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Preview: Nordic Game 2010

Jacob Riis unveils the thinking behind this year's popular and influential European event

Nordic Game is one of the key industry events on the calendar, and this year the conference is moving to a new, earlier date of April 27-30 - as well as taking in a range of new events and activities.

Here, conference director Jacob Riis explains more about the aims of this year's conference and the specific topics that will be addressed in the keynote sessions. More information on Nordic Game 2010 - including the opportunity to compile a session schedule and arrange meeting with other delegates - is available on our special event page.

Q: What are the plans for this year's Nordic Game?

Jacob Riis: We've actually got huge plans this year, on many levels. First of all we're changing the venue from the place we've been at in the previous six years - because it closed down - but we've actually found a much nicer place within Malmo.

We're doing Nordic Game within Slagthuset, which is an old butchery - a really interesting, historical venue with a lot of beautiful indoor decorations... it's a must-see place in Sweden.

We still have the main conference on April 28-29, but we've sprinkled it with a string of different events. We start off on the 27th with our executive summit, our location-based summit and - as a new thing - the Nordic Game indie night.

I'm particularly proud of that, because I think we need to put more focus on the indie scene, to support it more - we can see on the global scale that Nordic indie developers are really moving forwards, with IGF winners this year and last year. So we're doing an indie night, where we gather the best Nordic indie developers and they show their games.

It's a night open to the public as well, so people can try them out - and at the same time we'll be talking to the developers about other developers' games as well. I hope we'll create a kind of loose atmosphere that'll be really interesting for the public, as well as the established delegates and speakers to come and experience.

Q: And what about the conference itself?

Jacob Riis: Well, this year we have two major themes. The first one is entrepreneurship - we have an advisory board, and talk to the various developer organisations regarding the exact content of the conference, and it seems there's a big need right now for the up-and-coming, smaller game developers to be more aware of the business side of making games.

We have a lot of great ideas and creativity, but now is a really good time to start focusing on actually having a business, and trying to exploit all of the new markets that have appeared.

So we do that by having a great opening keynote from Kristian Segerstrale (Playfish CEO) - he's really interesting to listen to, and a great guy as well. That will then be followed by a string of panels on things like financing, that focus on the entrepreneur side.

Then on the other hand we've got a theme that will touch on the subject of media convergence - in the Nordic countries the movie industries are getting really interested in the games industry, and we want to bring them closer, so we can all start to talk.

We have Guillaume de Fondaumiere from Quantic Dream - makers of Heavy Rain - and also a design keynote from Remedy's art director... Alan Wake is out this month, and it's a perfect opportunity for us to put the spotlight on the Nordic scene at its finest. But also, the game itself has a very strong connection to movies in terms of the narrative.

Q: And what about the other usual suspects - business, mobile, and so on?

Jacob Riis: Besides that, yes, we have all of the other areas covered as well - design workshops, business development, tools, and all the traditional areas. Plus there are the social and networking elements that are so important for our conference.

We've teamed up with you guys - the strongest trade media in the industry today [smiles] - for the online meeting booking system this year, which I personally see as a really great opportunity. What we need is to make the different parts of the Nordic games industry come together - but we also need them to do business with each other, and their partners from around the world.

So this will strengthen the conference on the business and networking side - and we'll of course support that with the annual Nordic Game Awards, the delegate dinner, the huge party, and so on.

And finally, on the last day of the conference - April 30 - we're moving the exhibition from the conference over the bridge to Copenhagen, Denmark. We're partnering with a consumer event there called Cop3nhag3n Robot, and we'll use that to showcase to people what the Nordic games industry is all about.

And then we'll invite all of the conference delegates to come and experience the Nordic hotspot of game development from the other side of the bridge - kind of a neat way of ending the more serious side of things. Copenhagen's a great place to chill out after the conference!

Jacob Riis is conference director for Nordic Game. Interview by Phil Elliott.

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