Launched last week at the Dania Games Expo 2015, the Institute for Danish Game Development aims to raise the level of conversation about digital games and will translate research into games as a media to a more applicable form, which can be used directly by Nordic game developers.
“We have two main goals, both of which centre on raising the level of conversation about digital games.”, Director of Institute at the Institute for Danish Game Development, Mikkel Lodahl, starts out as he explains what the purpose of the Dania Games-organized institute is.
“Firstly, we wish to broaden the conception of digital games in the general public. By broadening people’s conception of what games are and what they can do, we aim to help people understand games better and eventually to broaden the market to make more types of games financially sustainable.”, he says, and continues to the second main goal for the institute:
“Secondly, we wish to integrate and facilitate a complex understanding of games in a way that is practical and applicable for the industry. A lot of great research is being made on games, but rarely with a view to actual game development in the formulation and dissemination of it. We aim to rectify this by creating a range of products that can be used by the industry for inspiration and systematization. Obviously, you can’t find a formula for fun, but you can plan and analyze and communicate in ways that are smarter than others, which should help more game ideas make it to prototyping and make the eventual implementation of the ideas better.”, Lodahl adds.
The institute will reach these goals by publishing products such as a just-released e-book, aiming to create a toolkit of information that can be used directly in game development.
“We will publish products – the first of which is a Danish e-book available now. We will take publicly available research and show how it can be applicable. We will gather influential researchers and industry members from all over Denmark to discuss and map out the present and future of game development in the country. And we will provide knowledge, discussion, tools and answers to anyone who asks for them.” Lodahl says to Nordic Game Bits.
And while there is no official release schedule for similar studies and e-books, Lodahl indicates that there will most likely be produced one or two e-books per year, based on the knowledge and research the institute gathers. In addition to the e-books, the institute will also produce several smaller publications, possibly using other media than e-books, Lodahl teases.
To fund the efforts of the institute, Dania recently received about $600,000 as part of a larger $4.5 million EU funding to be distributed among partners in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark under the “Scandinavian Game Hub” project.
But why now, and is there even a need for an institute like this? Yes, according to Mikkel Lodahl, who points out that it is time to stand up for what games are and can be. We have to look toward the future and never stop progressing.
“One of the speakers at the Dania Games Expo – Anders Rauff-Nielsen – actually made a point I’ve been pondering in the five years I’ve worked at Dania Games. In terms of timing, digital games have been around roughly as long as films had in the 50s. Back then, a bunch of experience had built up in the industry, some very cool experiments were being and had been made, but the general awareness of films was still at the level of them being light entertainment, and the industry basically worked by tradition, habit and gut feeling. Then, through concentrated film criticism and a rising tide of popular voices chiming in about the experiments and experiences possible in film, we arrived at the point we are today, where the extreme breadth of things possible to do in film – from Lars von Trier to Michael Bay – seems common sensical. It is not. There were people who stepped up at a moment in cultural history and did the work that made the film industry able to make masterpieces in all genres, and made the audience able to receive these films. We propose that now is a similar historical moment for digital games, and we’ll take the opportunity to stand up for games.”
A lot of effort is already being put into the Danish games industry, and the Institute for Danish Game Development aims to support the efforts of organizations such as Interactive Denmark, Shareplay, and DADIU, but also fill the gaps that still need to be filled.
“We aim to build on and support these achievements, as well as fill the gaps left by their activities. Digital games are a big field with space for many different types of understandings of what games are, how they can be made, and how they can be played.”, Lodahl explains.
But above all, Lodahl points out that the aim for the institute is to make the complex field which is game development more accessible for everyone. One step at a time.
“A complex field deserves complexity. But we also aim to facilitate an understanding of this complexity that makes it practical to use and accessible to grasp, without simplifying it into irrelevance. For the last five years, we have built up an understanding of how to do that in our extremely practical educations that facilitate research to craftsmen. It is high time the rest of Denmark benefitted directly from this.”, Lodahl concludes.