#WeMakeGames interview series:
What is your background?
“Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, I would spend my days out in the forest with my dog, and evenings hanging out with friends and playing games. Around 12, I started a small online community for 3D graphics and modding, which became a very reinforcing way for me to learn some programming and graphics tools. Back then, working with games felt more like a dream than a career option but my interests in games would guide my path forward. I studied two bachelor programmes, in psychology and graphic design, worked as a software developer and graphic designer in a few different startups and industries, joined an ad agency, and worked with performance marketing and customer journeys. Finally, I realized that working in games is really a career option and that the XP from my previous roles were sought after.”
- Name: Henrik Rosvall
- Age: 36
- From: Originally from Borås, now living in Malmö
- Enjoying: “Exploring nature and new bicycle routes, playing and listening to music, and being a crazy plant person”
- Favourite games: “I’m trying to keep up with the indie scene because there are just so many beautiful new ideas spawning all the time. Spiritfarer is one of the most heart-warming experiences in games I’ve had, and I find myself thinking about it frequently.”
- Profession: “I’m a designer and developer, former co-founder of Akribian and currently a producer at Paradox Interactive“
Why did you start working in the game industry?
“In 2017 – by chance or destiny – I returned to Lund University for a psychology course. While looking for a supervisor for my thesis, I got to talk to Martin Hassler Hallstedt, who was doing a PhD on using behavioural analysis to teach math to children through an app. Long story short, he did not supervise me. Instead, we joined an accelerator in Silicon Valley, climbed a mountain together in Yosemite and then decided to co-found a company, Akribian, making learning an adventure based on research in learning psychology.
Thinking back to my childhood and how games helped me find motivation to learn new skills, the idea of combining teaching and games felt like a perfect match. I mean, if children can spend hundreds, even thousands, of hours mastering mechanics in games – why are the same methods not used in teaching? I think other industries have a lot to learn from games.“
“Other industries have a lot to learn from games.”
How has working in the industry been for you?
“I’ve experienced a tremendously welcoming atmosphere in the local community. People collaborate across companies, share knowledge, and develop the games industry together. It’s really the opposite of my experience in the advertising industry, where I would sometimes see quite a bit of hostility between companies.
A big challenge for Akribian was to find the balance and a clear position between education and entertainment. We were somewhere in between, with one foot in both worlds, and we had to be mindful, making clear decisions instead of trying to please everyone.
I think there is a lot of potential for innovation at the crossroads of games and other industries, and I hope to see more people pursuing ideas that expand the field in new directions. So, if you’re considering pursuing a career in the games industry – do it! Yes, there will be challenges and failures, but also learnings and successes. And they’re all part of the loop.“
What is a day in your work life like?
“I recently started working as a producer at Paradox Interactive. It is still too fresh for me to make a summary of what I do, so I can give a summary of what I was doing before that. My previous role, as a chief technology officer at Akribian, covered both product management and production. In short, I spent my days developing the product direction and roadmap, working together with user research to identify user needs, translating them into customer journeys and user stories, managing sprints and supporting the teams in the development of features. However, things change fast in startups and it makes everyday work unpredictable – I spent my last six months at Akribian trying to adapt the business to the changing economy. Unfortunately we didn’t manage, and Akribian is no more. But the variation, even if stressful, keeps making every day a fresh experience.”
“Developing a positive organisational culture and sustainable working environment for those people is one of the most fulfilling things I can think of.”
What’s best with your job?
“While at Akribian, I realized that if we are to develop products that teach and inspire children to learn and thrive, we must start on the inside. For me, that is all about the people. When I interviewed some of the first persons who would later join the company, I was surprised and humbled by someone actually wanting to work with us. That feeling has stuck with me ever since – every day I’m grateful for having the opportunity to collaborate with people I admire. Developing a positive organisational culture and sustainable working environment for those people is one of the most fulfilling things I can think of.“
How would you advise others that want a job like yours to pursue it?
“For the future of the industry, diversity is key. I remember from the early days of Akribian when we were only two guys in the team, it became evident very fast that we are way too limited in the ways we think to create a game that doesn’t exclude significant parts of our target group. As the team grew in terms of for example educational and work backgrounds, gender and cultural diversity, and different interests – ideas and considerations started coming up that we would never have thought about. Still, it always felt like we were just scratching the surface. To come up with new ideas and build innovative products, we need collaboration between people with different perspectives. If you don’t have a direct background in games, the industry might just benefit from the fact that you are different and can bring new questions and ideas to the table. Don’t be a stranger!”
The #WeMakeGames interview series allow individuals in the game industry to tell their story, about their current work, how they got to where they are and why they believe the games industry is such an enjoyable industry to work in. We move beyond programmers and level designers, to showcase the wide range of roles making up the studios creating some of the world’s best games – right here in south Sweden!
The #WeMakeGames interview series is part of the EU funded project Game Accelerate South Sweden (GASS). Read more about the GASS project here.