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Sweden needs more games developers, experts warn

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Sweden needs more games developers, experts warn
Sweden is behind major titles in gaming like Minecraft. Photo: Damian Dovarganes/AP
13:05 CET+01:00
Sweden is in urgent need of more games developers if it wants to maintain its position as one of the top nations in the field, industry experts warn.

According to trade organization Swedish Games Industry (Dataspelsbranschen) there is a worrying shortage of skilled labour within the computer games industry in Sweden, preventing companies from hiring and expanding.

“We constantly hear about both big and small computer games companies who are looking for staff,” Johanna Nylander from Swedish Games Industry told news agency TT.

The expert added that while many young Swedes are opting to study relevant courses, companies also need ready-made talent for the present.

“A big section of the industry needs skilled professionals with several years of experience. The gaming industry is young and experienced staff has always been in short supply. A combination of people directly from vocational education and experienced graphic and games designers from elsewhere is needed,” Nylander noted.

The trade organization also pointed out that long processing times at the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) make it more difficult for games companies in the country to recruit staff from outside of Europe, with skilled migrants an important resource for studios.

As The Local has previously reported, Sweden is due to take a fresh look at its complicated rules for foreign workers this year after high-profile criticism in 2016.

While vocational schools and colleges train around 300-400 games developers in Sweden every year, many opt to work elsewhere in IT or the tech industry, where the pay may be better. Others choose to work abroad.

“The gaming industry is in itself so small that many talented games developers choose to jump between different companies across the world to develop and work on new projects,” Nylander said.

Some studios have tried to adapt to help solve the problem. RPG producer Lionbite for example provides work experience for developers, then allows them to stay on once finished in order to gain more experience.

“We have talented employees, but it can be difficult to find exactly the right skills, especially if you're looking for innovation and new ways of thinking,” Lionbite game director Victor Leijonhufvud explained.

In the last decade Sweden has given the world household names in gaming like Candy Crush and Minecraft. Even Zlatan Ibrahimovic is keen to get in on the action, with the footballer buying 12.5 percent of Swedish gaming studio Isbit Games in September.

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