Nordic Game 2015, Slagthuset, is busy and full of energetic people. I met numerous nice practitioners and also some fellow researchers from Canada and Finland. Se this Magisto video that summarize some impressions:
Rocking at Nordic Game 2015 (magisto video)
Met Bibaina Pulido, from Université de Montréal, who is doing a comparative study of the game development clusters in Quebec and Sweden. Got some nice validation regarding the Swedish game industry being considered as special by international actors. A nice chat. Then I engaged in a mind game with Anton Albiin from Dataspelsbanschen. I let him win…?
Taking a trip to Malmö to make interviews with three of the studios here a sunny spring day. One of these studios was Tarsier, where I met Ola Holmdahl and Andreas Johnsson.
Tarsier has an extremely nice office at Ängelholmsgatan in central Malmö. We had a long talk over lunch and discussed the history of the studio and the development path taken. One of the first games they worked on was Ragdoll Kung Fu, leading to a long relationship with Sony. On the same general theme, their most well known game is probably the PlayStation game Little Big Planet, in which they have been involved in several versions. We also talked about a very beautiful and appealing upcoming game, Hunger. Conceptual work begun in 2014 and they received support for the project from both the Creative Europe Program and Nordic Game Program.
Tarsier is in an interesting phase of post-launch and moving into a (hopefully long and strong growth) phase. With growth, however, comes an increasing need of role definitions and several interesting management challenges. Firms in all industries struggle with finding a way to grow with a balance of appropriate management mechanism and maintaining a pleasant work environment and nice culture. Several good ideas about this was discussed. (If interested, there is research on the subject.)
Starting of the project by approaching industry experts to get an overview of things i contacted Sebastian Zethreaus, project manager at Swedish Game Awards 2014. As it turned out, Sebastian is also a project manager at the up and coming indie developer Gone North Games and could provide both the industry and firm perspectives.
A Story About My Uncle – Screenshot
Gone North Games released its first game ”A Story About my Uncle” in May 2014 so they had almost a year of post launch perspective. The game idea emerged during school work at a game development program with Södertörn Högskola. After receiving some recognition at Swedish Game Awards the game was released on Steam and got featured on the first page for a short time. Reviewers were very positive about this original, non-violent and appealing adventure game. It has a very with nice atmosphere combined with alluring story-telling elements. I recommend for anyone who want to relax with a different and creative adventure game.
The Gone North Studio in Huddinge hospial complex
We talked a lot about the industry and its recent developments, among other things how the increased availability of graphics engines can be interpreted as a sign of the industry maturing (at least for pc and console games). A key issue, especially for small/new firms appears to be the dependency on digital platforms such as Steam. On one hand it provides a channel directly to customers, but it is a challenge not to drown in the noise. A noise that is increasing because of the before mentioned increased availability of tools, making it easier for people to start producing games with smaller means than before. This can be a key issue for understanding how industry conditions lead to diversity and growth.
Swedish Game Awards
Gone North Games
This project aims at explaining the development of the Swedish video game industry. It is a part of a larger study including the entire ICT sector in Sweden and Finland, see ”About” section for details.
After spending time in the fall of 2014 on literature search and exploring firm statistics from our database, it is now time to start data gathering. I have been very happily surprised about how friendly and forthcoming target respondents have been!
The goal is to interview leaders at 3-6 large, well established game companies, 3-6 normal companies representing the bulk of the industry, and 3-6 smaller firms that are new or growing slowly. Game producers for all kind of platforms must be included as well as companies from different regions in Sweden. This should provide a solid base for understanding the industry dynamics.