Chinese students win international game design competition
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Chinese students win international game design competition

A group of students from Beijing has won the internationally-renowned computer game design competition Dare to be Digital.

Hosted by the University of Abertay Dundee, Dare to be Digital runs every year, and gives exceptionally talented students the life-changing opportunity to be mentored by games industry experts – including Codemasters, Sony and Ubisoft Reflectionsmpbgame.

During Dare to be Digital, 15 teams from around the world gather in Dundee, Scotland, and are given just nine weeks to build a brand new game.

At the end of the nine weeks, all the games created by the students are put on show to thousands of members of the public at the free Dare ProtoPlay computer games festival in Dundee, which this year ran from August 8-11.

The games are then judged by a panel of industry experts, and three winning teams are announced.

This year, Team iKnow – consisting of Chenying Wan, Qiwei Feng, Luyue Zhang and Zhaoxuan Li from the Communications University of China, as well as Neil Cullen from Salford University in England – were selected to take part.

They faced stiff competition to gain their place, beating 16 other teams from China to get the chance to come to Scotland.

Their hard work was rewarded on Sunday night when it was announced that they had won.

Team iKnow will now compete for the exclusive BAFTA Ones to Watch Award – a category created specifically for Dare to be Digital.

The winners of this award will be announced at the British Academy Games Awards (BAFTA Games) in March 2014.

Chenying Wan, team leader of iKnow, said:

“We really didn’t expect this. I think we could win the BAFTA, I really believe that. We’ve faced some big problems making our game, but looking back they were all worth it to be here now.”

The Dare ProtoPlay festival was opened on Thursday (August 8) by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop and games industry legend Ian Livingstone.

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture Fiona Hyslop said:

“My congratulations go to all of the teams that took part in Dare to be Digital and especially the three winning teams that will now go through to the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award for new games talent. Once again Dare to be Digital has underlined Scotland’s place at the very heart of gaming excellence.

“I always enjoy the Dare ProtoPlay festival and this year was stronger than ever, showcasing incredible innovation including examples of how augmented reality can be used. I expect to see much of this talent and intellectual property being transformed into new businesses in Scotland to follow the successes of previous Dare to be Digital participants.

“As a creative nation, Scotland is the perfect home for game production with our cutting-edge skills, talent and infrastructure and once again Dare to be Digital has underlined Scotland’s place at the very heart of gaming excellence.”

Imre Jele, Creator-in-chief at Bossa Studios and member of the BAFTA Games Committee, said:

“The quality of games shown at Dare ProtoPlay advances every year at an astonishing rate. We’re not only looking at small prototypes showing seeds of ideas any more, but can play products surpassing the quality of many commercially released titles.

“This means the job of judges is getting more complex, but also more rewarding every year. Choosing the winner from such an amazing line up was a great challenge. But I truly believe all three are worthy of the title, and the attention of both BAFTA and players.”

Professor Louis Natanson, who leads computer games education at Abertay University, said:

“The entrants to Abertay University’s 2013 Dare to be Digital game design competition are truly the best yet, in terms of their professionalism, their technical achievements and the incredible creativity we’ve seen this year.

“The BAFTA-nominated winners – iKnow, Mazhlele and Team DOS – stood out from the very tough competition for their exceptional game design and commercial appeal, but all 15 teams have the experience now to enter the games industry or start their own businesses.

“Building a professional, playable and exciting game in just nine weeks is a very, very hard thing to do, and these 75 students have all excelled during their time in Dundee. We look forward to hearing about their new companies, game releases and many successes in the future.”

Dare ProtoPlay is sponsored by Creative Scotland, Dundee City Council and EventScotland.

For more information, please visit the Dare to be Digital website.


Team iKnow built a game called “The Unknown” – a physics-based puzzle platformer for Android and iOS devices.

The idea of the game is that a critter of unknown origin has crash-landed on earth. It has the ability to control the gravity around it, and scientists are conducting a series of experiments to establish the full extent of these powers.

Players need to guide The Unknown through a series of mind bending puzzles, rotating their mobile device to change the environment and figure out the best path through.


Dare to be Digital is a video game development competition for undergraduates at universities and colleges of art, hosted and run by the University of Abertay Dundee.

Teams of student programmers and artists compete in an intensive ‘hot-house’ development environment over the summer vacation, building fully-functioning prototypes for assessment by industry judges and a public vote at Dare ProtoPlay in Dundee, 8-11 August 2013.

The three winning teams from Dare to be Digital each year become the sole nominees for the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award.


Abertay University launched the world’s first computer games technology degree in 1997, and runs both the UK Centre of Excellence for Computer Games Education and the international game design contest Dare to be Digital. Our unique partnership with BAFTA makes Dare the exclusive pathway to the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award, a major recognition of up-and-coming games talent.

Through the Abertay University Prototype Fund start-up and small developers across the UK have access to funding to create new prototypes and attract additional investment, another practical way Abertay supports the growth of a sustainable, successful games industry.

Abertay has the highest number of Skillset accreditations for computer games courses as well as holding full Skillset Media Academy status, recognition of the important industry skills that are developed on our courses. For a full list of our undergraduate course, please click here. For our postgraduate courses, please click here.