could safely interact with each other online – and access crucial support services.
The new social network is completely secure and private, with Dundee Carers Centre having full control of all personal data, unlike the publicly available social network sites.
UPBEET is funded and supported by the Big Lottery Fund.
A new, safe social network – designed by and for young adult carers – will be launched today (Tuesday 10 June) by Dundee Carers Centre and Abertay University.

The project has run for almost a year, with staff, volunteers and carers involved with Dundee Carers Centre working with the university’s computing experts.

The UPBEET social media site is thought to be the first of its kind – developing a private, safe version of sites like Facebook, specifically for young adult carers aged 16 to 30.

The site is being launched during the UK-wide Carers Week, which runs from 9-15 June.

Lucinda Godfrey, Manager, Dundee Carers Centre, said: “The past 12 months has been an excellent example of collaboration between the Centre, Abertay University and young adult carers to ensure that our services are delivered in ways that are relevant and accessible.

“Young adult carers are demonstrating a significant contribution to our communities day in day out and this platform will be an additional way that they can be supported in that vital role.”

Dawn Carmichael, project leader from Abertay University, said: “It has been a fantastic project, using technology to help young adult carers address very real problems of isolation and feeling vulnerable.

“Social networks can help connect you to lots of different people, but because they’re so open and have very confusing privacy settings there’s a risk of people’s isolation and vulnerability being made worse.

“By building a safe social network, which is controlled by Dundee Carers Centre, we were able to take the positive aspects of social media bringing people together in a completely safe, supportive way.”

Dundee Carers Centre identified a gap between the support available for young carers and adult carers, and developed a project specifically for this group called UPBEET. UPBEET provides emotional support, group support and breaks from caring.

Following research it was identified that despite being active on social networks young adult carers felt isolated and lacked peer support.

The organisation approached computing experts at Abertay University, who suggested that they could build a private social network where young adult carers could safely interact with each other online – and access crucial support services.

The new social network is completely secure and private, with Dundee Carers Centre having full control of all personal data, unlike the publicly available social network sites.

UPBEET is funded and supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

Posted on: Wednesday, 11 June, 2014 - 09:41