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Sandqvist, Ulf
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Sotamaa, O., Jorgensen, K. & Sandqvist, U. (2019). Public game funding in the Nordic region. The International Journal of Cultural Policy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Public game funding in the Nordic region
2019 (English)In: The International Journal of Cultural Policy, ISSN 1028-6632, E-ISSN 1477-2833Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we explore the policies related to support structures surrounding national game industries, with focus on the three Nordic countries Finland, Norway and Sweden, and investigate what kind of context the Nordic welfare state model has provided for game development. The three cases illustrate how Nordic welfare state measures have interacted with the games industry over time. While the political ideals have been fairly similar, our study demonstrates how the objectives and practical means of state engagement have differed significantly. We argue that although the three countries all have support schemes of which game companies can take advantage, there are significant differences in the degree to which each individual country has organized government interventions and support. While the Finnish state has treated game development as an endeavour in business development, the regional Nordic game program and the Norwegian state has developed a cultural policy that primarily aims to protect the cultural heritage. The Swedish state has not established a tailormade policy directed towards game development but has a broad spectrum of general policies for supporting research and business development. We suggest that future research should investigate how the public funding is structured and how discourses are formulated around appeals for more public funding for the games industry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2019
Keywords
Games industry, innovation policy, cultural policy, welfare state, Nordic countries
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-163677 (URN)10.1080/10286632.2019.1656203 (DOI)000482358300001 ()
Available from: 2019-10-21 Created: 2019-10-21 Last updated: 2019-10-21
Jørgensen, K., Sandqvist, U. & Sotamaa, O. (2017). From hobbyists to entrepreneurs: on the formation of the Nordic game industry. Convergence. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 23(5), 457-476
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From hobbyists to entrepreneurs: on the formation of the Nordic game industry
2017 (English)In: Convergence. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, ISSN 1354-8565, E-ISSN 1748-7382, Vol. 23, no 5, p. 457-476Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article sheds light on the formation of the Nordic game industry between 1990 and 2005. The first long-lasting game development companies within the region emerged in the early 1990s and one of the factors for the advent of a Nordic industry was the subculture surrounding the demoscene. By selecting three companies in Finland, Norway and Sweden, we look at the transition from subculture into formal companies. The study is informed by an oral history approach, supplemented by a variety of other sources, including industry reports, mainstream press stories and online materials. The article argues that the presence of the demoscene in the Nordic region had an influence on the game companies, but the transition from hobbyism to professional work processes was not straightforward or simple. However, without the demoscene, the game companies would have had a difficult time finding interested and qualified employees.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2017
Keywords
1990s, 2000s, computer hobbyism, demoscene, Digital Illusions, Finland, Funcom, game industry, Nordic countries, Norway, Remedy, skill transfer, Sweden, video game history
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
History; Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-112154 (URN)10.1177/1354856515617853 (DOI)000418513000001 ()881253 (Local ID)881253 (Archive number)881253 (OAI)
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Available from: 2015-12-03 Created: 2015-12-03 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved
Sandqvist, U. (2017). The Nordic welfare state and computer games: The Swedish case 1950-2010. In: : . Paper presented at NordMedia 2017, Tampere, Finland.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Nordic welfare state and computer games: The Swedish case 1950-2010
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The Swedish game industry has received a lot of attention the last couple of years. In particular, a few game developing companies like Mojang (Minecraft) and King (Candy Crush) have been celebrated for their spectacular financial success. The Swedish achievements might be extra notable because they coincided with a period in which the industry was going through considerable transformations. However, most reports and stories written about the Swedish game industry are stuck in what Huhtamo calls the “chronicle era” (Huhtamo 2005). Most of the historical narratives are descriptive, sensationalist and focus exclusively on successful companies or individuals. Most historical accounts are written by enthusiasts, journalists and scholars who lack a critical distance and fail to frame the development within a broader historical context.

This paper will therefore explore the broader technological and political context of Swedish game history. The paper will examine the unique Nordic welfare state politics, predominantly the period 1950 to 2010, in relation to the development of larger computers investments and computer game development. It will also discuss the Swedish case within a broader development of a global game industry. The aim is to contribute with a new analysis of the historical development of the industry as well as discussing the emerging industry in relation to larger political and technological shifts.

