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Design Foresight

Gaston Welisch Trend Report

Ordinary games
for ordinary people
What inspiration can we take from niche,
meaningful nordic movies to make nordic
games more respectful of our attention?

Intro p5

Keywords p6-7

Part 1 : Nordic games p8-31

-Well-known examples
-Some places of inluence
-Freemium games
-Interview #1
-Interview #2
-Alternaive ways of funding : Pako 2
-Field work : Board games and retro gaming

Part 2 : Responsible digital consumption


-Designers role

Part 3 : Nordic cinema p38-49

-Well-known examples

-Nordic Art
-Meaningful experience
-TV series
-Some places of inluence
-The cinema as a social space

Part 4 : Forecast p50-61


References p62-63


I was irst interested in Nordic media and art, and researched these topics
to gain an idea of their speciiciies, their Nordicness. There, I found that the
video game industry is very important in Nordic countries, both culturally and
economically. This industry is very reliant on digital consumpion and technologies.
My report is aimed towards game start-ups who want ot difereniate themselves in
an oversaturated market. As digitalisaion faces growing criicism, what inspiraion
can we take from niche, meaningful nordic movies to make nordic games more
respecful of our atenion?

I will irst explore the nordic game industry, what makes it so succesful, what its
speciiciies are, and what challenges it faces. I interviewed a professor and a student at Aalto
to have two diferent perspecives on the mater. I also planned to interview the organisator
of Games Now ! (a series of lectures around the Nordic game industry), and graduates from
Aalto who launched their own game developing studio, but they did not reply.

I will then look at digital consumpion. The counter-trend to digitalisaion will be a key
inluence to the way games are designed in the future.

In the third part of the report, I will look at Nordic cinema, and pull key speciiies that
would be interesing to apply to Nordic games. I talked to the Finnish-Iranian ilmmaker Hamy
Ramezan, and the Finnish screenwriter Tove Idstrm. I tried to interview them, but they
unfortunately did not reply.

The inal part of the report is my forecast for the Nordic game industry in 2030. I will
look at examples that are trendseters for my future scenario. I will put together 3 design
moodboards to give a sense of what inluences game designers, and I will present 3 future

Keywords Responsible


game Crowdfunding

New Virtual
Retro platforms reality
gaming Board
games Smart
Low budget
Art status

Niche audience experience

Narrative based

Small scale
Social issues

Slow rythm

Nordic Games

The nordic game industry is important and growing rapidly. It produces internaionaly
available itles. Some of them were notables trendseters, and have become classics of the
medium. Finland generates the most revenue, at around 3% of the global market. The gaming
industry is considered to be Finlands biggest cultural export.

Substanial grants are awarded to game developpement in the nordic region. In

Finland, for example Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovaion) awards up to 10
million euros per year to the Finnish game industry, allowing start-ups to go through the
early stages of their development. Various other programs exist, such as the Nordic Game
Program, a joint iniiaive to fund games aimed at preschoolers, that display diversity in
characters (diferences in sex, ethnic background, sexual orientaion, etc.) and/or that have a
clear foundaion in Nordic cultural tradiions.

During the the Nordic Game Fesival (referenced later in the report), David Polfeldt,
the CEO of Massive entertainment (Swedish video game developer) gave a few speciiies
that made the nordic game industry so dynamic and compeiive. For him, pracical
thinking has to do with this success :
Im proposing that this is really the foundaion of the Nordic game industry: good tools,
good planning and only trusing people with an eye for the pracical. This can be found in
Nordic countries succesful start-up culture. A game company is a business that exports
internaionally, so business savviness is essenial.

But a long tradiion of storytelling also helped nordic games. Polfeldt underlines this
by using Viking stories as an example. For him, Nordic countries have a long story of writers
and storytellers.

Nordic countries are also well known for their innovaivity. Their current success in
mobile games can be tracked back to the glory days of Nokia. In the early 2000, before the
dot com bubble, developers began making games for mobile. Although it was not yet the
right ime for the mobile revoluion, this paved the way for todays growth.

Nowadays, the nordic game industry is mostly mobile focused. 80% of innish game
companies focus on mobile games (source : Neogames.i).

The massive growth that the industry has experienced since 2008 seems to have
reached its peak, with the number of new start-ups slowly decreasing since 2012. To some
professionals this is indicaive that the industry is reaching maturity (source : Neogames
innish game industry report 2016).

State of the Nordic game industry in 2015
Credit : Samuli Syvhuoko and KooPee Hiltunen

Well known examples

Minecrat is a swedish game, designed by Markus Persson, and developed/published by

Mojang in 2009. It sold 121 million copies, ranking it as the second best selling game ater Tetris.

Angry birds is innish game, developed by Rovio in 2009. Games of the franchise
were downloaded over 3 billion imes. Rovio is valued at around 2 billion $. Angry birds is
considered one of the most succesful mobile games.

Clash of clans is a innish game, developed by Supercell in 2012. In 2015, the game was
the top grossing app on both the App Store and Google Play, with an esimated revenue of
1.5 million dollars per day.

Snake is a innish game, developed by Nokia for its phones in 1997. Its famous for
being one of the irst mobile games. It came pre-installed on around 350 million devices.

Quantum Break is a innish game, developed by Remedy Entertainment and published

in 2016. Its famous for having a live-acion mini-series implemented in the game, with the
acion of the players inluencing the narraive.

Candy crush is a swedish game, published by King in 2012. It was one of the irst
freemium games. This business model allows downloading the game for free, but generates
revenue thanks to a small porion of players paying to get extra bonuses.

