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26/10/2007

'Magical Guitar' Strikes A Note With BAFTA Award

A video game that uses a magical guitar to fight evil has this week won a BAFTA award for a team of students from the University of Abertay Dundee in Scotland.
The team “called Voodoo Boogy" comprised of five students from Abertay's Skillset-accredited Computer Games Technology and Computer Arts degree courses. Voodoo Boogy held off a strong field for the prestigious gong in the new 'One to Watch' BAFTA category, including a team from the University of Edinburgh and another team of Chinese students.
The Abertay team's winning submission was Ragnarawk, a 'rhythmic' game that sees a 'Rock God' use a magical guitar to defeat evil-doers. The game's original version used a dance mat where players danced on enemies, crushing them with a combination of dance routines.
Malcolm Brown, Computer Games Technology graduate and team leader for Voodoo Boogy, said the idea for Ragnarawk was born two years ago.
"We're big fans of role-playing games and rhythm games, and in the original version there was a dance mat you used to dance on your enemies," he said.
"There have been a number of games that use a guitar controller in Japan, but the idea is only just taking hold in Europe."
The other members of Voodoo Boogy are: Robert Clarke (graduate in Computer Games Technology), Peter Carr and Finlay Sutton (graduates in Computer Arts), and Lynne Robertson (fourth-year student Computer Arts).
Skillset, the industry-led Sector Skills Council responsible for making sure the UK audio visual industries have people with the right skills to ensure and maintain world-class best practice status, was delighted with the BAFTA win for this group of students from Skillset-accredited courses.
Skillset Scotland Director Alasdair Smith said: "The University of Abertay Dundee is the only institution in the UK that has Skillset accreditation for both of its games courses.
"Computer Games Technology and Computer Arts. Skillset is delighted with the success of University of Abertay students at the BAFTAs."
He added: "The University of Abertay Dundee games courses have long been recognised as being particularly valued by the games industry and the success of Voodoo Boogy adds to the University's growing reputation as a major source of games industry talent. Skillset's accreditation identifies Abertay as setting the benchmark for games-related courses, and the BAFTA success shows that the benchmark being set is very high indeed."
Key requirements for Skillset accreditation include strong links with industry, use of industry-standard tools and techniques, and a strong focus on the core skills of maths, physics and drawing skills.
The BBC is also impressed with the computer games talent coming out of the University of Abertay.
BBC Scotland is in talks with the University and representatives from industry to create a lab environment where students, staff, and game development companies can collaborate to prototype new games.
Professor Bernard King, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Abertay University, said: "Abertay launched its first computer games technology degree ten years ago and since then has added a computer arts degree - both of which are Skillset-accredited.
"We have developed a strong research base and grown Dare to be Digital into an international competition. During this time I have been arguing strongly for Scotland to seize the high ground in the new landscape of consumer-generated content and Web 2.0 technologies."
(DS)
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