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How to switch to a career in Sweden's booming gaming industry

Gemma Casey-Swift
Gemma Casey-Swift - [email protected]
How to switch to a career in Sweden's booming gaming industry
There are plenty of opportunities even if you don't have a background in gaming. Photo: Scandinav/

Sweden's gaming industry is crying out for top international talent, but the skills shortage also creates opportunities for professionals in other fields to switch to a career in gaming. Senior experts share their best tips with The Local.


Home to world-famous gaming studios like Mojang, King and DICE – the creators of Minecraft, Candy Crush and Battlefield, respectively – Swedish games have been downloaded nearly seven billion times. Every fourth person on the planet has played a game made in Sweden.

And the number of new gaming companies and employees is only increasing, despite concerns about the impact of the pandemic, according to a report from Sweden’s gaming industry association

In 2022, Swedish gaming studios increased turnover by 18 percent to 32.6 billion kronor, setting a new record. Combined, the turnover of the 23 listed computer game companies amounted to 61 billion kronor – a threefold increase since 2020 and almost twice as much as in 2021.

However, the talent shortage is an ongoing struggle, and the industry relies heavily on foreigners to plug the gaps.

“There’s a massive skills shortage, especially on the technical side, due to the sheer amount of coding required. I think the industry wants to do more to keep growing the Swedish game phenomena, but the talent shortage hinders us,” says Ludvig Moberg Edenbäck, people experience partner at Mojang Studios.

But if you’re a gaming newbie, how do you make the switch?

Bringing a fresh perspective could be your ultimate ability

Magdalena Björkman, a senior producer at Arrowhead Games, has a background in linguistics and started her career in the manufacturing industry back home in Poland.

“The gaming industry needs people from different backgrounds more than ever. We really need to encourage people who bring different perspectives to the table to come in,” she says.

After studying Japanese, Björkman worked as a translator and coordinator, acting as a conduit between Polish and Japanese engineers. One day she stumbled across a job ad for a Polish games developer looking for an assistant producer who could handle localisation, and eventually started looking for opportunities outside of Poland, landing a role at King in Sweden.

“Swedish and Polish work culture is totally different. I had to get used to not having to be the loudest person in the room to get my opinion across, which I actually really like. It was really, really nice working for King. It was a lot more collaborative. In general, Sweden felt a lot more progressive than Poland.”


Björkman knows other linguists who switched to gaming too and says being able to interpret and translate what people are saying to others is a crucial skill, especially as a producer.

“Whatever you do, you always end up working with people, communication and translation. I’ve always been trying to connect people, and as a games producer, being able to translate different perspectives to help collaboration. Gaming is also a multinational crowd. So if you come from linguistics and you know how to work with different people and cultures, it’s a good fit.”

You don’t need to know how to build games – but you need to be passionate about them

Luis Cascante, currently chief of staff at Rovio and head of the board of education for Futuregames, stresses that this is an industry that values passion. “If you don’t care about games at all, don’t bother,” he says. Gaming isn’t just a business, it’s a creative art form, and you’re unlikely to get hired if the interest and passion aren’t there.

“I’ve worked with studio founders who basically tell everyone they expect passion, whatever their role is, and if they don’t have it, there’s no place for them in their studio,” says Cascante.

Around half of Mojang's staff have a technical background, and 30 percent are foreigners. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/

Mojang's Moberg Edenbäck, who is an avid gamer, agrees that demonstrating an interest in gaming helps, although it’s not a strict requirement for all roles.

“At Mojang, we’re in a unique spot because we’ve been around for 15 years and a lot of people that reach out to us have grown up with Minecraft. Sometimes Minecraft is even the reason they started coding, and working here is basically their dream job,” he says.

“But if that’s not the case, one thing people can do to demonstrate interest is to have hobby projects. A lot of people create games in their spare time, or designers and artists create characters just for fun. If you do that, it’s definitely a positive.”


Identify your transferable skills to help you level up

Like any other industry, there are plenty of transferable skills that make your application more desirable. Coders have a slight advantage, as games are built using programming languages (specifically C++ and Java), putting experienced coders in high demand.

