Lemmings: Watch documentary on classic Scottish game for free

IT is the computer game classic that put Dundee on the digital map and set Scotland on a £350-million-a-year journey.

Now a documentary about the cliff-edge fun of Lemmings will be released online on Monday.

The full-length production comes three decades after the release of the DMA Design platform game on the Commodore Amiga console.

Players were charged with guiding lines of green-haired critters to safety past pools of lava, booby traps and other obstacles – a simple premise that captured the thumbs of millions of players.

Its huge popularity was great news for the Scottish games sector, which is now worth around £350m a year. The company that created it went on to further success with Grand Theft Auto, which became one of the biggest and most controversial franchises in gaming.

Members of the original team, who worked in an office above a chippy, are amongst those featured in the Lemmings: Can You Dig It? which will premiere for free on YouTube at noon on Monday. This follows a gala screening at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) in December.

Superfans, YouTubers, industry experts and academics were all interviewed for the film, which was commissioned by Lemmings publisher Exient and made remotely during lockdown.

Games giant Chris van der Kuyl, who launched global smash Minecraft from Dundee, is amongst those interviewed about its place in gaming’s past and present, quipping: “Dundee becoming the Hollywood of the games industry is one not many people would have scripted.”

If it wasn’t for the title’s success, Scotland’s world-class gaming sector may not have achieved the success we’ve seen, with DMA Design helping to convince Abertay University to press play on the world’s first computer games courses.

The Dundee institution is now a world-renowned center of excellence in the field and there are more than 1800 people now in full-time permanent games developer roles across almost 100 Scots companies, according to industry body Tiga, which says another 3300 jobs are indirectly supported by the sector.

Their output contributes £97m to the Treasury every year and adds £236m to the UK’s gross domestic product, the organization says.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be making Lemmings: Can You Dig It? available on general release,” said Jamie Wotton of Exient. “It has been an absolute joy to watch the Lemmings story unfold through hundreds of hours of interview footage with the original DMA Design development team, video game industry execs and fans.

“The film celebrates everything that made the original game so special, including the city of Dundee in which it was made and it celebrates the important place these little critters still have in popular culture.”

The film is available on the Exient YouTube channel.

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