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Highly anticipated computer game makes budget back within 6 hours of release.

Date: 20/02/2012

A deserted island... a lost man... memories of a fatal crash... a book written by a dying explorer...

Two years in the making, the highly anticipated indie remake of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) supported award-winning computer game Dear Esther has now gone on sale and recouped its $55k (USD) financial backing from investors Indie Fund in just five and a half hours, soaring to the top of sales charts in the process.

The full independent release of the game was based on an experimental and award-winning computer game designed by University of Portsmouth lecturer Dr Dan Pinchbeck. That initial game was part of a project funded by the AHRC designed to break new ground in gaming by showing that games can be art too.

Speaking about the research project itself Dr Pinchbeck said: The continued success of Dear Esther, particularly now that it has had a commercial release, is wonderful. The success of the launch shows that using game development as a means of undertaking research into game content does not have to be prohibitively expensive and complicated.

Originally released in 2008 Dear Esther is a ghost story told using first-person gaming technologies and it quickly developed a cult following as well as winning a number of international awards thanks to the way it fuses its beautiful landscapes with a breathtaking soundtrack to tell a powerful story of love, loss, guilt and redemption. Rather than traditional game-play, the focus is on exploration, and each player's experience is determined by the choices they make. The re-make features a new environment, a re-orchestrated soundtrack by composer Jessica Curry, new areas to explore and an expanded story.

The original version was embraced by the mod gaming community from the off and the success of the commercial re-launch has been exceptional with overwhelmingly positive reviews on all the major games print and online sites, and with sales exceeding 25,000 copies in the first few days.

The extraordinary success of the mod, with over 100,000 downloads, prompted thechineseroom to begin a collaboration with Mirror's Edge artist Rob Briscoe on a commercial rebuild powered by Valve's Source Engine technology.

This is the first time a game that started life as an academic research project to explore new opportunities for design and storytelling in first-person gaming has been realised as a full commercial product.

The game is one of four to emerge from research studio set up by Dr Pinchbeck.

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Links:

AHRC Media Contact Jake Gilmore j.gilmore@ahrc.ac.uk Tel: 01793 41 6021

Notes to Editors

Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC): Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,100 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

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