Some places of inluence

- The Nordic Game Fesival is a yearly fesival held in Malm, Sweden since 2006.
It awards nordic games. Its organised by The Nordic Game Insitute, which consists of
game producer associaions in the nordic region: Dataspelsbranschen (Sweden), Icelandic
Gaming Industry (Iceland), Neogames (Finland), Spillprodusenforeningen (Norway) and
Producenforeningen (Denmark).

-The Nordic Game Jam takes place annualy in Copenhagen, Denmark since 2006. It is
one of the largest game jams in the world, with around 900 paricipants in 2016. Paricipants
have 40 hours to make a game around a theme or restricions.

These events share the same start-up spirit Nordic countries are well known for.
They allow devellopers to meet publishers and promote their games. They also facilitate
networking, the creaion of new teams. Creators can pitch their ideas, awards are given. This
gives Nordic games a beter internaional recogniion, and a stronger community.

-Aalto University ofers both a bachelor and a master degree in game design.
According to the courses website, many former graduates have started their own game
companies. Tutors include professionals from the innish game industry.

There are a few game design departments in Nordic countries The Royal Danish
Academy of Fine Arts also has a game design department, just to name a few. Most of them
have free tuiion, which makes them very interesing for foreign students. Students will oten
focus on the design (fun, playability, game mechanics) of games rather than on their
technical aspects. These schools oten also teach the business side of games.

Nordic game fesival (2017)

Freemium games

Freemium is a business model in which a product or service is ofered free of charge,

but addiional services or content can be purchased. It has been used in a limited way since
the 80s, with free demos for sotware being ofered for the user to test. The term has been
coined in 2006.

Freemium games were succesfuly introduced by the Nordic mobile game industry, and
spread to the rest of the world. The business model has been around for a few years, and it is
seeing increasing criicism. Now is the perfect ime for a counter-trend.

Recently, however, The freemium model has been used more widely and extensively.
Freemium sotware or services rely on a minority of premium users and/or ad-revenue.
Skype is an example of this : its free, but a few professional features are available thanks
to skype credits. This allows you to set up a skype answering machine, send text messages
and call phones from skype.
Services like Facebook, on the other hand, are not freemium. Facebook relies on user-
data and adverising. But Facebook games, like Farmville, also rely on Freemium.

In games, Candy Crush, a Swedish game published by King in 2012, is the irst succesful
example of applying the Freemium business model to games. This has now become an
industry standard, with 90% of the apple store revenues coming from in-app purchases
from free games.
Freemium games are designed to be addicive and keep players playing regularly.
They have been criicised for being repeiive, using a frustraion/reward cycle to hook
players. The beginning of the game has easy goals and a lot of rewards, but they get
increasingly long and hard to get. The idea is to place roadblocks along the game to induce a
frustraion that can be solved by paying. There are 3 main strategies to do so :

-Giving a limited number of acions for a given ime (energy bars). The player has to
wait for it to replenish, or pay to skip the waiing ime.
-Acions take a certain ime to perform : for example, you purchase a building, and you
have to wait for it to be built, or pay to skip the waiing ime.
-A level is excepionally hard. It either takes a lot of ime to complete, or you pay to
skip the level. This is paricularly strange to me, because you pay so you do not have
to play.

Another tacic to get people to pay more easily is to distance the purchase. You irst
have to buy digital currency (coins, diamands, gems), and then you can make in game
purchases. This allows player not to think about the money they are spending, as the
conversion rate is oten too complicated to let you realise what you actually spend.

Here the player has to wait 4 hours, but he can pay to skip the wait.

In-game currency

Disturbingly, I found many aricles and slideshows online, aimed at developers,
describing how to make these games as addicive as possible.
In his aricle Why the freemium model is a good thing, Ricardo Vladimiro argues that
this trend is posiive. It makes games more accessible to a large majority of players. Only a
handful of people are paying for the rest :

Lets imagine another thing: you made a game and your total revenue was $45.000. Which of the
following scenarios would you prefer?
-900 people bought your game for $50.
-2.250 people bought your game for $20.
-100.000 people downloaded your game for free. 2.250 of them spent on average $20. The
remaining 97.800 spent nothing. On average each of the 100.000 players of your game paid
And this is why the freemium model is a good thing:
-Extraordinary games are made available to everyone for free.
-A very small percentage of the users pay on average less than they would if the game was
-Accouning all users the total revenue is potenially higher at a cost per user lower than a cup
of cofee.

But its not that simple. This aricle equates success with quality, but these games are
not designed to be saisfying. The business model changes the experience of these games,
as they are built around it.
To see these diferences, one can look at another sector of the gaming industry :
console and PC games. Those are mostly bought once (with prices between 50-70 ). They
oten have a linear narraive and can be put away once they are inished, or replayed. In that
sense, they are more similar to movies, while most mobile games are cyclical, and never end.
But the popularity of freemium games has even spread to PC and console games, and in-
game purchase are now more regular.
According to the SWRVE moneizaion report of 2016, only 1.9% of players actually pay
anything in freemium games. And only 10% of the paying players (0.19% !) bring almost 50%
of the revenue. These 0.19% are called whales in the industry. This brings the quesion :
if the game is designed to be frustraing for the 1.9% of the players, why do the rest sill play
However, this business model is relaively new and some argue that it will be replaced.
While most nordic games are now freemium, Angry birds, for example, was iniialy released
as a game you only had to buy once. Now some itles in the franchise are freemium, but not
all. Other moneizaion models exist, such as one ime purchase, merchandising, intellectual
property (making ilms : The angry birds movie). Due to the growing criicism of Freemium
games, some industry specialists believe the pracice will either lose importance or become
more subtle.
As the growing criicisms of freemium games show, some people are becoming aware
of these game design tacics used to keep them addicted. The saturaion of the game market
also plays a major role. Freemium games need a lot of users, and only a handful of games
can become really successful.

