Center for game development in Norway

I’m extatically happy that we’ve received funding from The Norwegian Arts Council and Hordaland County Council for a pre-project that will be working towards building a

center for computer game development in Norway. I’ll be working on this full-time for the next months and I’m hoping to have a financial and business plan ready by summer.

This is gold for me! Getting paid to do something that I’m very passionate about – is just so wonderful.

So! Why a center for game development in Norway?

1) The game developing community is rather fragmented and with several rather small companies in Norway. We have about 70 companies working on game development in Norway, but most of them are rather small, consisting of one or three people full-time and probably even more part-time or down right volunteers. We in The Game Developers Guild of Norway want to build a network of all proffessionals working with game development so that we can learn from and help each other grow as an industry. If you are in crunch mode and need an extra programmer, illustrator, sound guy or similar, our network should be able to provide you with the connections needed.

2) When I tell people who aren’t working within the game developing community that Norway has over 70 companies working on computer games I’m faced with shock and bewilderment. Our center for game development will also function as an information office looking to promote and create awareness about what’s going on in Norway. There’s a lot of beautiful games coming out of Norway these days – and we want to make sure that everyone in Norway knows how awesome they are, and as many as possible abroad.

3) Because most of our companies are rather small, most also only have a very tiny marketing budget. Our center will be supplying game developers with our network of journalists, publishers, distributors a.s.o. When a Norwegian game developer is going to GDC, for example, then we will do our best to arrange meetings with relevant companies for them.

4) I forget

5) Workshops. We want to provide game developers with workshops within their field. So giving them advanced skills within their field. We also want to work closely with the education institutions and increase the game development courses in Norway. We also want to work closely with diverse research institutes.

Picture on my iPhone at l33t by Gunvor Rasmussen: http://www.gunvor.no/. Caption in Norwegian says "Let's go build a rocket" - given to me by Ina Remme, my favourite film producer.

Picture on my iPhone at l33t by Gunvor Rasmussen: http://www.gunvor.no/. Caption in Norwegian says “Let’s go build a rocket” – given to me by Ina Remme, my favourite film producer.as “game developer” to a professional and serious level. We see our skills needed in lots of innovative fields and we want to make sure that there’s a guarantee of excellence.

6) Build strong bridges between the game developing community and other industries. Our goal is to advance the occupation of “game developer” – making sure that all who “dabble” in game development use professionals to ensure a quality of excellence.

All of this may change in the course of the next few months however. ;)

Firstly I’m focused on getting representatives from all the game development districts in Norway together so we can look at our challenges and needs on a national level. At the same time – I’m looking for organisations that would be interested in collaboration – if you know of any – don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Actually – dear blog reader – I’m looking for similar centers around the world. Do you know of any? Please let me know! Either send me an e-mail at

linnsovig (a) spillmakerlauget.no or please comment on this post.

I’m really enjoying this work – I may actually be approaching so-called “happiness”! ;)

Re-mission 2

I recently had the privilege of giving a presentation on what games are, how they’ve IMG_0765grown to a serious medium and the potential of what games can bring to different forms of communication to a group of proffessionals in the health industry. The wonderful Ricki Sickenger from Sonat Consulting followed me to talk about the process of gamification. My main focus through the presentation was on gaming systems. True – the graphics within the industry have become “almost real” and truly beautiful but so has the system/game design. And I wanted to emphasize on this to point out that game developers should be involved early on in development processes and not brought in in the end with a simple note of “gamify this within 2 weeks”. At least I think I did – but this may also be the conclusion from the wonderful conversation we had after.

It gave me an opportunity to dip into some health games and I’m absolutely smitten with Re-mission 2 by HopeLab! I love this project! They put game developers together with kids who are going through cancer treatments to make games that are absolutely joyful and so much fun. The games helped kids visualize what their bodies are going through and understand what all the painful treatments were fighting. I love this idea! First of all just using kids that are already going through this to help create games must be such a great program in itself. Second of all – the games are gleefully great! They made me giggle.

I wanna do something like this in Norway! Who’s with me and where do we start?

#Konsoll13

I’m so extremely proud that we’ve successfully managed to put together a game conference in Bergen again this year!

#konsoll13 will be in Bergen 3rd and 4th of October this year! For the observant readers you’ll recognise that this coincides with The Philosophy of Computer Games conference. Same city, same time and a wonderful opportunity for game academics and developers to co-exist in the same space.