National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-142996 (URN)
Conference
NordMedia 2017, Tampere, Finland
Available from: 2017-12-14 Created: 2017-12-14 Last updated: 2018-06-09
Sandqvist, U. & Lilljegren, J. (2016). Global Gaming and a Global Game Industry: International and Methodological Perspectives on Digital Distribution in PC-Gaming. In: : . Paper presented at Central and Eastern European Game Studies Conference (CEEGS), Lublin, 20-22 October 2016.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Global Gaming and a Global Game Industry: International and Methodological Perspectives on Digital Distribution in PC-Gaming
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The game industry has gone through a change in structures over the past few years. Many new technological innovations and business models have been introduced an affected the game market (Baumane-Vitolina and Apsite 2013, White and Searle 2013, Hotho 2013). Digital distribution seems to be particular important. International service that sells and distribute games digitally did not exist only 8-10 years ago. New genres of games have emerged and game developers don’t need to go via a publishing company to enter the market. 

The development seems to have created somewhat of a new genesis for PC-gaming. New services like Steam, Battle.net and Origin have made computer gaming much more accessible. Consumers gain easy access to a wide range of computer games, and developers gain an infrastructures on which to market and push updates of their software to consumers. This infrastructure has propelled the success of PC specific game genres and games like DOTA 2, LOL, World of tanks, CS:GO and Hearthstone. Distribution platforms seem to have transformed the PC-market from a niche to a mainstream game market. This development can also in turn be connected to the development of new supporting industries e.g. e-sports and streaming. The result is a new wave of globalisation of gaming culture. 

In this paper we will study the PC-game market and digital distribution from a quantitative international perspective. Rather little is known about these platforms from an economic and user perspective. Game research has been characterized by the lack of solid data regarding the users, sales and importance of different markets (White and Searle 2013). Game companies are often very secretive about their data. Game researchers have been forced to use case studies and the available quantitative data have come from sources that are hard to verify: consultant reports or industry associations. As a result it is fairly uncommon to make international studies or apply a comparative approach. 

We have collected data systematically from the distribution platform Steam since late 2015. The data contains daily per-country traffic and data-transfer speeds from the platform. Using this as a proxy of the platform’s usage, we are able to make concrete statements on both the use of gaming-services in different localities, and on the methodological problems and opportunities related to the analysis of this kind of data. Preliminary results reveal cyclic trends, international differences, and correlation with some key macro-economic indicators, such as GDP per capita. We hope to make a contribution to comparative game research and add some insight to the methodological difficulties that this type of data contains. It is also our intention to continue the data collection over several years in order to generate a larger longitudinal database that can be made publicly available to other researchers. 

National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-126930 (URN)
Conference
Central and Eastern European Game Studies Conference (CEEGS), Lublin, 20-22 October 2016
Note

References 

Baumane-Vitolina, I. and Apsite, A. (2013). “Social Network Gaming Industry – is it the Future or Already the Past of the Information Technology Sector?”. Humanities and social sciences Latvia 2013(2). 

Hotho, S. (2013). Some Companies Are Fine. One Day and Gone the Next. in Hotho, S. and McGregor, N. (Eds). Changing the Rules of the Game. Palgrave Macmillan. 

White, G and Searle, N. (2013). Commercial Business Models for a Fast Changing Industry in Hotho, S. and McGregor, N. Reds. Changing the Rules of the Game. Palgrave Macmillan.

Available from: 2016-10-26 Created: 2016-10-23 Last updated: 2018-06-09
Sandqvist, U. (2016). The evolution of the game industry 1971-2015: innovations and economic cycle theory. In: : . Paper presented at ABH-GUG Congress Berlin 2016.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The evolution of the game industry 1971-2015: innovations and economic cycle theory
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This article will discuss recent and historical transformation periods within the game industry and put them in a macro-economic context. The last couple of years have been very turbulent within the game industry. Numerous game developing companies have shut down, even some of the well-established and high profile game studios have closed. Electronic Arts, Lucas Arts and Microsoft have terminated or sold many of their game studios. The highly acclaimed US studio Irrational Games announced in 2014 that it was going to close down and start a transformation into a smaller studio. Retailing has also struggled. The Scandinavian wing of the chain store GAME went bankrupt in June 2015.

