‘Lemmings’ Celebrates Twenty Years at the Top

Written by Ben Hardwidge

February 14, 2011 // 4:35 p.m.

Companies: #dma-design

‘Lemmings’ Celebrates Twenty Years at the Top
- Birthplace of Scottish computer games industry celebrated -


The pioneers of Scotland’s games industry have reunited in Dundee, to celebrate the anniversary of one of the world’s biggest selling computer games, ‘Lemmings’.

The original team members of the Dundee based DMA Design, which went onto develop the legendary Grand Theft Auto, brought out the computer puzzle game Lemmings in 1991, which became one of the most popular games of its time.

Games giant, Dave Jones, will be joined by industry veterans, Gary Timmons, Mike Dailly and Russell Kay, to talk to audiences about the conception of the much loved game, and unveil a plaque at the original DMA office in Dundee, which became the birthplace of Scotland’s games industry, over twenty years ago.

Lemmings is renowned as one of the UK’s first global blockbusters, topping 55,000 copies on its first day, going onto pull in over 15 million sales. The game is also heralded as being the predecessor of the modern real-time strategy (RTS) video game genre, for introducing the ‘indirect-control’ concept, an element now common in many RTS games.

The basic objective of the game is to rescue the Lemmings across 120 levels of fast-paced puzzling. These loveable creatures walk blindly through the world in the hope of reaching safety at the end of the level, which unfortunately include steep drops, gaps in the ground, barriers and rivers amongst other hazards.

Published by Psygnosis, Lemmings was originally developed for the Commodore Amiga and due to its huge popularity became available on a staggering 28 systems including Atari Lynx and ST, Nintendo’s NES, Game Boy, PlayStation 2 and 3 and Windows Mobile.

Considered a gaming classic, Lemmings repeatedly makes it into many of the industry’s ‘Best games of all time’ shortlists.

Dave Jones comments: “Lemmings is one of those few games whose design has stood the test of time, and with versions being released on new generations of hardware, it continues to be enjoyed by players of all ages everywhere.

“Through today's event, the original team are sharing some of their experiences of the creation of Lemmings and passing on insights from the pioneering days of Dundee's local gaming industry.”

Gary Timmons, co-designer and animator of Lemmings, comments: “Initially I just wanted to get the original team together again to mark the 20th anniversary of the launch of Lemmings on 14th February 1991. However, as the game is so significant to the computer games industry in Dundee, the idea snowballed into a wider set of events including talks, exhibition of Lemmings items and a commemorative ceremony to mark the location of DMA Design's first offices in the Nethergate, where it all started.”

“We have received enthusiastic support from Interactive Tayside, the University of Abertay Dundee and McManus Galleries in Dundee. I am grateful for their help and encouragement during this time."

Games fans can still play the PC Windows version of Lemmings as well as the recently released versions for PSP and PS3.

The event comes on the back of this week’s launch of a new report on Scotland's games industry, which gives "compelling arguments for tax relief" after a Labour government proposal for a games industry tax break was cancelled by the coalition government in June 2010.

The report cited the fact that the sector operated in an uneven international playing field, disadvantaged by subsidies from governments overseas, notably France and Canada, and cheaper labour markets elsewhere.

Video games development is currently worth about £30m to the Scottish economy although the market is thought to be worth more than £55bn worldwide. Dundee, which plays a key part in the sector, is home to about 15 design companies.

The plaque unveiling takes place at 134b Nethergate, Dundee, at 4pm Monday 14th February 2011. Talks are in the Main Lecture Theatre, the University of Abertay Dundee, Bell Street, at 5pm, followed by a reception and exhibition at the UK Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education at the University.

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