With this general view of the industry, its speciiies, and the challenge it faces, I did
interviews with a professor and a student at Aalto to have more speciic views on these
insights. I wanted to interview professionals, but I unfortunately did not receive any reply.

Nordic trendseter for Freemium games : candy crush

Interview #1

This live interview was with Francesco Fontana, a Italian design student with a game
design minor. I thought it would be interesing to have a foreign students point of view
because he would be able to compare his experience with he experienced in Italy.

Gaston : What makes the Aalto game design department diferent to other game
design programs ?

Francesco : The main diference is that usually, at least in Italy, game design schools
are more programming oriented, so it will be more like a master for informaic or sotware
engineering students. They wont have design basics, and they wont know how to manage
the thing from a design point of view.

G : So its more about design than technical aspects ?

F : There are also technical aspects, but what you learn is more about design, process
and game design in general. There are programming courses and 3D modelling courses, but
its not the main thing. In fact, Im doing the minor and I only have to take part in the game
design class.

G : What makes Nordic games diferent ?

F : Its probably very much mobile oriented. At the moment 90% of the games
in Finland are mobile. But there are also huge companies like Dice (Swedish video game
developer), which develops Batleield. There is also Remedy, which develops Alan Wake, and
are very narraive focused. But to me it doesnt make much diference if they are based here
or in the US. There are tons of internaional things here.

G : What kind of projects are you doing ? Is there a common theme ?

F : There are 3 game projects during the year, and one is about cloning a game. When
you clone you can understand all the mechanics. One is about creaing a new small game.
The third project is about creaing a big game and its about 5-6 months of development. Im
about to deliver the clone game.

G : Is this diferent from your experience in Italy ?

F : Actually, in politecnico, in the engineering school, theres a master course about

game design which design students can join. This course is done every year, and everyime
there is about 3 or 4 published games, while the games developed in the media lab are never
published. (...)

G : What do you think of Freemium games ?

F : They illed a gap in the market. Casual gaming wasnt a thing, and now it is.
They have a lot of people playing them so it must have some value for them. They are very
easy to play for like, 5 minutes. I recently studied the economics of games. Its very tricky,
very psychological, and partly evil. Moneizaion is a necessity. Probably, in the development,
you need to take into account moral decisions. But I dont think Freemium is totally bad, as
long as you create value for your player. I mean, its good for the industry, there is some
innovaion, and its highly compeiive, which is good.

G : There is currently strong criicism of these games. What do you think comes next ?

F : Games are shiting from products to services. With all the updates, you can
always add content to your game. So maybe concepts can be brought from service design to
the industry. The future is probably cloud gaming. You pay a fee and you can have access to
whatever games. But its not very feasible for mobile games, maybe more for PC and console.
Its like Neflix for video games.

G : But people spend a lot of ime on mobile games. More than they spend on Neflix,
for some. Maybe it would make sense for mobile games ?

F : A very powerful thing about the free-to-play is that you can download it, delete it,
download it again ater ive minutes. If you had to pay a subscripion, maybe the quality
of the games would have to be beter. One of the success points of Neflix was to have
super standard original tv series, and just a couple of them, like house of cards. I dont know
if that could work, because it would be very hard to shit from free-to play to this kind of
cloud gaming, at least on mobile. On PC and on console, it would be convenient, money-wise.
The average mobile game is user is probaly like a 40 year old lady.

G : We spend more and more ime on our smartphone, and companies are compeing
for consumer atenion. How will that inluence the way games are designed ?

F : Mobile games are designed to let you enjoy the game, but not too much.
At some point, you need to stop playing. The game doesnt work anymore, they are waiing
imes. They are trying to get you back on the game, but not too oten, otherwise you will
be bored and will delete the game. So they are trying to ind the perfect imespan for that
kind of mechanic, and they are very good at doing it. But there is another growing thing
: compeive gaming, E-sports, like League of Legends, DOTA, Starcrat. If the game is
compeiive, you will earn more money from the events. 87% of the income from compeiive
games are made from the events. Or in the markeing and licensing, like football.

G : So, Candy Crush tournaments ?

F : Maybe not, but you can see Clash Royale tournaments. Desiny 2 came out lately,
and its on the compeiive side. Its merging MMOs with compeiive irst person shooters,
and Acivision patented a matchmaking technique, in which the games makes a proile about
you. If it understands that you want a sniper, it will put you in a match in which you are
compeing with a sniper player, who is way beter than you. So will be more likely to buy a
beter weapon, with real money. And then, ater you bought the weapon, you are matched
with a lower level player so you feel cool. You are empowered by your purchase.

Interview #2

This email interview was with a game design professor from Aalto. They prefered
to stay anonymous. For the purposes of the report, they will be called P for professor. I
found it interesing to interview a professor at Aalto because they have to be aware of the
transformaions of the industry to teach the next generaion of professionals.

Gaston : What makes Nordic games diferent ?

Professor : Games being such an internaional market, its quite hard to noice naional
characterisics in games. Of course for example Finland has strong knowledge and success in
the Mobile F2P-market (F2P = Free to play/Freemium) at the moment, so we are known for
that. Sweden has more AAA-game companies, and Denmark has an interesing indie games
scene, that is not necessarily very known to the general public. But all in all, I cant point out
to one speciic thing that would make a game especially Nordic in nature.