 

This transformation comes as a number of radical (maybe even disruptive) innovations and new business models have been introduced (Baumane-Vitolina and Apsite 2013, White and Searle 2013, Hotho 2013). The new dominant paradigm is based on digital distribution and a further emphasis on networking and mobility. This have, due to scalability and low marginal costs, made new game genres e.g. indie, episodic and social games more economic and technically realistic. New ways to finance game development have also emerged e.g. crowdfunding and early access schemes. Finally, we seem to be at the verge of some major technological breakthroughs in VR, open source hardware/software, voice recognition and artificial intelligence.

 

Schumpeterian innovation theory has become a popular way to explain and understand industry change in the last decades. This article will however focus on another aspect of this theory namely economic cycle theory. Schumpeter and other scholars argue that major technological innovations will occur in development blocks, and as a result reshape the structure of the economy. This will result in economic cycles (Schumpeter 1934 and 1939, Kondratiev 1935, Keynes 1936, Dahmen 1984). Scholars have periodised these cycles in different ways. Within the Nordic structural analytical tradition have Lennart Schön, among others, found evidence for a 40-year cycle. It is possible that the 2007-2009 financial crisis marked the beginning of a new cycle and that we have now entered a transformation period (Schön 2013). An economic crisis will accelerate the destruction of existing structures and will reallocate resources to new sectors and innovations in what Schumpeter would call a great gale of creative destruction (Schumpeter 1942).

 

The hypothesis in this article is that cycle theory can be used to explain the development of the game industry since the 1970s. The theory may help us build a better understanding and periodization of the game industry evolution. This article will contribute to game research within the fields of history and social sciences. The article will focus on three questions in relation to the game industry. Why have so many major structural changes occurred within the game industry in recent years? Have there been similar periods historically? How can we understand and periodise major changes in technology and business models within the game industry?

National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History; Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-122011 (URN)881253 (Local ID)881253 (Archive number)881253 (OAI)
Conference
ABH-GUG Congress Berlin 2016
Note

References

Baumane-Vitolina, I. and Apsite, A. (2013) ”Social Network Gaming Industry – is it the Future or Already the Past of the Information Technology Sector?”. Humanities and social sciences Latvia 2013(2).

 

Dahmén, E. (1984) Schumpeterian Dynamics: Some Methodological Notes. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, vol. 5, pp. 25-34.

 

Hotho, S. (2013) Some Companies Are Fine. One Day and Gone the Next. in Hotho, S. and McGregor, N. (Eds). Changing the Rules of the Game. Palgrave Macmillan

 

Keynes, J. M. (1936) The General Theory of Employment, Interst, and Money. New York: Harcourt Brace

 

Kondratiev, N. D. (1935) The Long Waves in Economic Life. The Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 17, pp. 105-15.

 

Schumpeter, J. (1934) The Theory of Economic Development: An Inquiry Into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest, and the Business Cycle. Transaction Publishers.

 

Schumpeter, J. (1939) Business cycles : a theoretical, historical, and statistical analysis of the capitalist process. New York: McGraw-Hill.

 

Schumpeter, J. A. (1942) Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 3rd ed. New York:

Harper.

 

Schön, L. (2013) Tankar om cykler : perspektiv på ekonomin, historien och framtiden. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

 

White, G and Searle, N. (2013). Commercial Business Models for a Fast Changing Industry ' in Hotho, S. and McGregor, N. Reds. Changing the Rules of the Game. Palgrave Macmillan

Available from: 2016-06-14 Created: 2016-06-14 Last updated: 2019-02-15
Sandqvist, U. (2016). Then the Stars Align: The Formation of the Swedish Game Industry. In: : . Paper presented at SHOT - Society for the History of Technology. Singapore
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Then the Stars Align: The Formation of the Swedish Game Industry
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The game industry in Sweden has received a lot of attention the last couple of years. In particular, a number of game developing companies like Mojang (Minecraft) and King (Candy Crush) have been celebrated for their spectacular financial success. The Swedish achievements might also be extra notable because they coincided with a period in which the industry was going through considerable transformations. Many high profile and historically well-renowned game studios like Psygnosis, Irrational Games, Xbox Entertainment Studios, LucasArts, THQ Studios, SOE Studios and 2K Australia have been discontinued or transformed in the last couple of years.

