Sweden is one of the biggest players in the world when it comes to game development. While it has mostly been true for the southern part of the country with organisations like Swedish Game Arena, East Sweden Game, Gameport, Sting Game and Game Habitat, the game development scene has been less established in the north. Arctic Game Lab aims to change that. The question is, do organisations like these compete against each other or work together? It turns out that the answer is a little bit of both.
Arctic Game Lab was founded around four years ago, and one of the main people behind the organisation is Michael Stenmark. Being a Luleå native himself, Stenmark aims to shine a light on game development in northern Sweden. Arctic Game Lab’s influence has grown remarkably since its inception, to such a degree that the organisation has been able to establish itself in multiple cities in northern Sweden.
“We support companies, those who create games, those who want to learn business or lead a studio or the whole company. We create places for people to meet. Where Game Jams is the most important part. There people can meet, create, build networks, try, fail and learn.” describes Spokesperson Michael Stenmark.
Due to the intricate process behind game development, we have not seen much come out of Arctic Game Lab just yet. “It takes time. And if you go far, you have to be patient.” Stenmark explains. The reality is that a game does not reach the market in a week. One challenge that attributes to the long process of game development is finding the right people. To make a game you need a team with a unified vision.
Artic Game Lab began in 2014 with just 6 people sharing ideas in a café. Now, in 2018, the organisation has been able grow their team to about 60 people with a common objective. With a strong troop of workers, Arctic Game Lab can tackle more ambitious projects.
“First, the company will be formed. But long before it's a matter of finding the right people. To create the conditions and start learning to work together. You have to create some bad projects first. Often many.” says Stenmark about creating a company.
Arctic Game Lab is not the only organisation that supports game development in Sweden. In the southern parts of the country there is Game Habitat, founded in 2013 as Game City. They changed their name in the beginning of March 2018 to better market themselves internationally. Game Habitat consists of members from companies like King, Massive, Tarsier, Nordic Game and The Game Assembly.
“Our goal is to create the best possible conditions for all and everyone involved in game development in southern Sweden. To achieve this, we work long-term in raising awareness of what our region has to offer, as well as through various collaborations with local actors to improve opportunities for game developers.” explains operations manager at Game Habitat, Peter Lübeck.
Game Habitat takes pride in functioning as a community-oriented organisation. Lübeck explains that their biggest strength is their open and supportive community, “which today consists of about a thousand people who work as, educate themselves or dream of becoming a game developer.” Game Habitat creates numerous opportunities for those people by organizing lectures, workshops and meetups where speakers from the industry share their experiences.
Sweden is one of the world’s top game nations and with the gaming climate growing so rapidly, organisations like Arctic Game Lab and Game Habitat are constantly facing off against new competitors. Although they compete for the same talent and battle it out on the market, Lübeck explains how there is a more collaborative side to the industry. “In the industry, there is a sense that it will be good for all involved.” describes Lübeck. Game Habitat has never shied away from turning to other organisations to answer questions and thoughts about what they do in southern Sweden.
“Organisations like Swedish Game Arena, Arctic Game Lab, East Sweden Game, Gameport, Sting Game etc. are extremely important for the Swedish game spirit to continue to grow. Together we have initiated a national cluster collaboration where we meet a few times a year to discuss how we can support and learn from each other.” explains Lübeck.
While the organisations compete for the same talent in a regional perspective, internationally they represent all of Sweden. Even though there is a naturally competitive side to the industry, the degree of cooperation among companies makes the gaming climate in Sweden more unified.
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