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090902: Icelandic organisation announced
The Federation of Icelandic Industries, along with representatives from several Icelandic videogame companies, recently organized a series of workshop meetings in order to forge a common vision for the future of the Icelandic gaming industry. As a result, a new organization, IGI (Icelandic Gaming Industry), will pursue common policies and prospects for the videogame industry in Iceland.
A dynamic and diverse export industry
The rapid growth of the domestic gaming industry in Iceland over the past few years stands in contrast to the economic downturn in other sectors. Shared revenue is expected to exceed 10 billion ISK in 2009; at least ten companies are now a part of the industry; and dozens of people are needed to fill new jobs over coming months.
The gaming culture is here to stay, and computer games can be applied to improve various aspects of life, for example in the education and health sectors. Even in an economic depression, gaming culture has opportunity to grow; people who lose their jobs and financial security need among other things to find inexpensive and fun avenues for stress relief, which might additionally bring educational value, mental health benefits and access to new social and professional networks.
IGI is focused on creating an environment that sustains and nurtures future growth, with a special focus on the next five years. The goal by 2013 is to see a doubling or tripling of both companies and employees.
It takes all sorts
The current industry leaders in Iceland are CCP, maker of EVE Online; Betware, a middleware provider for lotteries and gaming platforms; and Gogogic, a maker of online and mobile games.
Moreover, there are a variety of interesting startups on the horizon. For example, MindGames is using players' brainwaves as input in order to improve their focus or relaxation through gameplay. Sauma Technologies, on the other hand, is a Finnish gaming company that has opened up a subsidiary office in Iceland with the intent to bolster its online development efforts. Additionally, local universities are offering courses of study and research that are directly tied to game development, production, artificial intelligence and computer graphics. This budding educational and professional framework is laying the foundation for a competitive and innovative game industry in the coming years.
What comes next?
Although the gaming industry in Iceland is off to a promising beginning, an environment must be created which actively supports and promotes game company entrepreneurship. For example, innovation needs further support in the form of refunds for research and development costs. Entrepreneurs, angel investors and investment funds need additional incentives like tax breaks to bring in much-needed capital. More funds, grants and awards systems need to be made available to help Icelandic companies with promotion and marketing. To their credit, the current government is fully aware of the need and is working towards solving some of these issues.
Furthermore, ties between the universities and industry need to be strengthened even further, for instance by supporting startups within the walls of research departments and innovation centers.
As interest in games grows within the fields of education and health, relevant government agencies must also be ready to embrace domestic efforts to bring innovation into these fields – especially if they show promise when it comes to optimization, cost and quality of life.
Icelandic Gaming Industry
The members of IGI know the importance of having a clear and common vision for the future, which must in turn be supported by concrete actions. IGI will be part of the Federation of Icelandic Industries, and will receive the benefit of the Federation's experience, support and facilities. IGI will also be responsible for actively managing foreign relationships which tie into the industry as a whole.
The IGI organization will be formally founded on September 25th, 2009. For more information, visit www.igi.is .
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