Call for gaming “memories”

© Alan Richardson
Those involved in the early days of the games design industry will have the opportunity to share their memories at this year's Dare Protoplay event

A new project leader mapping Dundee’s role in the early years of the games design industry is looking for stories from early pioneers.

Donna Holford-Lovell has been tasked with collecting the memories of some of Dundee’s earliest forays into games design for a new exhibition called From DIY Design to DMA Design (1980 – 1990).

Project coordinators want to hear from those in the city who played a role in the early days of the industry and will be on hand to gather information at this year’s Dare Protoplay competition.

The annual conference brings teams of young games developers from across the globe to the city, offering them the chance to showcase their work to industry professionals and the public.

Ms Holford-Lovell said: “When Spectrum’s distinctive rainbow motif hit the streets of Dundee in April 1982, this revolutionary home computer gave people the ability to make their own games.

“From DIY Design to DMA Design will be an exploration of Dundee’s chapter of home grown computer-literate designers, finding out what drove them – whether it was a craving to replicate the arcade games of America or an overwhelming desire to understand how things worked.

“So, whether they were creating their own code or were even part of the ZX Spectrum production line we want to visitors to Dare ProtoPlay to come forward with their personal experiences.”

“Throughout Dare ProtoPlay, we’ll have a space housing two ‘collecting stations’ in the City Square where we’ll be gathering people’s stories and hosting facilities where we can document any artefacts and photocopy contributors’ photographs. We’re also asking people to come along and register an interest in being interviewed for a future oral history project.”

Dr William Huber, head of the centre for excellence in computer games education at Abertay, said: “The rise of Dundee as a hub for the British, and later European game industries, is more than just history.

“It is part of the living memory of the people who witnessed and experienced it, from its origins in the production of the ZX Spectrum at Dundee’s Timex factory, with the home-brew computer culture which surrounded it, through the growth of DMA Design – now Rockstar North.

“This industry emerged in the context of a period of social and economic change in the 1980s and 1990s. Abertay University — then called the Dundee Institute of Technology — played a crucial role in creating this industry.

“We are pleased to be able to participate in this project, capturing the breadth of experience of all the people who lived through and remember that era, above and beyond the most celebrated game designers who are associated with it.”

The games entered for this year’s competition will then go on display to the general public from Thursday August 4 to Sunday August 7 at the Caird Hall.