Another year has passed – and what an eventful year 2023 turned out to be! Looking back at what has been another twelve months of fantastic community development in our region, we’d like to share some highlights from what’s happened in and around Game Habitat.
For starters though, we’d like to acknowledge that not everything that happened this year has been positive. Our industry globally has seen many projects being halted or canceled, and a lot of people have been laid off, the global economy has taken a downturn, and we have two wars in our immediate geographical proximity. We know that a strong community can be just as important in tough times as in good times, so if there’s anything Game Habitat can do to support you or your game company, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us (if you’re not already connected to anyone at the Game Habitat team, send us an email or write to us at Discord). Despite tumultuous times, though, our regional game development industry has continued to progress well. And from around the regional community, we have so many things to celebrate! Here are a few things we want to share from our horizon from the past year:
Our team grew further as we welcomed two new people! Our new Business Development Manager, Jesper Krogh Kristiansen, joined the team during spring, after many years of experience being in a similar position in the former Interactive Denmark/Vision Denmark organization as well as a past as a freelancer in the games industry. In September, Måns Billing joined as our Talent Developer, after running things at Gameport, the game incubator and cluster, as well as the project Game Development for Kids & Youth in Blekinge. With these two lovely additions, Game Habitat is now a team of nine people (though most work part time) covering various areas within our operations to work towards enabling the best environment for game development!
Our members and community kept growing in size and number this year as well! This year, we welcomed six new members to the Game Habitat family: Future Games, She Was Such A Good Horse, Tuxedo Labs, Ernst & Borg Studio, Blackdrop Interactive, and Infinite Mana Games. New networks are also forming in the community, where we have launched forums for studio founders, and a HR Network and a Production Network. For next year we are looking into enabling more networks for various disciplines to connect and meetup for knowledge sharing and community support. The GEM community is growing and provides continuous support to create an inclusive culture for game developers in south Sweden by working closely with the local community for positive change in the industry and creating empowering spaces for women in games. The pilot for GEM’s mentorship program has now successfully run its first batch of mentor couples – with 26 participants matched up together for mutual exchange and personal development through mentorship.
And, of course – 2023 marked the year for Game Habitat’s ten year anniversary and DevHub’s fifth! To celebrate this fantastic milestone, we threw our biggest meetup yet, gathering 600+ people for a late summer festival party in Malmö (see photos from the celebrations here). As part of our anniversary celebrations, we launched our new vision: to enable South Sweden to become the world’s most diverse, equal, inclusive, and thriving ecosystem for global game development. The next step in the vision process is to get all actors on board, such as members, private partners, public organizations, and academia. If you’re reading this, chances are we’ll planning on contacting you during the process, but please do reach out if you want to get in on the work early.
Our projects are reaching some milestones as well: where one has ended and another has started. The EU-funded GASS project is wrapped up after 3,5 years of developing a holistic support process for early-stage companies and increasing diverse talent in the regional games industry. As we leave the GASS project behind, we’re excited to bring with us and develop the results from the project, e.g., Incubator Handbook, Support Network, #WeMakeGames interview series, A Newbie Guide to the Games Industry and a continuation to develop a regional Seed Fund. Keep an eye out for all these assets to be published on our website soon! This year, the BSG-Go project, that we are a partner of, began. Aiming to create resilience and better cooperation between the European game clusters, Game Habitat’s main contribution will be a pilot project around hybrid pitching and hybrid events (meaning a mix of online and physical events). After preparatory work and setting up the necessary infrastructure, these initiatives will begin in 2024.
Together with our partner Invest In Skåne/Region Skåne and several member studios, we’ve been traveling to international conferences throughout the year for a joint talent attraction campaign. We’ve been to London Games Festival, Game Access Conference in Brno, Czech Republic, and Game Industry Conference in Poznan, Poland. During the autumn, we also ran a digital ad campaign directing talent to available job openings at our campaign website welcomehome.dev. Clearly, there’s a lot of talent in Europe who are keen to work for studios in south Sweden, some of whom have already relocated and taken up their new position!
Our events have continued to connect individuals from around the community in various sessions and meeting spots for knowledge exchange and networking. We hit new records on participation as we hosted five of our beloved Game Developer Meetups at Grand, Gränden, and Malmö Live in Malmö, as well as the traditional, legendary Annual Brännboll BBQ in a sunny park. We’ve organized several editions of our Seriously Indie format, a Studio Tour and Kickoff Mingle during the Nordic Game Conference week. We’ve run several events focusing on games as Culture; The fourth annual edition of Spelkunnighetsdagen as well as partnering with Centrum för Dramatik for Stories within the Story – a conversation about writing and narrative design in games between Soni Jörgensen (Hazelight Studios) and Aoife O’´Friel (Ubisoft Massive). We ran the second edition of GEM week, a whole week around the International Women’s Day, to highlight diversity, inclusion, and equality in games, with community members taking turns hosting the community for network and knowledge-sharing events. We also explored new event formats to bring value to the community, such as Diverse Talent | Games Career Day – an inspirational day aimed towards women who are interested in a career in games, where we had 80 participants joining for talks and networking with representatives from nine of our member studios. We also did Climate & Games | Awareness Day, a half-day event focusing on climate impact in our industry, Mentorship cafés for studio founders, and a Playtesting session for devs to test and give feedback on each other’s projects.
DevHub turned five years! But in 2023, DevHub also expanded, opening a whole new floor to offer new opportunities to companies looking to join the game development hub. DevHub is currently housing 24 game companies and 100 inhabitants, presumably making it the biggest Game Development Hub in the world. Sign-up now if you’re also interested in joining the DevHub family! Our successful collaboration with Invest in Skåne was also extended in 2023, offering international companies the opportunity to try out DevHub and our regional games industry in this free office space. By the end of 2023, we’ve hosted seven guest companies from many different countries, such as the Philippines, Iran and USA, making new friends and connections in our region! In these past five years, we’ve had over 80 companies and 450+ people housed at DevHub. We said goodbye to some of our beloved inhabitants as they outgrew our space and moved on to their own places, but of course we also got to say hello to new companies opening up an office in Malmö and becoming part of the DevHub family!
Other highlights include our joint effort together with Dataspelsbranschen and Dataspelscentrum where we arranged a seminar in the Swedish parliament around games as a cultural expression in June. We want games to be accepted as a cultural form and granted the same support structures as other cultural expressions. During the year we also received additional funding from Region Skåne to focus even more on business and innovation.
These highlights wouldn’t be possible without so many individuals throughout the community, we cannot thank all of you enough for supporting us in our mission to build the best environment for game development here in southern Sweden, and we hope that you’ll stay with us for another year!