However most reports and stories written about the Swedish game industry are stuck in what Huhtamo calls the “chronicle era” (Huhtamo 2005). Most of the historical narratives are descriptive, sensationalist and focus exclusively on a few successful companies or individuals. Most historical accounts are written by enthusiasts and journalists who lack a critical distance and fail to frame the development within a broader historical context. This follows the general pattern within game history (Guins 2014).

This article will take a more critical and analytical approach. It will explore the social and economic context of the Swedish industry in its formative period − the early years, the 1990s and 2000s. This period have to some extent been discussed in Sandqvist (2012). However, this article aims to study this period and the social composition of the industry through a new, unique material. A mixed methodological approach will be applied, but the article will primarily study quantitative data.

The quantitative data consists of a longitudinal database with data about every individual that has worked at a Swedish game developing company between 1997 and 2010. The data is provided by the government statistical agency Statistics Sweden. Researchers are allowed to use anonymous data originally collected by a number of government agencies (scb.se). Some of the variables that will be analysed include: age, sex, birth place, education, civil status and salary. The qualitative data consists of interviews with eleven game developers active at game companies that started in the 1990s. Some interviewees were affiliated with successful companies, while others worked for companies that went bankrupt during the early 2000s.

In general, the Swedish case reflects the development in a small democracy with well-developed economy but outside of the larger core markets (UNDP 2013). The case creates opportunities for especially two new perspectives relating to local circumstances: the small states perspective and well-fare politics in relation to the game industry. The geographic features will be related to small state theory (Krantz 2006). The political context will be related to Nordic welfare state politics e.g. the dual breadwinner model and media policies (Ellingsæter 1998, Schön 2010, Kulturdepartementet 2012).

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Singapore: , 2016
Keywords
Sweden, Game Industry, Nordic welfare state
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-124177 (URN)
Conference
SHOT - Society for the History of Technology
Available from: 2016-07-25 Created: 2016-07-25 Last updated: 2018-06-07
Sandqvist, U. (2015). The changing game industry and economic cycle theory. In: : . Paper presented at CEEGS 2015, Central and Eastern European Game Studies Conference, Kraków October 21-24, 2015.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The changing game industry and economic cycle theory
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This article will discuss recent and historical transformation periods within the game industry and put them in a macro-economic context. The last couple of years have been very turbulent within the game industry. Numerous game developing companies have shut down, even some of the well-established and high profile game studios have closed. Electronic Arts, Lucas Arts and Microsoft have terminated or sold many of their game studios. The highly acclaimed US studio Irrational Games announced in 2014 that it was going to close down and start a transformation into a smaller studio. Retailing has also struggled. The Scandinavian wing of the chain store GAME went bankrupt in June 2015.

This transformation comes as a number of radical (maybe even disruptive) innovations and new business models have been introduced (Baumane-Vitolina and Apsite 2013, White and Searle 2013, Hotho 2013). The new dominant paradigm is based on digital distribution and a further emphasis on networking and mobility. This have, due to scalability and low marginal costs, made new game genres e.g. indie, episodic and social games more economic and technically realistic. New ways to finance game development have also emerged e.g. crowdfunding and early access schemes. Finally we seem to be at the verge of some major technological breakthroughs in VR, open source hardware/software, voice recognition and artificial intelligence.

Schumpeterian innovation theory has become a popular way to explain and understand industry change in the last decades. This article will however focus on another aspect of this theory namely economic cycle theory. Schumpeter and other scholars argue that major technological innovations will occur in development blocks, and as a result reshape the structure of the economy. This will result in economic cycles (Schumpeter 1934 and 1939, Kondratiev 1935, Keynes 1936, Dahmen 1984). Scholars have periodised these cycles in different ways. Within the Nordic structural analytical tradition have Lennart Schön, among others, found evidence for a 40-year cycle. It is possible that the 2007-2009 financial crisis marked the beginning of a new cycle and that we have now entered a transformation period (Schön 2013). An economic crisis will accelerate the destruction of existing structures and will reallocate resources to new sectors and innovations in what Schumpeter would call a great gale of creative destruction (Schumpeter 1942).