“If you’re a C++ developer and you have some experience, even if it’s not with games, you will always be on the map. There is absolutely no shortage of roles that you can apply for,” says Luis Cascante.

Many blockbuster games are built using C++, and experience with 3D creation tools like Unreal Engine and Unity provides the easiest entry points if you come from a technical background.

Cascante says data analysis is another sought-after skill: “It’s not necessarily part of hands-on game creation, but data analysts are definitely in demand. At Rovio, none of our data analysts are from Europe, because we simply can’t find them.”

“If you’re good at maths, statistics and SQL, studios are more likely to pick you up, even if you’re slightly more junior because there’s such a demand right now,” he adds.

DICE, headquartered in Stockholm, is one of the major players in the gaming industry. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/

But it’s not all about coders.

“Producers, artists, designers, marketers and HR practitioners are all needed to successfully build, launch, and market a successful game,” adds Moberg Edenbäck.

Project management, product management and UX design are also highly transferable skill sets, with many people bringing this kind of expertise into gaming after starting out their careers in other industries.


Network, get a mentor and look for internships

Some practical tips Magdalena Björkman shares for those wanting to switch to gaming are to network, look for mentors, and keep an eye out for internships.

“People are very friendly in the gaming industry, so just talk to them! It’s easy to reach out and approach people as mentors, which can help a lot. Also, look for internships, and go to networking events,” she says.

“There are more opportunities now compared to ten years ago, with boot camps and such. I work with a producer at Arrowhead now who had a background in publishing, but he did a course, and now he’s a full-time game producer.”

However, she urges people not to take the decision to switch careers lightly.

“Gaming can be tough. You need to love what you’re doing, take care of yourself, and have other hobbies outside of gaming. It’s easy to get consumed,” she says.


Get an education in gaming

For those who are truly committed to switching to a career in gaming, studying at one of Stockholm’s specialised gaming schools may be an option (they also offer evening classes).

Unsurprisingly, Futuregames’ Cascante is a big advocate for gaming schools and believes they’re a great pathway into the industry for people with the interest but not the experience.

“I’m chairman of the board of education at Futuregames, and we see people in Stockholm are actually taking courses to break into the industry,” he says.

“They take around two and a half years, which sounds like a lot, but you get a lot of training and professional internships in studios. The schools are really good at matchmaking between companies and students. Often the students stay on after their internships, and if they don’t, they still get at least six months of real experience in the industry.”

Minecraft has sold more than 300 million copies, making it the best selling game ever. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/

Other schools include the Sweden Game Area and The Game Assembly, which offer courses in everything from agile project management in gaming to game design and 3D modelling for artists. Most of Sweden’s gaming studios offer internships regularly, including Mojang.

Swedish universities also offer part-time remote modules in for example coding. It's free to study at university in Sweden for EU citizens and for non-EU residents who are in Sweden on another permit than a student permit, so for example work permits or spouse permits.


Ride the post-boom wave

The gaming industry has a historic reputation for only hiring people with gaming experience, but Björkman believes this mindset is changing.

“In the past, the industry has been a little elitist. It used to be that you needed ten years of experience to get into gaming, but now that’s changing and it’s becoming more open. This is great because we need experience from different industries to bring new know-how and knowledge. We don’t need to do things the same way all the time,” she says.

This is no surprise. After substantial long-term success, it makes sense that a talent-strapped industry has to start casting its net a little wider.

The conclusion? As long as you’re passionate, proactive, and can offer a valuable new perspective, it’s definitely possible to switch to a career path in Sweden’s burgeoning gaming industry.


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M. 2023/11/06 15:21
EX game art student here. Current Swedish gaming industry is completely spoiled by the plenty supply of free interns and cheap artists. There is basically no opening for junior positions for artists and the salary is ridiculously low. And what game companies usually mean by entry level positions is at least 2 years of INDUSTRY experience. Good luck with finding an job after you graduated from a gaming program. It was probably booming before, but definitely not now, not for artists

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