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  • 1.
    Brandén, Gunnar
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
    Lindmark, Magnus
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
    Tjänstesektorns storlek: sysselsättning, produktivitet, förädlingsvärde, andel av BNP, andel av export med särskilt fokus på KIBS2010Report (Other academic)
  • 2.
    Jørgensen, Kristine
    et al.
    University of Bergen.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
    Sotamaa, Olli
    University of Tampere.
    From hobbyists to entrepreneurs: on the formation of the Nordic game industry2017In: 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)
    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.

  • 3.
    Jørgensen, Kristine
    et al.
    University of Bergen.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic history.
    Sotamaa, Olli
    University of Tampere.
    Tyni, Heikki
    University of Tampere.
    From Hobbyism to Industry. Tracing the Historical Origins of the Nordic Game Industry2013Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 4.
    Karlsson, Svante
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic and social geography.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic history.
    Den digitala tekniken och den svenska skolan: rumslig upplösning och försämrad läsförståelse?2014In: Geografiska Notiser, ISSN 0016-724X, no 2, p. 63-68Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 5.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic history.
    9 av 100: om könssegregationen inom den digitala spelindustrin2013Report (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.

  • 6.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
    Digitala drömmar: en studie av den svenska dator- och tv-spelsbranschen 1980-20052007Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This licentiate thesis describes the development of the Swedish computer and video game industry. The main focus is on the Swedish game development industry. Little research on the industry has been done and the purpose is to define the companies involved and to create an initial overview of the development of the industry. This overview will later be used as a platform for the doctorial thesis.

    Games are a growing culture form and today a lot of people are playing different types of computer and video games. Internationally the industry has expanded and some of the successful games have generated spectacular revenues. In Sweden the industry has received attention from different actors like universities, government bodies and media. There are today educations that are focused on game development and there are programs which allocates grants towards game companies. The rapid development in the computers technology has had a great impact on the game industry, which is dependent on hardware development to create games.

    The first computer games were made for some of the very first computers in the 1940´s and 1950´s. In the 1970´s a market for games was created when arcade machines and somewhat later home consoles were introduced. The industry has grown and includes today some of the largest companies in the world.

    The Swedish industry follows the international pattern but developed a bit later and the first Swedish game companies were founded in the late 1980´s. The industry has expanded, especially between 1998 and 2002. In 2005 the number of people employed in the industry had increased to over 600. During the period under study the industry seems to have had a constant problem with making a profit. Especially in 2002 and 2003 the industry has had economic problems and some of the lager companies were bankrupt.

  • 7.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
    Digitala drömmar och industriell utveckling: en studie av den svenska dator- och tv-spelsindustrin 1980-20102010Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this thesis is to explore and analyse the development of the Swedish video and computer game industry. The main focus is on the Swedish game development industry. The research was conducted with two different methods. First with a macro approach where all Swedish game developers were identified and general data from the annual reports was collected. The second part is a case study with three Swedish game developing companies focusing on the production and development of the firms.

    The game industry has expanded and some of the successful games have generated spectacular revenues. In Sweden the industry has received attention from different actors like universities, government bodies and media. Yet little research has been done about the Swedish game industry. In general the game industry outside the larger videogame producing countries USA, Japan and the UK has been ignored to a large part in academic research.

    The first computer games were made for some of the very first computers in the 1940’s and 1950’s. In the 1970’s, a market for games was created when arcade machines and somewhat later home consoles were introduced. The industry has grown and today it includes some of the largest companies in the world. The Swedish industry follows the international pattern. Evidence suggests that the first Swedish games were created in the 1950’s at the large university computers. But a game developing industry seems to have developed a bit later than internationally when the first Swedish game companies were founded in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

    The Swedish industry entered an introduction phase from the middle of 1980’s, a couple of years after the introduction of personal computers, until the end of the 1990’s. An expansion phase started in 1998. The expansion was strong between 1998 to 2002 and 2006 to 2008. In 2008 the number of people employed in the industry had increased to over 1300. During the studied period the industry seems to have had constant problems making a profit. Especially in 2002 and 2003 the industry had economic problems and some of the larger companies went bankrupt.

    The distribution among the companies shows that the concentration within the industry is growing. A few companies have expanded rapidly and have well over a hundred employees. The industry is very gender segregated and the number of women working in the industry is under ten percent.

    To study the development on a micro level, three Swedish game developing companies were selected. The focus was the development and change in production and organisation. The structure of the industry seems to have been changing with the fast technical development. A more modular structure seems to be emerging within the industry. In a number of areas a modular system has emerged. It is possible to buy more parts and productions capacity on the market. It is possible to buy game engines and outsource motions-capture work to other specialized companies.