This year I’ve received some wonderful help. Yngvill Hopen and John Edward Armstrong have put together a wonderful program with guests such as Ken Wong, Emmy Jonassen, Ernest Adams, Ole Andreas Jordet, Ragnar Tørnquist, Jory Prum, Dag Scheve, Nils Anderssen and our dear friends Alex Trowers and Luke Dicken. We’ll be having talks and workshops simultaneously.

Yngvill will also be this year’s Game Master. We had a great chat this weekend and I guarantee that you will enjoy!

We’ll be in an amazing house called “The Literary House”, which I love! It’s a beautiful place for cultural happenings in Bergen and I’m pleased to offer game developers something so aesthetically pleasing and warm as the back drop for celebrating their craft!

We’re also having a Dragon Den where game developers can pitch their projects to our

Dragons Den illustration by Øyvind Lien from Turbo Tape Games

Dragons Den illustration by Øyvind Lien from Turbo Tape Games

expert panel. We’re already filled up with game developers willing to fight the dragons and there are some suprises in the mix that make me so incredibly happy! I’m also very pleased with this year’s panel which is Alex Trowers, Ernest Adams, Helge Hannisdal (founder of Its Learning) and Tor Ole Rognaldsen representing the film and game fund, FUZZ. Dungeon Master this year will be Bjørn Alsterberg from BTO.

A huge thanks also to Morten Formo who’s designed our wonderful website and will be in charge of media!

There’s so much great stuff happening in Norway these days and you’ll be able to witness all of it by joinging us:

Something’s Brewing in Norway – part 1

Something’s Brewing in Norway – part 2

Something’s Brewing in Norway – part 3

I’m still short on funding though, so if you want your logo with our work – please let me know so that we can make this the best exprience! We offer the following packages:

1) € 1300 for logo on our webpage
2) € 1900 for logo on all our advertising material, screens and t-shirts.
3) € 2500 for all of the above and a stand with roll-up or whatever you wish for.

Sound

I’ve become really intrigued with sound lately. I had, quite honestly, given up on sound after having attended several lectures and awkward sound/noise concerts which made me come to the conclusion that this was an art form that I would never understand. But something shifted.

Just watch this AMAZING mini-documentary of basically a conversation between Björk and David Attenborough about sound, science, music and nature, while documenting the work and thoughts behind Björk’s Biophilia. It’s absolutely fascinating and well worth your time.

Wasn’t that just inspiring?

I adore the way she’s using technology and sound to explore or I would say “read” nature. My mind has been blown on so many levels. So I’ll just list some of them:

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PAX 2013

I’d really like to go to PAX Prime! I mean … I really really really wanna go. It seems like the perfect injection of gaming inspiration that I need. Since I have no money – I’m looking for creative ways of getting me there so if you have any good ideas – let me know! I can write, talk, network and sell. I think I need about $3000.

There’s two game companies that I adore and would love to work for someday that are going; D-Pad Studios and Rain.

D-Pad

D-Pad’s lovely and gorgeous Owlboy has been picked as one of the PAX10. So incredibly proud of and excited for them! What an honour! I already have an beautiful image in my mind of Phil Fish and Wil Wheaton playing Owl Boy together with huge grins on their faces! Just look at the beauty:

And today they’re releasing the game Savant – which you should play as soon as it’s released!

Rain

Rain will also be there with their upcoming game Teslagrad! I love this game – or I guess it’s more correct that I love where this game comes from and I love that it’s just the beginning of a wonderful world that they’ve created. And I’ve certainly enjoyed playing the game.

They’ll also be at PAX! If you’re there make sure to stop by and be smitten! Thomas and Magnus will be representing and they’re definitely two of my favourites – SO worth taking the time to talk to!

They’re also on Steam Greenlight and they need your vote – so go do that now!

I’m also secretly hoping for both of them to officially release their games at Konsoll 2013.

I really need to come up with a plan to get myself there other than winning the lottery!

James Portnow wants to talk about how good games are

… and we should help him.

James Portnow from Extra Credits (and also much loved speaker at Konsoll 2012) has started a crowdfunding project called “Games for Good“. He wants to create a conversation about games that isn’t reactionary or in direct defence of games, but rather talk about the good that games do in a louder and more accessible voice. He’s observed that politicians in DC aren’t finding experts to educate and advise on game legislation and feels that we should become better at representing the industry. In this campaign he also wants us to start talking louder about games that do good and why. We’re doing something similar here in Norway with the Game Developers Guild – but I’ll write about that after Mr. Portnow explains his vision:

Honestly, I’m rather shocked that the computer game industry isn’t already heavily represented in American politics through lobbyists.