G : What kind of projects are your students working on ? Are there similariies in the
themes they choose to tackle ?

P : Students have been working on quite diferent projects too, ranging from mobile
games to story oriented PC games and serious games. Most bigger games have been quite
casual from a narraive perspecive, so their narraive layer is usually quite thin, so its
diicult to analyze the themes very deeply.

G : What do you think about Freemium games ?

P : F2P games have of course made a lot of money for certain companies in Finland like
Supercell, but from a game designers perspecive I ind the design restricions the business
model imposes on games to be quite limiing, and am worried in that sense about what the
efect of F2P will be in the long run if the business model just keep on growing. F2P-games
seem to be very much against narraives in games, as they moneize beter if the game just
coninues forever, and thus they kind of force the games to be more about grinding and
less about tailored rich experiences, and it seems the general public isnt ready to pay for
these sort of experiences anymore ater geing used to free games, and thus there is a risk
the game medium will be impoverished. Of course its not only about stories, its also
about puzzle or any handmade content. Its diicult to see how the F2P-model will work
in the long run, so it might be that some evoluion happens that takes things into a new
direcion again. F2P has also ethical problems in my opinion (especially how the business
is reliant on so called whales), but it is of course diicult to draw these lines someimes.

Copenhagen game collecive is an experimental game collecive. They are non-proit and put
forward types of play that the game industrys big boys cant or wont address. They are for
inclusiveness and gender equality, wich is noteworthy in the gaming sector. They also focus on
non-digital games.

G : There is currently strong criicism of these games. What do you think comes next ?

P : It is always very diicult to guess what happens in the future. Theres been some
promising signs in F2P geing beter in the sense that the mindless go and click something
every two hours games are not all there is anymore, for example Clash Royale seems like
a much beter game than many of the older F2P hit games. But lets see, I hope F2P doesnt
destroy other kind of games, or people ind innovaive ways of making a more diverse set of
F2P games than the irst generaion has been.

G : Is there a strong indie gaming scene in nordic countries ? What kind of itles are the
best example in your opinion ?

P : As previously menioned, especially Denmark has an interesing experimental

indie game scene with Copenhagen Game Collecive, and of course there are interesing
projects coming out of other Nordic countries as well looking forward to Noita for
example. Geing the audience to ind your game as an indie dev is very hard nowadays, so
the business side is really hard. I guess bigger indie game successes would be Inside for
example, even though I dont know about their sales numbers. My Summer Car has been
quite a phenomenon in Finland too, and made a big commercial success too against all odds.
PAKO has been the most successful indie mobile game from Media Lab in the recent years,
geing about 10 million downloads in its lifeime.


The irst interview gave me insights into what Aaltos game design department
teaches. I also found it interesing that service design is now inluencing games and their
moneizaion. It seems like the interviewee had a fairly pessimisic view of mobile games
and casual games in general. Compeiive games were also brought up, and I was surprised
that most of the money is generated from events and merchandising.
The second interview has given me a lot of interesing references to check out.
The Copenhagen game collecive is especially interesing. They have a lot of research and
experiments around non-digital games, but also about the physical artefacts used for
video games (controllers ...). There are also focusing on thought provoking content, and
have produced games for exhibiions.
It was good to hear about freemium games from the perspecive of a teacher and
professional. For him, freemium has made people less ready to pay to access content,
and this brings a risk that games cant be succesful without incorporaing the freemium
mechanics. He nuanced his point, saying that the business model could improve and
become more subtle.

Pako was developed in Aaltos media lab in 2014. It is a minimalist game with very basic
controls. It has been featured by the apple store. Its a premium game (you only pay once to
buy it). Saisfacion comes from mastering the controls.

Noita is being developed by Nolla games, a game design studio based in Helsinki.
Noita is very experimental in its nature : the gameplay is based on the games physics.
The pixels are procedurally generated, and the environment interacts with the player.
It has not been released yet.

Alternative ways of funding : PAKO 2

Pako was menioned by my second interviewee. I researched it and found out the
developers were making a second game. The game is not inished yet, but it can be bought in
early access. This led me to further research ways in which indie games get funding.
With early access, developers can get revenue while they coninue developing the
game. The website where the game can be bought also hosts a community forum where
players can leave feedback and share their experience playing the game. In return, the
developers have to release frequent updates and share info about advancements. I ind
this interesing because it bypasses the tradiional publishing channels. For now, this is
only possible for PC games (restricions are stricter on mobile and consoles) but this could be
a way things advance in the future. The game sill needs tradiional funding however : some
gameplay has to be present for a game to be released in early access.

Crowdfunding plaforms are also becoming a good tool for funding independent
video games. With an interesing concept and a well planned campaign, enough support can
be gathered to develop the game. Shovel Knight (2013, American) is a great example of this.
It raised 311 502 $ out of 75 000 $ and became a cult indie classic.

The advancement in computer technologies and graphics makes retro games cheaper
and easier to program, making it a popular style for independent games. This can be seen
in both these examples. The limitaions also bring simpler game mechanics, which are used in
creaive ways by developers.

