Comment & Opinion

4 things we learned about Finland, Asia and war games at the Northern Game Summit

Fresh from Kajaani: top tips for making serious gaming experiences and succeeding in South East Asia

4 things we learned about Finland, Asia and war games at the Northern Game Summit

Northern Game Summit is a two-day conference held in Kajaani, northern Finland on October 6th-7th.

NGS gathered approximately 650 game developers, veterans and students alike, from around the globe to network, hear the latest news and of course to have some fun together.

Now in its fourth year, NGS has received praise for its “easygoing environment for game creators to mingle, connect and exchange ideas”.

This year NGS had also an additional event called Day Zero on Wednesday 5th. Where the actual conference days offered presentations of varying topics in three auditoriums for industry professionals and would-be professionals, Day Zero was a smaller occasion for special pass holders only.

Day Zero presentations were about the glory and pain of the industry, delivered by games industry experts, including Ilari Kuittinen from Housemarque and Jaakko Kemppainen from Mindfield.

Click the link below to discover what we learned while attending.

Event image credits: Raisa Krogerus





Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Games can matter

    Games can matter logo

    On Thursday morning the keynote speaker Tsahi Liberman set the course for the event with his presentation “The Social Impact Cauldron: Brewing A Life Changing Game Elixir”.

    Liberman spoke very touchingly of the meaningfulness of games not only in teaching skills, but also teaching empathy and creating social interaction. Games like This War Of Mine and Valiant Hearts: The Great War have had a strong emotional impact on players.

    Keep it real

    Liberman also discussed a project on crisis areas, where games have been used to teach children on both sides of a conflict to get to know each other and team up.

    In the presentation Liberman gave tips to game developers in making great games that matter:

    • Make it hurt, don’t sugar coat it.
    • Give the possibility of another point of view, the other side of the story.
    • A happy ending is not a necessity.
    • Make it creep under the player’s skin.

    Following the NGS Twitter feed projected on the big screen, it looks like many found Liberman’s speech inspirational.

  • 2 Headhunting and co-operation

    Headhunting and co-operation logo

    The CEO of Finnish mobile game studio Critical Force Entertainment, Veli-Pekka Piirainen, announced CFE’s plans to create a new model of working together with Kajaani University of Applied Science (KAMK).

    The Finnish school system in universities of applied sciences is heavily built on co-operating with the actual employers and local working life.

    Special training

    CFE and KAMK are taking it one step further by creating Critical Force Academy, a special training program for game development and game technology students from KAMK.

    It offers the students an opportunity to hone their skills in developing mobile games and is also a path to work in the company after graduation.

    The first set of second year students will be chosen in the spring 2017 and they will start their first projects in the summer semester. It is beneficial for all participants.

    The university gets real life projects for their students and the students get motivating projects and coaching from professionals, not to mention the job if they succeed in their work. And Critical Force Entertainment gets to choose their pick in the future professionals.

    Everybody wins!

  • 3 South East Asia as valuable mobile gaming market

    South East Asia as valuable mobile gaming market logo

    As it is well known, Critical Force Entertainment recently received a $4.5m investment from Korea’s NHN Entertainment.

    But CFE is not the only one. Right now South East Asia is a great market for mobile games, and many games that don’t make it big in anywhere else are doing just fine in SEA.

    But thriving in the SEA market requires a strategy of its own. Johary Mustapha, founder and CEO of Forest Interactive, gave a thorough presentation of how to do that, or at least where to begin.

    Payment considerations

    Firstly, most of the games are sold by third-party stores and access to Google Play Store is not always available. The mobile connections are not always top-notch, and that needs to be taken in consideration in file sizes, for example.

    In most countries there are more cell phones than credit cards, and credit card payments are not well trusted. That is why payment methods may require some thinking.

    Language options and localisation are important things too, when planning on conquering the SEA mobile games market. Language is not a question only for the playing experience and tutorials, but for the support lines, too. Because the customers will call.

    Mustapha kindly recommends finding a good local agency to help with the local specialities.

    And one more very important tip: tweak the prices for South East Asia. There are enough possible players to cover the amount lost per purchase if the price is tempting.

  • 4 BLERB!

    BLERB! logo

    On Day Zero, Nordic Game hosted its Game Discovery Contest premiere, where six teams pitched their games. The winner of the contest was announced on Thursday morning.

    Finnish Team Ocmo and their ninja-rope platformer Ocmo won the contest and gets to participate in the Game Discovery Contest finals at Nordic Game 2017 in Malmö. Congratulations, Team Ocmo!

    The octopus-like blob went straight to the hearts of the audience too. We had the pleasure of playing the game during the event; its touch-only controls and physics-based movement takes a minute or two to learn, but represents fun and addictive gameplay once mastered.

    The artwork and audio are distinctive and amusing. Ocmo’s sound, “blerb”, was both seen on the Twitter feed and heard in the crowd every now and then during the event. Ocmo will be released for iOS later this year.

    See you next year

    Every conference is a great possibility for networking, meeting colleagues, possible partners and affiliates.

    So in addition to all this informative chat, Northern Game Summit has found a reputation as an intimate and friendly event with great parties, despite being on the smaller side.

    The event offered a Business Mixer evening for networking which included invited professionals from the Finnish film and music scenes as well as games.

    The venue limits the amount of tickets to less than 500 per day so it was very busy this year - the event was sold out well in advance. 2017 details will be available at the NGS website soon.