Jeroen launches dinner date game

Hang Thi

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A STUDENT has proved that computer games are not all about blood and gore by creating one about going out to dinner.

Jeroen Stout says he's interested in making games that engage the emotions - and are a far cry from the shooting and fighting that are the selling point for many blockbuster titles.

The 22-year-old University of Portsmouth graduate has won plaudits from the games industry for the novel approach of his 25-minute game Dinner Date.

In it, players see through the eyes of the main character, Julian Luxemberg, who has been stood up by his date in a restaurant.

Players see through Julian's eyes and control his actions - whether that be looking at the clock or tapping his fingers impatiently on the table top - against the backdrop of his inner thoughts.

It gives players a unique peek into the character's personality and subconscious thoughts.

Jereon, 22, who graduated this summer with a master's in computer games technology, said: 'I wanted to create a game that had a lot of personality in it.

'When Julian realises his date won't be turning up, he starts on this journey of reflection and self doubt which is more intellectually fulfilling than shooting at a computer screen for half an hour.

'It's funny because the experience of creating the video was also a bit surreal for me.

'When I started making it I hadn't experienced what Julian had gone through, but just before I completed it I was also stood up for dinner.

'Amusingly, as I sat there, I went through the actions I had programmed into the game, like staring at the clock, and wondered whether this was a case of life mimicking video games!'

Jereon is now back at home in the Netherlands, where he has started his own games design company Stout Games.

He chose Portsmouth for his degree so he could be supervised by the university's award-winning game designer, Dr Dan Pinchbeck.

Jereon said: 'Making a game without any goals like killing the enemy is quite unusual, and I was drawn to people like Dr Pinchbeck who explore that area.

'I'm not interested in Hollywood - I like art house films, which are more subtle and engaging on an emotional and intellectual level.

'This is what I like to explore in my video games and I hope the general public like it, because for me the world of shooting video games is limited and ultimately unsatisfying.'

Dr Pinchbeck, from the university's school of creative technologies, praised Jereon's cutting edge work.

He said: 'He has looked at a totally different type of relationship between the player and the character they control in the game.'