Shovel knight (2013)

Screenshots from the game and excerpts from the Steam page

Field work : Board games and retro

For my ield work, I went to Poromagia, a board game store in Pasila. I chose this place
because I saw an old NES game console in the window, and it caught my atenion. I wanted
to research an analogous ield to video games.
When I arrived, I noiced a group of people with branded bags outside, chaing
with a can in their hands. As soon as I entered, I realised how lively it was inside. As well as
selling games and various game accessories, they also organise board game sessions (almost
everyday unil 8/9pm!).
This made the store feel more like a community meeing point than a store. The
gaming tables actually occupied more space than the shelves. They also sold sodas and beers,
which I found interesing. This reinforces the importance of the place as a meeing point.
The gaming event seemed well organised. There was a screen with ime indicaions,
which I think represented the ime remaining in a round.
I was also surprised by the amount of retro gaming games, consoles and accessories
available. I iniially though this was more of a board game shop, but it seems like there
is a big audience for retro gaming. The prices were surprising to me. Most of the games
costed around 20 or more, which I didnt expect. Im used to seeing these kind of games in
garage sales for a few euros, or in video game stores, in the second hand secion. Ther they
are bought because they are cheaper. But some of them gain a cult status, and have their
community. Some of them were really expensive and are collectors items. This feels strange,
as some of these games came out during my childhood.
Its interesing to see how certain items change status with ime. When they came
out, these games were adverised as brand new, exiing, and using the latest technology. Now
they have a nostalgic value.

0 0

Mega-man 5 (1992) - for sale in Poromagia for 300

One of the shelves of the retro gaming area,
illed with various controllers.

Examples of ebay sales of classic nintendo consoles

NES classic ediion and SNES mini

This made me curious. There is certainly a business opportunity there if people are
ready to pay this much for old games. Nintendo realised this. They released a miniature
version of their old console, pre-loaded with 30 games. It sold out almost immediately. They
are now working to get more stocks out, and they will release another miniature re-ediion of
another classic for christmas 2017. These models are worth around 80-100, less than what a
good condiion original model would cost with a few games. I checked and most online stores
have already sold out the irst available models.
Its also worth noing that a lot of the games for these old consoles are muliplayer,
making them a tool for social interacion.

The board game community enjoys a place to meet-up, and Poromagia successfully
established itself as a popular gaming spot. The revival of classic games is an interesing
phenomena for my report, as they require social interacion in a physical space (no
internet muliplayer). They also can not be moved around (no mobile gaming) so the ime of
playing is limited.
I can see the link between board games and Retro games. Board games need to be
set up in a physical space, and explained before playing. Retro game consoles have their
dedicated space in the house, they need to be turned on before playing. Both aciviies have
a ritual dimension to them.

Playing tables


Nordic countries have a succesful start-up culture, and nordic

games have beneiciated from internaional success.

There are a lot of events for networking, making games and

adverising new games.

Freemium games force the games to be more about

grinding and less about tailored rich experiences

The gaming industry is reaching maturity, and oversaturaion is

staring to be a problem with the freemium business model.

Retro games and board games are gaining popularity, and

highlight the importance of social interacion in games.

Independent games are becoming easier and cheaper to

make, and new plaforms are involving players in the process.


This research led me to look further into digital consumpion. Freemium

games brought a problemaic : shouldnt games be designed for opimal enjoyment,
and respect the players ?
This is what I researched : How do we spend ime and atenion on digital
media ? How is this consumpion evolving ? How are designers involved in this
process ?

Responsible digital

YouTube autoplays more videos to keep us from leaving.

Instagram shows new likes one at a ime, to keep us checking for more.
Facebook wants to show whatever keeps us scrolling.
Snapchat turns conversaions into streaks we dont want to lose.
Our media turns events into breaking news to keep us watching.

As of June 30 2017, 88.1% of North Americans and 80.2% of Europeans have access
to the internet (source : Other coninent are catching up fast.
More than half of the world populaion has access to internet now. As our world becomes
increasingly connected and digital, our media consumpion shits from tradiional media to
digital media. We are now staring to get data on how this consumpion is afecing our
focus and our habits.
Games are directly linked to digitalisaion : Online muliplayer gaming was impossible
before internet, and advancement in in digital technologies are driving the medium
forward. However, games are inevitably ied in with the rest of digital consumpion, and
will be inluenced by key changes in consumpion behavior.

Internaional ime spent on social media. Source : Global web index

Time spent by American tweens (8-12) and teens (13-18) on

media (videos, music, social media, games & internet browsing)
source : common sense media

American data on digital consumpion and mulitasking

source Source: Nielsen U.S. Social Media Survey, 2013.


Evoluion in search for digital detox - source : Google trends

The more our phones do, the more they demand of us. Someimes its good to take a break.
(...)It makes phone calls and sends texts. Thats all. source : MP01 phone at

There is a common realisaion that we are always connected. Our digital services rely
on our atenion for proit. Digital detox camps and spas have become increasingly popular
since 2012. Mindshare, a global markeing company, put this over-digitalisaion in their 2017
Trends report. Even Tech companies are staring to realise this. The MP01 dumb phone is a
great example of this. Its adverised as a stylish alternaive to hyper connected phones.

There are now apps to help regulate and monitor the ime we spend on our
devices. Digital detox camps and spas have become increasingly popular since 2012. Camp
grounded, an american digital detox camp, esimates that their clients spent on average 13h
on screens daily before digital detox.

Images from Camp groundeds website about their digital detox camps

Designers role

Timewellspents design checklist

Timewellspent is an initaive indicaive of this trend. It asks designers and technology

makers to beter consider ou ime while designing interacions. Their website features
quesions like What if we designed devices for quick in-and-out uses, not endless
interacions?. It also provides people with tools to take acion and reduce the amount of
distracions caused by their devices. A lot of apps are following imewellspents guidelines
and help reclaim atenion and focus.


