Computer games expanding strongly

The computer games industry is relatively young. Quite naturally, as it requires a certain level of technology. Games started to gain general acceptance with the advent of games consoles in the 1970s and took off even more as home computers became more common. Swedish games producers really got the wind in their sails around the turn of the century.

“But in the 1990s we were trying to create games for a Swedish audience. These were games that people should learn from. We took a bit too much of an instrumental view of it,” admits Per Strömbäck, who is spokesperson for the Swedish Games Industry organisation.

Changes did come, however, with the process of internationalisation, and in the 2000s it was possible to start referring to an industry that is “borne global”.

The industry is growing strongly. In 2009, it generated revenue of just over a quarter of a billion Swedish kronor with just over 1,000 employees. In 2016, revenue was up to 12.5 billion and there were 5,000 people working in the industry.

There could be even more, if it were possible to find people to recruit.

One solution to this could be to set up a business abroad. Like Avalanche Studios, for example. A games developer with offices in both Stockholm and New York.

“This is partly because the major companies are based in the USA and it’s easier to market yourself if you have a presence there. And not all developers want to move to Sweden. Having a studio in New York makes it easier for us to recruit, and also to increase the cultural influences,” explains Pim Holfve, CEO of Avalanche Studios.

Another advantage in New York is the fact that you can find somewhere to live, which is much more difficult in Stockholm.

The computer games industry employs competences from many different areas. The three main groups are graphic designers, programmers and games designers.

“The most important consideration for us is to supplement the programming profile with creativity. We’re considered to be a tech industry, but it’s more appropriate to think in terms of art and entertainment,” believes Per Strömbäck.

And creativity is not just about those who develop the games.

“The best games are those that free up the player’s creativity, rather than the game developer’s,” says Per Strömbäck, who adds that games have always had a social function.

“A player against a computer is irrelevant. Nowadays people play with other people, just like they always did, ever since the very first board games.”

Text: Carin Fredlund, 2018-06-14