Jan Berglin

Jan Berglin and his wife, Maria Berglin.

Jan Berglin (born 1960) is a popular Swedish cartoonist, known for making satirical commentaries mainly about everyday Swedish life (mostly for the middle class), though often also about culture and politics, and often with references to more or less famous literature and philosophy. While sometimes coming off as somewhat old-fashioned (which he occasionally acknowledges in his comics) and dismissive of “low culture”, it’s far from unusual for him to discuss modern popular culture and subjects of interest to younger people (probably because it would be difficult to satirize everyday life otherwise). I’ve managed to dig up two comics by him that focuses on the subject of video games, and will provide my own translations of them. Continue reading

Softa med oss – The Last Assignment (2017)

The game’s title screen, with the main character and what I assume are the game creators.

I admit that a big reason for me wanting to write about this game is a certain provincial pride. Softa med oss – The Last Assignment (I would translate the first part as “Chill out with us”, “softa” is an anglicism from the word “soft”, in this case meaning to hang out in a relaxed manner) was created by Jenny Hellström, Kate Ekberg and Josefin Wahlgren when they were students at the LBS (short for “Ljud & Bildskolan”) high school in Helsingborg, my home city. I first became aware of the game when the local newspaper had an article on it, since it had won two awards: Best 2D Graphics at the LBS Game Awards, and Best Diversity Effort at the Swedish Game Awards (both competitions are mainly for student and hobbyist game makers). I will probably be writing about other games from these competitions in future posts, but local patriotism forces me to start with this one. Continue reading

ABC 80 (1978)

ABC 80 with cassette player.

To be honest, there doesn’t seem to be very many pieces of notable electronic hardware related to games produced in Sweden. For the most part, we’ve imported computers and consoles from other countries (in the early days, they were sometimes rebranded with Swedish names), with early home computing mostly being done on things like Texas Instruments, Commodores, Spectrums and Amigas, later giving way to Macintoshes and IBM PCs. However, one notable exception to this in the early days of personal computers was the ABC 80, a machine wholly designed and manufactured in Sweden, and often considered being one of the early driving forces behind “computerizing” the country. It was never really big when it came to gaming, but many young Swedes in the 80s, who would go on to game development careers, had their first encounters with computing and game programming on it. Continue reading

Svensk videospelsutveckling: Från 50-tal till 90-tal (2016)

The book cover, featuring an impressive collection of Swedish games from different eras.

This book, the title of which translates to “Swedish video game development: From 50s to 90s”, is one of the best resources on Swedish game history, and one of the major reasons for me seriously considering starting this blog. It’s currently only available in Swedish, which is unfortunate but understandable, since I imagine that the subject matter might not sell enough copies outside of Sweden to motivate a translation. But since it will most likely be a major source of information for this site, I thought it only right to give it its due. Continue reading

Kosmopolska (1997)

Note: This post was originally published on Markera Som Oläst, an otherwise Swedish-language blog by me and my friends. Writing about this game was what inspired me to create The Swedish Games, so it’s only fitting that this should be the first post about a game on here.

“The last thing that leaves you is imagination…”

The game Kosmopolska, which was released on PC CD-ROM in 1997, begins with the unnamed main character finding himself locked in a prison cell, with amnesia. He has no idea who he is or why he’s imprisoned, and the only other person he can talk to is a prison guard who refuses to give him any information, other than vague hints that something terrible has happened. However, the main character (referred to as “The Self” in the game’s credits) soon begins to discover that when he looks or interacts with certain ordinary objects in the cell, he is mysteriously transported to a strange world of imagination for short periods of time. This world is a sort of alternate history in which Poland (implied to be under Soviet rule) is engaged in a space race with other nations, with the main characters in these sections being three enthusiastic Polish cosmonauts. The overarching goal of the game is to help Poland win the space race, while trying to figure out how the imaginary world is connected to the real world, and ultimately to find out who the prisoner is and why he is imprisoned. Continue reading

Why a website about Swedish games?

The game Stugan (“The Cottage”), with a classic Swedish red cottage on the cover.

There are, of course, a plethora of sites about the history of games in all their forms, from the big hits to the more obscure. But, unavoidably, the majority of English-language game sites focus on English-language games, with an emphasis especially on games from the USA, with the one major exception of course being games from Japan. This is perhaps a consequence of the internet itself having its origins in America, so that the first writers about games online were American, and later writers building on their writing. Whatever the case may be, it’s unfortunate (but, again, to some extent understandable) that games from countries other than the USA and Japan are often seen as strange curiosities, unless of course they’re translated into English (or made in English in the first place), and even then, they usually only gain attention if they become big worldwide commercial hits. I’m certain that there are many fun or fascinating games from many different countries that are languishing in obscurity due to language barriers and other causes. Continue reading