A lot of games now depend on their players playing oten. These games rely on
frustraion to drive players to pay. These mechanics have similitudes with other digital
media : Social media creates a fear of missing out to keep users on the plaform longer.
However, as consumers are beginning to be aware of these pracices, game developers will
have to adapt to the changes, and respect peoples atenions.


Will innovaion once again come from the Nordic countries, and bring a viable
alternaive ? For get insights on how to make more meaningful games, I researched
the Nordic ilm industry. I looked at the speciiciies of Nordic ilm, and what made
them valuable to their audience.

Nordic Cinema

When looking at the nordic ilm industry, its important to keep things in perspecive.
The combined nordic populaion is lower than that of the UK alone. Therefore its ilm
industry cannot produce a ton of blockbuster all year round. Nordic ilmmakers and
producers rely on their cultural speciity to set themselves apart.
Revenue wise, the Nordic ilm industry doesnt seem to export as well as the game
industry, but it doesnt mean it hasnt signiicant cultural inluence. Nordic ilms are thought
to be consistent in quality, and nordic directors oten win internaional awards. Nordic ilm
have been more popular in the past, most notably in the irst half of the 20th century, with
the swedish golden age of cinema (1917-1924).
Nordic countries are ideal locaions to shoot movies. Large areas of nature are
available, and the landscapes have a very disinct look that cant be seen anywhere else.
Some countries, like Iceland, also incenivise TV and ilm producers to shoot there, by giving
tax breaks. Batman and James Bond, for example have goten tax breaks thanks to the
Icelandic governments iniiaive.
The Danish Film Insitute subsidises up to 25 ilms and grants around 100 million $
per year. This has helped ilmmakers like Lars Von Trier get on the internaional stage with his
feature ilm, The Element of Crime. Similar iniiaives exist, like the Finnish Film Foundaion,
the Swedish Film Insitute, and the Norwegian Film Insitute.

Sweden Denmark Finland

Number of screens : 830 Number of screens : 396 Number of screens : 283

Per Capita : 9.9 per 100,000 Per Capita : 7.9 per 100,000 Per Capita : 5.9 per 100,000
Number of ilms produced Number of ilms produced Number of ilms produced
(2011) : 38 (2011) : 43 (2011) : 42

Norway Iceland

Number of screens : 422 Number of screens : 38

Per Capita : 9.6 per 100,000 Per Capita : 13.4 per 100,000
Number of ilms produced Number of ilms produced
(2011) : 35 (2011) : 13

Number of cinema screens and ilms produced per country Source : Wikipedia

9.4 million
5.7 million
Total populaion
(including associated territories) :
5.2 million
Norway 26.9 million
5 million

Compared populaion of the US, the UK and Nordic countries. Source : Wikipedia

Well known examples

Drive is a 2011 American Neo Noir Thriller, directed by Danish ilmmaker Nicolas
Winding Refn. Although it might not be a nordic movie, it highly contributed to Refns career,
who won the award for best director at the cannes Fesival for Drive. It grossed $78.1 million
at the Box oice.

The unknown soldier is a 1955 Finnish war drama, directed by Edvin Laine. It recalls
Finlands ight against the Soviet Union during World War II, only a decade aterward.
2.8 million Finns went to see the movie in theaters. It has been remade in 1985 and another
remake is coming out in 2018. The movie has such cultural signiicance that it airs every year
on television on Finnish Independence Day. It is the most successful Finnish ilm ever made. It
grossed around $9 million at the Box oice.

Ruben stlund, Swedish ilmmaker, has won the 2017 Cannes palme dor with his
ilm The square, graning it internaional visibility. The ilm is mostly in Swedish, with some
dialogue in English. The award shines a light on nordic ilmmaking.

The Hunt is a 2012 Danish Drama, directed by Thomas Vinterberg. It stars Mads
Mikkelsen (well-known for his part in Casino Royale). Mikkelsen obtained the price for best
male performance at the Cannes Fesival for this movie. It also got a Bodil Award for best
Danish movie. It grossed $18.3 million at the Box oice.

Nordic art

Its important to consider the inluence of Nordic art has on Nordic media. Common
key themes can be found. This could in turn be an inspiraion to Nordic games.
SInce the advent of romanism, Nordic countries have an history of art that depicts
human experiences and emoions. The scream, by Edward Munch depicts the Modern man
facing existenial crisis.
The nature in Nordic countries has inspired a lot of Nordic art. As sustainability is
gaining more importance lately, nature in Art is also depicted to raise awareness on climate
issues. The Nordic nature also conveys a feeling of contemplaion, of romanic spleen.

Meaningful experience

Nordic media is oten human-scale, depicing social drama rather than larger than
life scenarios. Eila, for example, is about a forty something cleaning lady suing the Finnish
government ater being ired when the cleaning business is privaised. The ilm is based on
real events. An IMDB review by a Finnish viewer summarises this focus on human experience
well :
In Finland, it is not only maverick ilmmaker Aki Kaurismaki who makes ilms about
ordinary mortals having troubles being part of Finnish society. Meaningful ilms
about Finnish society and its problems are made on a regular basis by other directors
too. They are not turning a blind eye to the ills of their society. It is a posiive
development that their arisic conscience is forcing them to do something for the
beterment of Finnish society and Finnish cinema.

They also ofer progressive point of views, although some counter examples exist.
Melancholy is also a reccurent theme, with dark, brooding main characters. Nordic noir is a
perfect example of that.
The slow rythm of Nordic movies force viewers to paricipate more and interpret
what they see. In contrast to Hollywood movies that seek to entertain at every moment,
nordic movies incorporate more breathing space. This lets viewers understand and relect
on what they see.

