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.

Trekamp (“Triathlon”) for the Swedish computer ABC 80.

With that in mind, I’ve come to think that the best way for me, a Swede with interest in game history, to contribute to game history writing and documentation, and widen the scopes of such endeavors, would be to write about games created in my home country. Of course, big famous Swedish games such as Battlefield, Minecraft, Candy Crush Saga and so on has had plenty written about them in English, but my searching has found very few English-language resources when it comes to lesser-known Swedish games, or about the history of Swedish game development. In fact, until a few years ago there didn’t even seem to be that many resources in Swedish about our country’s game history! I do genuinely think that there are many interesting Swedish games that deserve more attention than they’ve gotten, or that might become more understandable if their history and cultural context was understood.

Fairlight, an early commercial success for a game developed in Sweden.

I will hopefully describe many interesting details about the history of game development in Sweden in future posts, but here is a quick summary: Interest in video games became big in Sweden during the 80s, with consoles and home computers imported from America, Japan, England and other European countries. Several “bedroom coders” cropped up during the 80s, some selling their games to studios in other countries, but rarely publishing them on their own to any great audience. During this time a fledgling demoscene also grew, and it was mostly here that the future founders of the major Swedish game studios had their start. The 90s saw gaming in Sweden gaining more mainstream acceptance, and the first major international commercial successes. This in turn lead to the big famous Swedish game studios known today. Writing about Swedish game development history often focuses on the commercial success of “the Swedish game wonder” of the 2000s (often compared with the huge success of Swedish music export), but I do think there is more to be said, both about the early history and lesser-known current games.

Kosmopolska, a fascinating Swedish 90s multimedia game.

Therefore, the focus of this site will mostly be on more obscure Swedish games, mostly because I think it’s a fascinating subject that hasn’t been explored much yet. I might occasionally write about some of the more famous studios and their games if I come up with some interesting angle that I don’t think has been explored yet, but I suspect that most of them have been covered quite thoroughly but writers better than I. I don’t have any big chronological list to check off, most of the time I just choose whatever game takes my fancy, games that I think deserves more attention or have some interesting piece of Swedish culture attached to it. Speaking of which, I will from time to time also write about non-game Swedish media, such as movies, TV programs and comics, that focuses on or at least mentions games, to perhaps give some insight into how the game medium has been viewed in Sweden through the years, or just some glimpses of interesting Swedish culture in general.

An early logo for Digital Illusions, which would late become known as DICE.

I do think it’s important to note that I’m no professional games journalist, game creator or game historian. This is just a hobby, and I know that there are other people more talented when it comes to research and writing. Most of my sources for background information will be from other excellent researchers and writers (some of which are linked to the right), or simply personal recollections, with all the inaccuracies that might entail. Also, English isn’t my first language, so it’s very likely that there will be grammatical errors and strange wordings, but I hope that my texts will be mostly understandable.

How We Know We’re Alive, a modern indie game set in a small Swedish town.

What I’m really looking forward to is seeing how non-Swedes react to this site, what they think about the games and other things I will be describing. I’d love to see plenty of comments and discussions, perhaps insights into how well-known some of the more obscure games might be outside of Sweden, or suggestions about other English-language resources on Swedish games (or just non-English games in general!). Of course, Swedish readers and commenters are welcome as well (though I would prefer if you write your comments in English, so that non-Swedes can understand them as well). I believe some of the more obscure games might not be well known in Sweden either, so wherever you’re from, I’m sure you’ll learn about games you haven’t heard about previously.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s