Innovative video game by University of Portsmouth lecturer expert is a major hit

Scott Giles  Photography by Habibur Rahman

Genius who studied in Havant is off to Oxford University with five A and A*s under his belt

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A COMPUTER game created by a University of Portsmouth lecturer recouped its initial budget in less than six hours of its release.

Dear Esther – the brainchild of Dr Dan Pinchbeck – went on sale last week and made £34,700 within five-and-a-half hours, soaring to the top of the sales charts. Sales have already exceeded 25,000 copies.

The PC game is a ghost story told in the first person, combining vast landscapes with a breathtaking soundtrack to tell a powerful story of love, loss, guilt and redemption.

Unlike traditional games, the player determines the narrative based on the choices they make.

Dr Pinchbeck said: ‘The success of Dear Esther has been amazing – it’s been hugely well received critically and by players.

‘It shows the research we were doing into new forms of gameplay and story was absolutely on the right track.

‘We’re excited that we seem to be exploring a new area for gaming.’

Dear Esther was part of a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to break new ground by showing games can be art too.

It was released in 2008, and the remake has a new environment, reorchestrated soundtrack and an expanded story.

Dr Pinchbeck said: ‘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.’

To download Dear Esther for £6.99 from the Steam website go to http://store.steam powered.com/app/203810