The scream, by Edward Munch (1893) Hyperkineic kayak, by Jete Gejl Kristensen

Eila, by Jarmo Lampela (2003)

TV series

Films are not the only narraive medium that Nordic ilmmakers are working with.
Some Nordic TV series have had good success, and a few have been exported internaionally.
As TV series are becoming more popular and more easily available, the medium
is being experimented with. Their episodic nature allows to go more in depth in diicult
subjects, and introduce several characters and subplots.
Real humans is a Swedish TV series that started in 2012. It tells the story of the
introducion of androids in the Swedish society. Rather than focusing on huge catastrophies,
the series shows how peoples daily lives are afected by the changes. Each episodes brings
a new problemaic. Themes like unemployment, extremist poliics, sexuality, loneliness, aging
and reirement are tackled. The rights to a remake were sold, and an english remake called
Humans started in 2015.
Skam is a Norvegian TV series that started in 2015. It was watched worldwide, and
was very popular with teens. It experimented with releasing addiional social media content
as the narraive unfolded. It was very progressive, and featured a diverse cast. It dealt with
issues such as acceptance, bullying, and idenity.

One of the social media accounts created for the Skam characters.

Real Humans (2012)

Skam (2015)

Some places of inluence

-Super 16 is a danish ilm school, held by students. It is inanced in part by the

Danish ilm industry, including the Danish Film Insitute. Every year, a large porion of movies
compeing for best ilm at Denmarks Bodil Awards are from Super 16. The Bodil awards are
one of Europes oldest awards, established in 1948.

-The Guldbagge Awards are held by the Swedish ilm insitute and celebrate the
achievements of Swedish cinema. Ingmar Bergman won the award for best director for his
movie The Silence during its irst year in 1964.

-The Nordic Internaional Film Fesival is held every year in New york. It is backed by all
Nordic Consulates and gives internaional visibility to nordic movies.

-The Scandinavian Internaional Film Fesival is held every year in Helsinki. It receives
up to 3000 visitors every year. It aims to highlights todays conlicts such as Racism,
Radicalism and Human crises issues to the Scandinavian and European audience.

-The Helsinki Internaional Film Fesival is also held every year in Helsinki. It seeks
to introduce foreign ilms to Finnish audiences, but also serves as a meeing point for
industry professionals. An event is organised solely for professionals, called the Finnish Film
Afair. There, screenings are organised, and a wide variety of professionals have a chance to
network. Panels and discussions such as Developing a ilm for the American markets
are organised.

The cinema as a social space

Although movies can now easily be watched at home, Movie theaters stay popular
place. They can serve as gathering places, for talks, screenings and events. They allow more
people to meet and watch a movie together. They allow discussion ater seeing the movie.
The Riviera cinema, in Kallio, is a great example of this. It has a relaively small screening
room, but it also serves drinks and food, making the experience more of a happening.
Riviera also allows users to vote on ilms they want to see most. They organise events,
screenings of old classics and foreign ilms.

Discussions at the Finnish Film Afair.

Rivieras pop-up cinema during the Flow fesival

Because of their small home market, Nordic movies rely

on government funding.

Nordic ilmmakers arent afraid to tackle social issues.

Films oten depict small scale, human drama.

The slow rythm of Nordic movies force viewers to paricipate

more and interpret what they see.

The small budgets force ilmmakers to make creaive use of

their limitaions.

Episodic media allows creators to go more in depth with

certain topics and follow the viewer for a given imespan.

Cinema is a well established medium. Movie theaters serve

as gathering places, for talks, screenings and events.


Which of these insights could be valuable to the Nordic game industry ? In the
next part, I applied my indings and built a future scenario for 2030. Ater looking
at a few trendseters, I made 3 moodboards that give an idea of what games look
and feel like in 2030. I also made 3 diferent stories, which show games for diferent


Night in the woods is an american independent game released in 2017. It deals with
nostalgia and depression. Its set in the Rust Belt. The rythm is quite slow and it includes a lot
of character development. Developers wanted to create stories and mythologies about the
places were from and the people we know, and that includes addressing the economics of it.

Kentucky Route Zero is an also american independent game. It has been released
in 2013. It is an episodic game, and the last update is yet to be released. It follows an old
delivery man on his inal delivery. It deals with debt and ecomic despair. Jake Elliot, one of
the creators of the game, said he was very thrown of by the current socio-poliical context of
the United States, and wants to include more reference to racial inequality and middle class
life in the game.

Bjrk has experimented with interacive visuals for her VR exhibiion and has released
a music vido available in VR. Virtual Reality seems to be a great medium for immersive
experiences, and had been proven to make players feel more empatheic when making
decisions in games.

Bjrks Notget VR

Night in the woods

Kentucky ground zero





In the year 2030, Generaion Z have grown up and their childhood is the new retro.
52 Game developers are subvering the digital aspect of the era to appeal to their nostalgia.

Day to day players want unobtrusive, relaxing experiences from their games.
Focus will be put on slow and simple entertainment that soothes the senses. 53

People have realised the need to disconnect and expect companies to respect their atenion.
Games have interacions outside the digital world, and digital experiences feel more tangible.

