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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Best foot forward for dance game
Picture courtesy of University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Dancer Heidi Bonner provided all the moves for the game

The amusement arcade dance craze is on its way to sitting rooms around the world, thanks to a firm from mid Wales.

Broadsword Interactive has released a dance routine computer game, Dance:UK, which challenges players to follow moves on a pressure mat.

The game, timed to hit the Christmas market, will catapault the 13-employee company, based at Aberystwyth Science Park, on to an international footing.

Formed eight years ago, the company's latest offering is being promoted heavily throughout major retailers in the UK.

I have danced it to destruction and probably lost half a stone in weight
John Jones-Steele, Broadsword

"It was very much a leap of faith in us for our publishers Big Ben Interactive," said John Jones-Steele, who runs Broadsword with David Rowe.

"I have danced it to destruction and probably lost half a stone in weight doing it," he added.

Dance and performance expert Lianne Morgan, a former Spice Girl who left the band before they made it, said dance routines were a big hit with youngsters.

Stage school

She set up Stagecamp which is a stage school for young performers.

"The kids want to mimic what they see on television and this type of game would be good for youngsters' coordination," she said.

The game, released on Friday, went into pre-production in December 2002 after an initial idea by Big Ben.

Broadsword's team worked with students and Dr Baihua Li at at the Centre for Advance Software and Intelligent Systems at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

"When Big Ben saw our game they ordered a million mats to be produced in Hong Kong," said Mr Jones-Steele.

Nerve-wracking

"I had quite a few sleepless nights with this game. We had to send it to Sony for their approval and had to wait for about ten days, it was really nerve-wracking," he said.

The game, featuring 30 pop tracks, is played on the Sony Play Stations 1 and 2 with a dance mat and speakers.

Sony's backing has enabled the company to forge ahead with new projects called Dance:Europe and Dance:USA.

The deal means the 13 jobs at the firm in Aberystwyth's Science Park are secured for the next 12 months and Mr Jones-Steele wants to extend the team to 21.

Rob Wyn Jones, from UWA, said the close collaboration between Broadsword and the university showed the potential for companies.




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