PEOPLE all over Scotland are being asked to take part in a project aimed at tackling the lack of Scottish representation in digital games.

The Kilted Otter Initiative will focus first on Gaelic, then Scots and possibly Doric and will also be expanded to help prevent other languages from becoming critically endangered.

The “game jam” is open to everyone, including gaming beginners and non-Gaelic speakers, with prizes available for those taking part.

The project was initially devised to counteract the demise of Gaelic but will be going international to include other indigenous languages such as New Zealand’s Maori. It is hoped to engage first nations from Canada and American Indian too.

“Taking the Kilted Otter global will be a huge achievement,” said project lead Charly Harbord of Abertay University’s games and arts research division of the school of design and informatics.

“All indigenous languages are intrinsically linked to our heritage and cultural identity. Sadly though, many of these languages are endangered and as they disappear so too does a little part of our heritage.”

She said the “steady decline” of Scots Gaelic means it now faces potential demise within the next decade without promotion and support.

“Scots Gaelic, as a secondary language, is predominantly spoken by elderly islanders and as they pass, language use is also fading out,” she said.

Harbord added that another “bugbear” was the “sometimes negative portrayal of Scots in the media, whether that is in games or other kinds of media”.

As a result, she has decided to create an extended games jam in order to share Scotland’s culture and heritage in a positive way.

Along with addressing the lack of Scots culture and languages in the digital gaming sphere, the project is also designed to support computing science in schools as the subject has experienced a severe decline in popularity in recent decades, despite Scotland’s thriving flourishing digital technology sector.

“Even if after the jam a couple of people decide to learn Gaelic or decide to make more games or even just find a renewed pride in our heritage we will call this a win,” said Harbord.

The initiative is being supported by Young Scot, MG Alba, the Scottish Government, Bord na Gaidhlig and Women in Games, as well as Abertay’s school of design and informatics and will involve a two month games jam beginning next Monday. Registration is open until September 19. The event will also play a role during the National Mod in October when the public will be able to playtest the games created by the jammers. They will also be running a make-a-Gaelic-game-in-a-day for children during the Inverness event.

THE winning game will be developed by InGame with other prizes including an internship in a games studio.

Online lectures, suitable for beginners, will introduce participants to some of the best non-coding game design engines and websites. Mentors will be able to provide guidance too.

It’s not intended that games should be made wholly in Gaelic as this would limit the number of people that would be able to play the games but it is suggested a few key verbs and phrases could be incorporated. The hope is that this will spark an interest to learn more about the language.

The jam is to be held annually and is predicted to expand to more cultures and countries each year.

Harbord said it had the potential to be recognised by Unesco during the Unesco International Decade of Indigenous Languages which begins next year.