Scenario #1 :
Ordinary games for ordinary people

In 2030, most consumers have realised the impact of digital devices on their lives.
They have thus taken steps to make their digital consumpion more responsible. As a whole,
the aitude towards digital technologies has matured. Digital naives are entering the
workforce with useful insights. Companies like Microsot and Google have incorporated tools
in their products to manage a healthy, balanced digital life. Apple and Facebook have
failed to see the incoming changes, and they are no longer relevant players in the market.

Mary is a 35 year old oice worker. She sill feels dependent on technology, has
more trouble puing distracions away than her younger colleagues. Mobile phones have
progressively been replaced by portable AI assistants. These assistants are programmed
by their owner and agree together on what amount of content and distracions they can

Marys friend recommended her a new game. During her cofee break, she plays a
litle. Ater a few minutes, a leter unfolds on the screen :

-Mary, youve been in front of a screen several hours today. Why dont you go
downstairs to the corner store ?

With the small budget Mary has allowed to the game, the game has ordered a item for
her. Her quest is to go to the corner store and interact with the clerk. Inside, she is greeted
by the clerk, who just put on a white linen shirt. His disguise doesnt really work wih his
character, but its sill fun. He gets a wooden puzzle out, and starts playing with Mary. She
only has a few minutes, but the puzzle is relaively easy. Ater she completes the puzzle, she
gets rewarded with a zen stone. Its just a rock, but a nice one.

Ater her cofee break, Mary goes back to work. The interacion was strange, but it
took her stress of. It felt good to go out for a bit, she thought. She puts the rock on her desk.
It kinda looks nice there.

Relaxing Disconnecing Slow

Ritual Analog Human scale

Scenario #2 :

Developers try to make their process as open and transparent as possible. It allows
them to get funding during the development, but it also gives them valuable feedback
on what their community wants. Enthusiasts can get paid generaing content for their
favorite games and get it integrated.
A lot of games are encouraging team-building and interacion, so new connecions
are made through them. The service economy has brought insights on how to make these
interacions as safe as possible. The plaforms to facilitate real-life meeings are well-
regulated and organised.
Some free games are fully open-source and maintained through communiies of
players. Each contributes a litle to hosing the servers, generaing new gameplay, and
organising tasks.

-Dude, no way, is that an Iphone ?

-Yeah, girl, check that out. Hashtag 2010, am I right ?

Yasir brought his childhoods Iphone 4. It sill had the original Flappy birds on it,
making it a collectors item.
It was the ith meeing of the Cool games club, and this ime, they met at Annas
house. They were a very diverse group of game enthusiasts. They chated from ime
to ime online, but the meeings were always a fun moment. The beer and the candies
probably helped, too. Some of the member were coding hobbyists, others just liked playing
games. Mikko even published a small adventure game. It wasnt really good, but sill.
Together, they played collaboraive games, of course. But they also tested the new
updates, and used the simple game ediing tools. They made fun changes when they had
good ideas. The group atmosphere helped spark their creaivity.
Although they like to meet in private, someimes it was easier to organise a meeing
in Helsinkis central library. The Hack-cafe, a DIY/gaming/cofee place, was also a popular
meeing spot. New sotwares made DIY hacking more accessible without technical skills.
The Cool games club once organised did a 3D prining session with Tanya, the owner of the
Hack-cafe. They liked playing around with things as much as they liked playing video-

Challenging Paricipaive Open-source

Social interacion Inclusive Fun

Scenario #3

It was a rainy Saturday evening, and Mikel and Katja were at home. Mikel was cooking,
while Katja was reading her cultural magazine. 10 years ago, she would have searched for
new series were released on Neflix. But criics started looking at games diferently when it
became clear they had cultural signiicance. Games had surprised the general opinion when
they tackled subjects even movies had diiculty with. Eventually Mikel and Katja bought VR
headsets and subscribed to a game plaform. Katja was looking at the review secion. She was
curious to see what criics thought of the latest Rovio game series.

-Hey, Mikel, this one sounds prety interesing. Rovio released a series where you play
as a Finnish athlete during the 2001 ski championships.
-Is that the year with the doping scandal ?
-Yeah. The game is about social pressure, and fear of failure. Its supposed to be prety

Ater connecing their VR headsets and playing for about an hour together, Mikel and
Katja have inished their episode.

-Wow, that was intense.

-Right ? Im not sure Im proud of all my decisions.

In 2030, video games have become an established medium, and the best itles
are regarded as pieces of art. Culture magazines have devoted secions and video game
reviewers. The Cannes fesival has an award for best interacive narraion. The interacivity
of video games is considered a tool for arisic expression. Creators use video games to
provoke emoions and relecion. Games spark discussions around cultural or societal
issues. Someimes controversies arise ater a launch.
Some video game franchise have opted for an episodic format to follow players for a
longer imespan, and dig deeper into complex themes and narraives.

Empathy Niche Meaningful

Immersive Thought-provoking Discussion


About the Nordic game industry :


(In french) a developers guide to making addicing games for experienced gamers :

On the current state of freemium games :


On the addicion mechanisms of freemium games :


On the counter movement against digital goods that moneize our atenion :

On the business model of Facebook :


On how freemium games undermine the experience :


On how freemium is a good thing:


On how brands cash in on the digital detox trend :


The future laboratory, about the counter-trend of the era of non-stop digital distracion

The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distracion, by

Mathew Crawford (2014)

(In french) About mental polluion, and the role of designers :


The slow death of freemium - and what comes next :

About 2 american independent games that tackle social issues and challenge people to
look at the world in a diferent way :

Copenhagen game collecive :


Publicaion by the Finnish ilm foundaion about the Finnish ilm industry :

( In french) On digital detox camps :


Nielsen digital consumer report 2014 :