Sweden Game Conference has a short but proud tradition of brining speakers, students and industry veterans together in a tiny town called Skövde. Once a year people travel from all over the world, not to LA, San Fransisco, Köln or even Stockholm, but to this remote town somewhere along the train tracks to get together and talk about games.
Sweden Game Conference might not have been around as long as events like E3, but for six years in a row people have met here to learn more about the industry that we are all a part of. This year’s lineup of speakers was incredible, with people like Tommy Palm, former frontman at King, Rami Ismail, half of Vlambeer and Chris Avellone, the creative director that brough us Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale and Fallout: New Vegas.
These brightly burning stars from the industry were not the only ones to speak at the event though: many local companies shared what they had learned from their own projects and gave advice to the many students that came to the talks. Armin Ibrisagic from Coffee Stain talked about their marketing strategy for Goat Simulator and how Facebook algorithms are tuned to promote posts that get a lot of interaction. Tau Petersson talked about the challenge of creating a game that is also a spectator sport, and Joel Nyström talked about how Ludosity has survived for such a long time and what he feels creates a great working environment (it’s not a ball pit, even though I think it should be).
So the talks were great, the event was a huge success and everyone is tired but happy now that it’s over for this year. But what did we learn?
Well first of I would say that there is something that is often touched upon but rarely talked about that became evident to me during this event: Game development is tough, and everyone wants to help each other succeed. Both at the parties and through the days of meetings and networking everyone did the same thing: gave advice to those who asked or who would listen and tried to find ways and share experiences that the industry here locally and out there globally can become a better place.
Perhaps this was in part because almost everyone worked in development and not on the financial side, or because the show was not about fighting for attention of consumers and press but it felt like something totally difference from Gamescom or GDC. At SGC I felt a different level of honesty and a focus on cooperation rather than competition. In that way it’s not luck, hard work or any other single factor that made the event such a huge success. It was not just that people came here for business or to position themselves better, but because they wanted to give back and learn from each other. We learned so much this year, both from the talks that were help and the conversations that were had at the parties. We got advice from Chris Avellone on the writing for Medusa, Tommy Palm came and talked to us about Crazy Sorting Factory and everyone that played our game where eager to give feedback and help is improve the demo. That is worth so much to us, and it makes us want to help others in return. Essentially it’s all about paying it forward.
I believe that if we continue to work in this manner there is really very few limiting factors, not only for us but for Skövde, Sweden and the industry as a whole. Or, as Rami put it: “Being successful in economics is about taking more than you give, but being successful in life is about the opposite: Giving more than you take. “ If you were not here, you missed out on something truly special. Luckily, a very smart person decided that the spirit of sharing will not end at the entrance to the conference, so all the talks were recorded and will be available on the Sweden Game Arena Youtube channel.
// Daniel Ström