One major goal for the IGDA Finland in 2013 is to improve and broader our offering across Finland. Brand new IGDA Finland board is putting together a plan how to support local communities at its best and support their growth. As part of that effort we will be presenting local game development hubs on igda.fi. We'll start this series with Kouvola. Mika Lammi from Kinno - Kouvola Innovations Oy focusing on regional development, was kind enough to give an overview of the Kouvola scene.
Facts and figures, Kouvola scene in a nutshell Mika Lammi: We have 10-12 active game companies and about the same amount of indie developers at the moment. The companies employ roughly 30-40 people all put together. The scene is quite young, and thus developing rapidly - it is expected that the numbers will go up fast due to the healthy education structure we have in place. The local vocational school KSAO (Kouvolan seudun ammattiopisto) is offering both degree studies and adult education in game development and design. Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences will start offering international game design studies in 2013.
The number of student in all of the above programs will total 50 in 2013 and should double in 2014 as freshman classes are rolled in. Kouvola Innovation Oy, the local city-owned development company has several initiatives and projects in place to support game industry employment and entrepreneurship potential. Our tools include the national Protomo network of innovation incubator initiatives, amongst other projects.
Game dev companies from Kouvola
Mika Lammi: Presently the scene can be described as young, enthusiastic and rapidly growing. Liquid Flower Games made a good entry into the scene by releasing Qubeh and gaining very positive mentions in the international industry blogosphere. Another group, Blight Games, are preparing their entry and have already entered negiotiations with several interested parties.
Main factors for regional growth
Mika Lammi: The biggest factor is naturally the incredible success of Finnish companies worldwide, and the following growth of the national initiative. Secondly, our strategic choice of focusing our resources into high quality education and maintaining education-industry interfaces has already started to pay off.
Mika Lammi: Here's a handy quote from our web site: "Being a political player in the economic life of the city, the company provides services prescribed by the economic strategy, develops the economic life, creates networks of cooperation partners, and is in charge of marketing the region for economic purposes. The company focuses on the structural change of the region, the local SMEs and entrepreneurship in general, not to mention making efforts to increase the income from tourism and develop the local business environment including workforce, premises, services and infrastructure"".
The company provides services in:
- Business Services
- Location and Relocation Services
- Tourism Services
- Developing Services
I work in the development services related to creative industries, which of course includes game industries as a whole, publishing and distribution and all. What we are trying to do is to create a clear and defined path for ideas to come to light, help develop them into services and products, and guide them directly to the most potential marketplaces, regardless of the immediate geography. The mid-term big goal is to create a national game industry related education quality system, which would benefit the education system and industry companies immensely - required skills, competences and talents would find the best place both in terms of getting the best possible education and making the best possible hiring decisions, respectively.
Future? Five years from now?
Mika Lammi: We will have a healthy and vibrant game industry campus, which is structured in the way of commynity-curriculum-capital come together. By this I mean the studios, schools & students and your everyday consumer gamers working and playing together for the benefit of every party included. Also, our great geographical position right next to St.Petersburg will have it's influence in ways of having a healthy dose of international co-operation and joint projects with the Russian scene as a whole.
Must-haves when building long lasting game industry to Kouvola?
Mika Lammi: Patience, tolerance and long term vision! We do try to build things to last, and that often means taking the longer and more difficult route than some would like. The real foundation on which we all build are naturally the skilled and talented developers - without them we would have nothing at all. Therefore our most important mission is to support them both in ways of day-to-day problem solving as well as long term structural industry environment building.