Pick Your Winner: Dare ProtoPlay 2015

Now a perennial feature on the Scottish gaming scene, Dare ProtoPlay returns to Dundee next month for four days of gaming greatness.

Preview by Andrew Gordon | 29 Jul 2015
  • Dare Protoplay

Though a notorious dry spell for new releases, anyone who’s whittled away a summer holiday on these fine isles knows this time of year is prime gaming season – it’s as if all those 60-hour role-playing games from Japan were made precisely with these long, dreich days in mind. So whether you’re looking to relive those last minute binges before another school year or, as a denizen of central Scotland, you want to experience what’s it’s like to have a vote that actually matters, the Dare ProtoPlay festival is the place to be this August. Not only will you get the chance to play sixteen fresh-out-the-oven games made by student teams from all over the world, you’ll also get to pick which ones are the best, and the stakes are high.

On the line are three places in the Ones to Watch category at next year’s BAFTA’s, which is no token accolade considering previous winners have gone on to be selected for IndieCade (the Sundance of video games), land publishing deals with Channel 4 and in the case of 2012 winner Sophia George, become the V&A Museum’s game designer in residence. This year’s hopefuls have received advice and support from the likes of Sony, SEGA and Thatgamecompany as part of Abertay University’s Dare to Be Digital programme, so whatever they end up with you can be sure it’ll be top notch.

The teams will be exhibiting their games for four days straight in Dundee’s City Square starting on Thursday, 13 August (after which they’ll presumably be giving their controllers a good hosing down), so you’ll have plenty of time to get round them all before casting your vote. Any precocious young critics out there can enrol as Junior Judges (ages 8-14), which will net them a priority pass to get the job done proper. We imagine it’s something like Almost Famous except with high scores instead of mediocre rockstars getting high.

The action continues over in Caird Hall where you’ll have the rare opportunity to play two widely acclaimed but logistically demanding party games that are really only feasible at such a large scale event. These are of the real world physical type rather than the kind you play on a screen but you needn't worry – musical chairs they are not. Johann Sebastian Joust does involve moving in time with a piece of music (there are no points for guessing the composer unfortunately) but that’s where the similarities end. Each player has a motion sensitive controller that they must keep steady, the objective being to knock other players out the game by jostling their controller hard enough. How lenient the controllers are to getting knocked is dependant on the speed of the music, which fluctuates randomly over the course of game, so the key to success lies in always being ready to pounce.

The other option is Killer Queen, which might be the closest thing we have to a real life sport just as convoluted Quidditch. It’s sounds great fun though: a sort of team based combination of capture the flag, sword fighting and tug of war that can be played with up to sixteen players. The rules are too detailed to get into here but prepare to get frantic and probably a little bit sweaty. Also on the go are various talks and workshops courtesy of Edinburgh Game Symposium which begin the day before the event and culminate with a concert and dance party on the Thursday evening. While everything else at Dare ProtoPlay is free and family friendly, these events are ticketed so make sure to check out the details in advance on their website:

So there you have it: an arcade, a concert, a conference and some borderline bloodsport for good measure – it’s all happening this August in the country’s video game capital. Miss it if you, ahem, dare.

Dare ProtoPlay takes place at Dundee Caird Hall & City Square, 13-16 Aug. http://www.edingame.com/index.php/schedule/