    The relation to game publishers seems to influence the companies and create uncertainty for the game developers when they do not own the rights to the intellectual properties. The three game developers also have a similar development being founded by computer interested young men wanting to pursuit their interest as a job. The Swedish subculture around the so called “demoscene” seems to have been a factor in the early development of the industry and a recruitment base for the early developers.

  • 8.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic history.
    The changing game industry and economic cycle theory2015Conference paper (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?

  • 9.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
    The development of the Swedish game industry: a true success story?2012In: The video game industry: formation, present state, and future / [ed] Peter Zackariasson, Timothy Wilson, Routledge, 2012, 1, p. 134-156Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 10.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic history.
    The evolution of the game industry 1971-2015: innovations and economic cycle theory2016Conference paper (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?

  • 11.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
    The Games They are a Changin': New Business Models and Transformation within the Video Game Industry2015In: Humanities and Social Sciences Latvia, ISSN 1022-4483, Vol. 23, no 2, p. 4-20Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 12. Sandqvist, Ulf
    The Nordic welfare state and computer games: The Swedish case 1950-20102017Conference paper (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.

  • 13. Sandqvist, Ulf
    Then the Stars Align: The Formation of the Swedish Game Industry2016Conference paper (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).

     

  • 14.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
    Gill, Michael
    Datorspelsundret – bara ett luftslott2009In: Aftonbladet, ISSN 1103-9000, no 2009-10-03Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 15.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
    Gill, Michael
    Undret som inte fanns2009In: Super Play, ISSN 1401-8519, no oktober, p. 90-92Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 16. Sandqvist, Ulf
    et al.
    Lilljegren, Josef
    Global Gaming and a Global Game Industry: International and Methodological Perspectives on Digital Distribution in PC-Gaming2016Conference paper (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. 

  • 17.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History, Economic history.
    Zackariasson, Peter
    Göteborgs universitet.
    Business logics in Cultural Industries: The case of the Video Game Industry.2013Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The video game industry has today established itself as one of the largest entertainment industries. It is, just as the films industry, producing a product that is dependent on both artistic knowledge and business knowledge. Today the industry are suffering from a creative inability when it comes to the actual games – although it manages to find all the more creativity when it comes to finding successful business models. This paper reports on a longer study of Swedish game developers and how they find a way to distribute games in a market moving from the physical to the digital.Introduction

  • 18.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
    Zackariasson, Peter
    Handelshögskolan, Göteborgs universitet .
    The dematerialisation and democratisation of currencies: a historical description of currencies and how the physical has been replaced with the virtual2010Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper we examine the relation between the dematerialisation of currencies and democracy. We argue that money play an important role in any democratization process, as it enables and provide assets needed for individuals. Physical currency has a long history in supporting trade. It has also existed in many different shapes, depending on local demands and practices. In the shaping of virtual worlds cybercash has been made a part of this, although the trade practices depends on the type of virtual world: extension worlds or detension worlds. But, learning from the historical development, cybercash can be compared to other forms of currencies and therefore it is very likely that cybercash will be as important for any democratization process in virtual worlds as currencies has been in the physical world.

  • 19.
    Sotamaa, Olli
    et al.
    Tammerfors universitet.
    Jørgensen, Kristine
    Universitetet i Bergen.
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
    The Effect of Funding Policies on Making Games: A Nordic Comparison2018In: MAKING GAMES: The 14th Game Research Lab Spring Seminar, April 24-25, 2018, 2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Until very recently, games scholarship has directed little attention to the local game developmentscenes and their interrelations with regional and global production networks. Although the logic ofglobalization continues to erode cultural differences, regional aspects still importantly contribute tothe forms of game development, producing characteristically glocal (global + local) assemblages ofwork and play. In this paper, we explore the policies, funding schemes and support structuresaround national game industries, putting the focus on Nordic countries and especially Finland,Norway and Sweden. While all governments strive to develop policies that contribute to innovationand create new ways of organizing economic activities, our specific focus is in understanding whatkind of context the Nordic welfare state model has provided for game development.

    As argued by Kerr & Cawley (2012), the spatial distribution of the games industry is importantlyconnected to the local histories and networks, as well as financial, cultural and labour markets.Nieborg & de Kloet (2016) point out significant differences in national game related policy initiatives(e.g. tax incentives, subsidies, industry regulations) within Europe and indicate that the vastlydifferent levels of maturity national game industries demonstrate are closely tied to these creativeindustry policies. They also argue that Northern European countries are leading in research anddevelopment expenditures and game-related public research investments.

  • 20.
    Zackariasson, Peter
    et al.
    Handelshögskolan, Göteborgs universitet .
    Sandqvist, Ulf
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
    Playing the game: Leveraging artistic freedom and financial pressure in video game development2011Conference paper (Other academic)
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