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From Malmö with love: 4 things we learned at Nordic Game

Quality, not quantity
From Malmö with love: 4 things we learned at Nordic Game
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As I boarded my flight to Copenhagen it quickly became clear to me I was heading into the unknown: I was about to attend my first ever conference in the name of

The event set to be graced with my presence was Nordic Game in the Swedish city of Malmö and, with no expectations on my part, it was a somewhat strange experience.

I'd earmarked what talks might be of interest, and I'd packed my signature jumper and shirt combo to make sure that I could pass as proffessional at the after events, but I was actutely aware that I was leaping into the abyss, silently hoping that someone, or something, would reach out and catch me. Thankfully, Nordic Game obliged.

It might sound like a slogan event organisers would dream up for promo posters, but Nordic Game is truly a conference for the people, by the people. Chatting to colleagues, speakers, and attendees - who all wished me luck on my maiden voyage - it was agreed that our move on Malmö was but a small drop in the event ocean.

However, if Nordic Game is small, then I'm now more sure than ever that size doesn't matter.

Small, doesn't mean bad, or uninteresting. It means intimate. It means quality, not quantity. It means connectivity. Surely it's at the smaller events, the events that give us time to think, reflect, and absorb, where we learn some of the most valuable lessons, the prime picks of which I've laid out for you here:

#1: The best developers embrace their flaws

As people squeezed into the Unity Theatre looking to grab some tips from charismatic Indie developer Mike Bithell - creator of Thomas Was Alone - there was probably one piece of advice they didn't expect to be walking out with.

You see, rather than embark upon a never-ending quest for perfection, Bithell explained that the best developers must embrace their flaws. The creative process is a messy one. It's brilliant, exhausting, and incredibly complex, and the end product will reflect that.

If more developers realise that they'll never be able to create a flawless product, and instead embrace their technical insecurities, they'll be a lot happier, and probably more successful.

“I'm not actually pushing the limits of technology, I'm just doing a bad job and getting away with it. I'm never going to make Watch Dogs,” revealed Bithell.

“Right now we can be a bit messy. We can be a bit sloppy. We don't have to be perfect coders. Unity allows us to get away with that, and it's great.

“No one is ever going to celebrate you for your awesome programming skills. No one cares because coding is a means to and end, [so] stop sending me tweets telling me how to indent my code.”

#2: Kickstarter is about storytelling, not crowdfunding

The first word that springs to mind when I mention Kickstarter is probably 'money'. After all, that's what the crowdfunding platform is there to do: help developers fund projects they're passionate about.

Kickstarter's VP of community, Cindy Au, wants to change that perception, because Kickstarter really isn't about the money. It's about storytelling. It's about creating a bond between consumers and creators. It's about you.

"It's important to remember what our mission is, and that's to help bring people together to make new things. We want to help people with their ideas," explained Au.

"Kickstarter is about much more than money. Ultimately it's a place where developers can find a new audience, nurture their existing community, and build the game that they want to make.

"It is really important to be a person on Kickstarter. When you're running a Kickstarter project, it's about you. It's about your team. Kickstarter is your story."

#3: Unity will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine

Everyone in the industry has likely heard of Unity, and some of you are probably using the platform to create a game of your own. However, simply being known isn't enough. Being the go-to development platform isn't enough.

No, according to Oscar Clark, Unity has bigger ambitions than that.

Unity will change the world. It's powerful promise, but it's one that Clark made without hesitation. Thanks to Unity's recent acquisition of Everyplay, Clark believes that the firm is now perfectly positioned to make the move from game-maker, to game-changer.

"We're trying to create a place for everyone who loves games, a place where we can discover content in easy bite size chunks, a place that's free to both developers and their audiences," explained Clark.

"Unity is the equivalent of the electric guitar, and the electric guitar changed the world.

"We've changed the way we think about game design, development, and monetisation, and we've done it at exactly the right time. It's an amazing place to be, and I'm glad that I'm a part of it all."

#4: Nordic success due to Nordic values

Why is the Nordic games industry so successful? It's a question many have been attempting to answer in the hopes of replicating that success on a global scale, and until this year's Nordic Game, it's a question many had unsuccessfully grappled with.

It's arguably a touch misleading to suggest that there is a conclusive 'answer', because, in reality, there are a number of reasons behind the Nordic industry's rise to the top.

Thankfully, David Polfeldt, MD at Massive Entertainment, was on hand to tackle the big question, ultimately revealing that Nordic ideologies are the catalyst behind the 'Scandinavian boom'.

"We learned to use good tools, we learned to think ahead, and we learned to only trust a person whose advice actually makes your conditions better,” explained Polfeldt. “We [have a history of] taking great designs and making them work.”

“We are humble, and we work hard, but we also have an incredible amount of arrogance that makes us the best.

“However, it's also struck me that roughly 30 percent of our staff are non-Nordic. So, while we sometimes call this the Scandinavian boom, maybe the real reason we’re so successful is because we're so open minded. We embrace people.”