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How law, history and an unfortunate association with Nazis influenced Swedish game development

Following a positive reaction to Ubisoft's next-gen title The Division at E3 earlier in the year, Massive Entertainment managing director David Polfeldt took it upon himself to look into why such a high number of developers based in Sweden find success in an international market.

Speaking on the subject of Swedish development culture at today's DICE Europe event in London, Polfeldt points to historical, traditional and legal aspects specific to the country as influencing the current state of games development in Sweden.

Polfeldt describes its result as a combination of functional pragmatism and storytelling. The country's long history of storytelling from its Viking days and sagas from Iceland are embedded in its culture, as is a long tradition of creating innovations based on practical needs.

However, it has also been influenced by more international sources of Entertainment, he says. Swedish content creators were "desperate" to attach themselves to Anglo-Saxon culture following what Polfeldt described as the country's open association with the Nazis in the past. This has led to an enormous influx of American culture, including films, music and architecture.

Where the country stands apart in the industry is how the government treats its technical and game development sectors following a program introduced decades ago that subsidised PCs to help them enter Swedish homes early on. Now, law guarantees it is difficult for studio owners to allow a "crunch" culture to manifest, allowing people to take parental leave of up to a year, and a mandatory two weeks holiday in June. As a result, he says, there is no designer burn out.

Beyond Ubisoft Massive, Sweden is home to a large number of successful game studios including Avalanche Studios, EA Digital Illusions CE, Paradoc Interactive and Starbreeze Studios.

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