For a long time, I’ve been interested in films about video games. Not films based on a particular video game, or necessarily set in a video game world, but films in which playing games, perhaps even developing games, and the culture surrounding games, are important parts of the story, setting, or at least the aesthetics. There are of course many films based around this concept in English and other languages that are more or less well-known, including everything from TRON to Scott Pilgrim and even more serious films like Reign Over Me. As far as Swedish films go, there’s only example that I know of: The comedy Livet i 8 bitar (“Life in 8 bits”).
The Swedish games on Cohost
As many of you are probably aware, Twitter has recently gone through several controversial changes under its new leadership, and many people have decided to leave the platform. Because of this, I have decided to try out a different social media platform for updates regarding The Swedish Games: Cohost. You can now follow TheSwedishGames on Cohost to get updates whenever I write a new post on the site. I might even write smaller posts exclusively on Cohost about things that aren’t within the scope of the main blog, but is somehow related to it, such as other pieces of obscure or interesting Swedish media, or obscure or interesting non-Swedish games I have come across.
For the time being, I will continue to update the Twitter account as well, until I have a picture of what kind of reach the Cohost account has, or if there is another social media platform that would be more suitable.
Agent 999 (1984)
Content warning: Mentioning of suicide.
According to the authors of “Svensk videospelsutveckling”, the currently earliest known published Swedish video game created by a woman came as a type-in listing in 1984, in the magazine Allt om Hemdatorer (“Everything about Home Computers”). The author was Kajsa Söderström from the city of Uppsala, born in 1976. The game is titled Agent 999, and was originally written in BASIC for the nowadays somewhat obscure American home computer Spectravideo. This brand of computers is now perhaps best known for being the basis for the far more successful MSX computer standard, but apparently it (like the MSX) had some slight popularity in the Nordic countries, including Sweden. In fact, one of the most comprehensive sites about the Spectravideo was created by a Norwegian, and the most popular emulator for both Spectravideo and MSX, blueMSX, was developed by Swedes. During its heyday, there was even a small user group, Nordiska Spectravideoklubben (“The Nordic Spectravideo Club”) with its own Swedish member magazine. Continue reading
In their excellent book about Swedish video game development, authors Thomas Sunhede and Martin Lindell spend a few pages on the curious fact that there are three completely separate, unrelated Swedish games made many years apart by different people, that share the same name: Rymdresa (Swedish for “Space voyage”). Actually, it might not be that curious, since it’s a fairly generic title, so it’s not surprising that different people came up with it separately at different times. In any case, I’ve decided to write separate posts about each of these games, since they are from different eras of Swedish game history, and each one is interesting for different reasons. Continue reading
The High Score CD32 comic (1994)
Content warning: Joke involving suicide.
The Amiga CD32 is usually described as something of a flop. Released in 1993, it was the third attempt by American computer company Commodore to turn one of their highly successful home computers into a dedicated games console, to compete with the “giants” of that market at the time, Nintendo and Sega. The machine was based on the chipset for the computer Amiga 1200, with a CD-ROM drive as the storage media. While it never really managed to threaten the SNES or Mega Drive consoles commercially, it’s perhaps not entirely accurate to call it a complete disaster. I’ve read in an old issue of the excellent magazine Retro Gamer that for a while, it was the most successful seller of software for the CD-ROM medium, even beating PC software. And while it didn’t have much success in its home country, it was apparently somewhat popular in several European countries, including England and Germany. While I don’t have any actual sales figures, it’s possible that this might have included Sweden as well (though I personally don’t have any memories of anyone I knew owning it). Continue reading
The Jönssonligan games (1999-2000)
In 1968, the Danish comedy film Olsen-banden (“The Olsen gang”) was released. It was evidently a commercial success, since several sequels with the same characters were made almost yearly until 1981, with one final film in 1998. The success was noticed outside of Denmark as well, with a series of Norwegian films about the similarly named “Olsenbanden” beginning in 1969, being mostly remakes of the Danish scripts. Sweden also received their own version of the gang, named Jönssonligan (“The Jönsson gang”, in a few places apparently translated as “The Johnson gang”), beginning with a film in 1981. Again, these films were mostly reworkings of the Danish scripts, though later on there were some completely original Swedish scripts, or scripts only containing parts of the Danish movies. Continue reading
A glossary of Swedish game terminology
It might be useful for this site to explain some of the Swedish words and terms used to describe games, electronic or otherwise. It’s possible that this post is currently not a complete compilation of interesting Swedish gaming terms, and I’d be more than happy to get suggestions from Swedish-speaking readers for any terms I might have missed. So it’s possible that I’ll be updating this post in the future. Continue reading
Rock ‘n’ Roll Highschool (2000)
The Swedish band Teddybears (formerly known as Teddybears STHLM) has a long and storied history from 1991 to the present day, and is well known in their home country, though I’m not sure exactly how famous they are elsewhere. They began as a grindcore band, but had their major breakthrough with their third album, Rock ‘n’ Roll Highschool from 2000, which had a decidedly different style, a style which they’ve been associated with since. The songs on the album are a fascinating mix of punk, pop, hiphop, reggae, dance music, and perhaps most importantly for this blog, electronic music, much of it possibly inspired by old video game music. Teddybears would in fact later go on to have some of their music featured in games such as Driv3r, FIFA and Need for Speed. But the focus of this blog post is their previously mentioned breakthrough album, and the song with the same name on that album. Continue reading
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)
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