The hypothesis in this article is that cycle theory can be used to explain the development of the game industry since the 1970s. The theory may help us build a better understanding and periodization of the game industry evolution. This article will contribute to game research within the fields of history and social sciences. The article will focus on three questions in relation to the game industry. Why have so many major structural changes occurred within the game industry in recent years? Have there been similar periods historically? How can we understand and periodise major changes in technology and business models within the game industry?

Keywords
Game industry, business models, innovations, economic cycle theory, history
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-109828 (URN)881253 (Local ID)881253 (Archive number)881253 (OAI)
Conference
CEEGS 2015, Central and Eastern European Game Studies Conference, Kraków October 21-24, 2015
Available from: 2015-10-06 Created: 2015-10-06 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved
Sandqvist, U. (2015). The Games They are a Changin': New Business Models and Transformation within the Video Game Industry. Humanities and Social Sciences Latvia, 23(2), 4-20
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Games They are a Changin': New Business Models and Transformation within the Video Game Industry
2015 (English)In: Humanities and Social Sciences Latvia, ISSN 1022-4483, Vol. 23, no 2, p. 4-20Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The digital video game industry has established itself as one of the largest entertainment industries rivalling even well-established giants like the music industry and the film industry. The game industry has, however, been going through a transformation period the last couple of years and the development have been turbulent. Numerous game developing companies around the world have shut down. This transformation comes as a number of radical innovations and new business models have been introduced. The article explores the evolution and adaptation of new business models within the video game industry. There has been some recent scholarly work about the new business models within the industry. However, the historical evolution of business models within the game industry is underexplored and the changes have not been adequately linked to the techno-economic development. The aim is to contribute to the understanding of the development and transformation of the digital game industry, with a focus on recent years. Swedish game companies are used as example in this article. Many game developing companies has historically struggled but by adopting new business models, a number of companies like Mojang, King and Starbreeze have reached spectacular successes in the last couple of years.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Riga: University of Latvia Press, 2015
Keywords
Video game industry, economic history, creative destruction, business model, digital distribution
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-112803 (URN)881253 (Local ID)881253 (Archive number)881253 (OAI)
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2010-0908
Available from: 2015-12-15 Created: 2015-12-15 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved
Karlsson, S. & Sandqvist, U. (2014). Den digitala tekniken och den svenska skolan: rumslig upplösning och försämrad läsförståelse?. Geografiska Notiser (2), 63-68
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Den digitala tekniken och den svenska skolan: rumslig upplösning och försämrad läsförståelse?
2014 (Swedish)In: Geografiska Notiser, ISSN 0016-724X, no 2, p. 63-68Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund: Geografiska notiser, 2014
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88848 (URN)881251-881253 (Local ID)881251-881253 (Archive number)881251-881253 (OAI)
Projects
Svenska skolan, Läsförståelse, Internet, Datorspel
Available from: 2014-05-16 Created: 2014-05-16 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved
Sandqvist, U. (2013). 9 av 100: om könssegregationen inom den digitala spelindustrin. Umeå: Umeå universitet
Open this publication in new window or tab >>9 av 100: om könssegregationen inom den digitala spelindustrin
2013 (Swedish)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to describe the gender segregation and the existing barriers preventing a more equal gender representation within the Swedish game development industry. There has always been a strong belief in computer technology and new information technology and its potential to create a more equal and democratic society. These hopes have rarely materialized. Instead the same problems remain. Digital games are currently one of the most important popular cultural commodities and affect many people both young and old. This study shows that although the industry has expanded rapidly, the gender segregation is still comprehensive. There seems to be three kinds of obstacles to a greater integration. The first kind are structural problems surrounding how companies are established and how they expand. The second kind are internal factors like workload, negative jargon and the kind of games that are games created. Finally there are problems related to external conditions such as education and the game culture as a whole. These barriers seem to reproduce gender imbalance and create a complex system where multiple changes are required to achieve a positive development and gender balance within the industry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2013. p. 24
Series
Umeå papers in economic history, ISSN 1653-7378 ; 42
Keywords
Könssegregation, jämställdhet, spelindustrin, Sverige, datorspel, tv-spel
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-84229 (URN)881253 (Local ID)881253 (Archive number)881253 (OAI)
Available from: 2013-12-18 Created: 2013-12-18 Last updated: 2019-02-15Bibliographically approved

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