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“Hold on, we’re in charge of the machines”

I just read this brilliant interview with Aleks Krotoski in The New Zealand Listener about her new book, Untangling the Web. You should buy it NOW – I just did!

Image

Me behind Aleks Krotoski at State of Play conference in Singapore. I told her I was a fan right before or after this was taken. I’ve never felt more like a stalker!

My enthusiasm escalated quite early here:

Dr. Aleks Krotoski, a US-raised writer, broadcaster and academic, says real serendipity in online searches or online dating, for instance, requires an aspect of “wrongness”. “I’d be fascinated if, when you hit on Google I’m Feeling Lucky, instead of delivering exactly the results that the machine thinks you want, it delivers things that are kind of wrong, and you as a human being would go, actually, that’s taken me off in a completely different direction.” Sometimes you want exact searches, she says, but sometimes you want stuff that’s a little bit different from what you are looking for.”

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Programming with children

(Pictures shamefully stolen from Lær Kidsene Koding)

Last summer I was at Edinburgh Interactive and was for the first time introduced to the highres_245711632wonderful organisation Coder Dojo, which is a program or space for young people eager to learn about programming and technology. Bill Liao, one of the founders, took the stage and started reciting a poem which really moved me. He concluded with the statement “We’re teaching our children how to read but not how to write. We’re teaching our children how to use technology but not how to create and express themselves with it.” – it really got to me.

Ever since then the subject just kept on popping into a lot of discussions and meetings I was having last winter. Of course, a lot of the meetings I was having, were with very engaged technology enthusiasts. But it was uncanny the way I could be sitting in an introduction meeting between Jill Walker Rettberg and Henchman and Goon where w ended up having an opinionated and enthused discussion about the lack of programming in Norwegian education. And this just kept happening. General consensus was that something had to be done and we might as well be the ones to do it. Meetings were had between me, Jill Walker Rettberg from Digital Culture at University of Bergen, Anne Marthe Dyvi from Bergen Center for Electronic Art, some sporadic members of The Game Developers Guild, Martin Lie, Trygve Trohaug from HackBergen and one of my favourite librarians Sverre Helge Bolstad.

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Something’s brewing in Norway – part 3

This is part 3 of a series where I’m trying to describe the lay of the land of game development in Norway. The more I dig the more astounded I am over the talent that exists here and some of the wonderful projects that are about to burst outta here! For more please read part 1 and part 2.

Moving east we arrive at one of the most exciting game developing companies in Norway, Rock Pocket Games. These days they’re developing the gorgeous looking Oliver and Spike – Dimension Jumpers:

Still not convinced? Here’s some more people drooling:

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Something’s brewing in Norway part 2

In part 1 I started introducing the game developers in Norway starting with Bergen. So far I’ve mentioned Rain (keep an eye out for them at GDC – they’ll be at the Nordic Game stand), D-Pad Studios, Henchman & Goon and Turbo Tape Games. I still have a few more I’d like to mention:

Mentalfish Mentalfish logo

This is pretty much a one-man band named Petter Sundnes. I’ve had the privilege of working with Petter on a few potential projects and I enjoy his visions and game developing skills. We’ve also worked with students together and he’s an excellent and patient teacher  while introducing Unity (I’ve even started dabbling with it). His game mechanic skills are excellent, creativity top notch and management skills are great. I hope to work more with him in the future and is my number one choice to bring along for meetings with potential new clients.

Read more about Mentalfish here.

Vostopia

Vostopia is slightly outside Bergen in beautiful Voss. Vostopia’s founding father is Bjarne Rene who has the most impressive game developing CV that I’ve seen around here. I keep describing him as a person with gravitas, by this I mean he is a man with experience and connections and we all value his opinion greatly. But he’s also a genuinely nice and fun guy who’s very willing to share and contribute to building a sustainable game developing industry in Norway. Here’s a little profile piece from our local paper, BT (again – in Norwegian): http://lisa.bt.no/btmultimedia/prosjekt/vestlendingen/#story_13

Vostopia offers avatars or avatar systems for game developers. They’re very versatile and fun and I think it’s a very smart business idea. Are you creating a game in Unity I would definitely recommend having a look. Here’s their demo reel:

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