2006-09-15 Gaby Katz
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Video games are becoming “the new TV” in Sweden

Swedish videogame developers of Grim TeamSwedish videogame developers of Grim Team
Sweden's TV and computer game industry raked in a billion kronor last year, and 98% of that was thanks to exports.  The film and music industries better watch out, because that statistic means games are fast becoming Sweden's cash cow. What’s more, industry figures say things can only get better.

Grin is a Sweden-based game developer.  They're the people behind a host of arcade machines, military and civilian simulators as well as award-winning games like "Ballistics". Its CEO is Bo Andersson.

“There are several big challenges - you have to look at this in steps. The first one is obviously getting the contract. But once you are in development the hardest thing is to get the game-play right...You know - what is fun? Games are so complex today. Graphics and technology back and forth - that's not so complex, compared to actually making it fun.”

It looked fairly complex - we've just had a look around your locale here, and you have sixty - mostly guyes sitting in front of the computer, making the graphics making sure the game actually works. How often do you come accross bugs that you have to change - I can see you are laughing....so allot?

Screenshot from the videogame BallisticsScreenshot from the videogame Ballistics
“On our last project we had about 5000 bugs...so you are right it is a process that requires so many different skills. I can probably say that is more complex to make an interactive computer game than it is to make a movie.”

  And talking of the film industry there are new statistics out that show that the Swedish gaming industry is hot on the heels of not only the movie industry but also the music industry...

“I wouldn't be surprised because I have seen this happening for a long time. I have seen people start to play games at about ten years old, and they don't stop. It’s a growing community because people are growing more technically competent and are being introduced to the games at an early age.”

Screenshot from the videogame BallisticsScreenshot from the videogame Ballistics
Why do you think Sweden is doing so well when it comes to gaming?

“I think in terms of developing games – it’s because I think we started quite early with the Amiga and the Atari. And we did allot of demos and things like that. There was a community to demonstrate cool technology demos you could do...and graphics you could do and that started quite early. So I think we have to thank the hobbyist community for that.”

  We have established that Sweden is doing well internationally but it is still not quite in the league of the United States - What do you think it would take to push Sweden that little further along?

“What I think we need to do to challenge the American developers - because that it where I see the challenge is a better understanding of what the American public like. Because we are still a bit European - we are listening to the Japanese quite a bit, but we still need to understand more closely what speaks to the American heart....

Another expert who agrees Sweden is climbing the ladder to gaming success is Mats Nylund, Editor at the magazine Super Play, circulation: 20,000.

“There are more and more programmes at universities for gaming design and more people are getting interested in it. We are seeing at least three or four major game developers in Sweden that are very successful. And there's more coming I'm sure...”

But, the bottom line, could anyone imagine going back to a game-less cyberspace?

Bo Andersson: “Oh – no, no, no. I mean Computer games to me - its TV. It’s the new TV.”

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Tags

computer games, economy, sweden

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