Observations from the Norwegian game industry

As I’m figuring out what my official thoughts on what we should be doing in Norway to make the industry in Norway grow – I thought I’d use this blog of mine to brainstorm publicly about some of the impressions and thoughts I’ve had along the way. I’m still working through them, so please feel free to share your opinions, thoughts and insight.

The state of Norway

There are 99 companies in Norway working on game development with less than 400 employees. In other words we have a lot of indies with about 4 to 5 people. Norway has one large studio, Funcom, which has moved most of its production to Montreal. Other than that our studios are small and function either as start-ups or as a side company for a larger advertising or tech agency.

That said, there are about 10 independent game studios that have been doing rather well for many years. Most of these have found additional income through “work for hire” from different industries such as education, advertising and, of course, oil. I don’t have official numbers to back me up, but I think the oil industry in Norway gobbles up the best minds in Norway within programming. Understandably so, as it is one of Norway’s top industries next to shipping. They have money, security and prestige. I’m an oil brat myself – so I’m definitely not complaining.

But Norway isn’t very good at the entertainment industry. I feel extremely guilty and unpatriotic towards my country writing that, I mean, we did produce The Fox after all! We have an amazing government that funds the arts and we’re so lucky that they recognise computer games as a culture industry and game developers will in 2014 receive record support of € 3 million. I’m certain that this is more generous than many other countries and we are indeed very lucky. But it’s not nearly enough to build a commercial and sustainable industry. We need to start taking the culture industries seriously and we need to invest in creating a commercial industry that can pay and invest in itself.

And the time is now. If ever there was a time for independent game studios to blossom it is now and Norway has a lot of wonderful talent. We have struck gold talent wise, now all we need to learn is how to polish and make it shine. And also mine it responsibly to sell globally so we can invest in more mining to cultivate more gold. I’m not certain I feel comfortable with the mining analogy – but you get what I mean, we need to think sustainability while selling and growing.

So I’ve spent the last couple of months looking into what other countries do. I’ve had a dream job these last few months, acting dumb and soaking in as much information as I possibly can about the game industry. I have a severe handicap as I’ve never worked for the game industry – only studied it for many years. But luckily I have been so priveleged to meet companions on the way who have been more than willing to share their opinions, experience and outlook with me. Some have been negative and rude, but most have been absolutely lovely and just as idealistic as I am.

 

Life is beautiful


I’m just running through my feeds before I start cracking on some more “serious” blogsposts and I’ve caught myself muttering “How adorable – beautiful – incredible!” on several of the articles I’m reading – so thought I’d just share some of them here. I don’t know – perhaps its the beautiful weather that’s put me in the lovey dovey mood – either way – I’m having an incredibly lucious Sunday!

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The Future

So I’m sitting at my desk at university going through my thesis because I’m finally going to defend it in 2 weeks! I’m also extremely honoured and excited because I’ve been asked to be a guest lecturer for HUIN 206 & 307: Critical Approaches to Technology and Society 1&2. I’m kinda caught in the middle between scared to death with what on earth I can say of any relevance and the excited jumping up and down feeling of “YES!!!! I’ve been wanting to present this stuff for AGES!!!”. It will be fun to see which feeling wins the scale of balance when I walk in there. Either way it is a perfect opportunity for me to practice my defense by working on my presentation.

Reading through the thesis isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. It was good to take a break and read it more calmly now – I’m not 100 % pleased with it – in fact – far from it – but I’m more calm about seeing what I’ve done wrong and what needs a little bit more analysis and explaining. It’s kinda fun, you know!!!

Also, I’ve come in to university today to start working on an outline for a research fellow position that’s opened up at the department. I’m not sure I stand a chance – but I’ll hate myself if I don’t try. Department politics seems to be central on my mind. What would that professor like me to write about, what would that one – and how do I present this to convince them that they really want someone researching this stuff here – they just didn’t know it before? I think I’d love to move on to Machinima. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. Thought I’d read a few articles and see which angle I want to focus on. The department is really focused on democracy and media – so I’m wondering if I can lure them in somehow with ‘voices of the people’ or something. Sigh. I’ll think of something. It’s running around in my head full speed – but if you have any suggestions you’re welcome to throw them this way.

In the mean time I’ve been to a few interviews for jobs and my financial situation is making me desperate! Job hunting would be fun if I didn’t have to worry about my bills at the same time! I’ve really enjoyed all the interviews – but there’s really only been one who’s job was exciting and inspirational – and it’s in Oslo – waiting to hear from them tomorrow or Friday. It was just so extremely lovely being at an interview where I could actually talk ‘shop’ and not ‘fake’ being excited. I really genuinely was. It’s easy to put my life on pause and hold my breath till I know if the job’s mine or not – but I can’t.

I knew this would be a weird time in my life. It’s so exciting to think of the possibilities of the future – but at the same time it’s hard not to have moments of depression and self doubt. I need to feel I’m going somewhere though! So yesterday I started jogging – hehe! Didn’t get very far – but I’m hoping this will turn out to be a daily thing and notice my body getting fitter and fitter. I’ve got way too much ‘thesis’ plus ‘holiday’ fat to get rid of!!! It’s my own psychological treatment!

So we’ll see just what happens! Maybe I’ll end up with a job at my local grocery store – they’re always so friendly! Or maybe I get to work on a PhD? Or maybe I’ll move to Oslo for a great job? Or maybe I’ll move to Singapore? Or maybe I’ll have to move on to the street and be on welfare for the rest of my life?! It’s all so confusing!!! Hehe!