Here in Norway, we’ve been lucky enough to get a Minister of Culture, Trine Skei Grande, that is interested in gaming, and technology in general. It turns out I’m even more lucky, as I got the fantastic opportunity to interview the Minister about gaming and esports.
Game development in Norway has a rumor as being a more risky job than compared to for example Sweden the last couple of years – what actions can you take for this to change?
We have a fantastic video game community in Norway, which helps inspire flourishing startups. This is a development we want to support. That’s why the government has started making a “video game strategy” where, among other things, we will look closer into the conditions for game developers. In this sense, we must get feedback from people working in the industry, and we have therefore invited every one of these to come with inputs, both in written form and during a meeting at Hamar. I am looking forward to getting excellent input from this.
My Child Lebensborn won the BAFTA award for best “Games Beyond Entertainment” – what are your thoughts about this excellent feat?
It’s a huge feat, and very well deserved! This shows the level of Norwegian game development. The smart people in Sarepta, Teknopilot and other involved companies have made a game that both engage and convey an important lesson, and it deserves a lot more attention than it has gotten.
Can coding/programming become a subject in elementary school?
When I held a speech at The Gathering, I talked about how the fighter pilots of the future are sitting in Vikingskipet. Competence related to game development and technology is already important in society, and it will only become more so. Because of this, it’s important that more learn this early on. Venstre has pressed on for coding and IT to become subjects in school. Now programming and algorithmic thinking will become a part of the math subject, which is great.
Can the Government do something to help startups within gaming? And how about indie developers?
Also here the “video game strategy” be a vital part. At the same time, this fathoms wider. That’s why the government constantly works towards an easier way towards being a gründer. In the new governing platform we agreed on how to simplify, to allow gründers to use more time creating, and less time reporting to officials.
In addition, we want a full review of all terms, which includes social rights and the right to sick leave. Which will allow for an even easier way to make startups.
Is it possible to make funds for startups? Like the EU does for research. Or perhaps make it easier for startups to find already existing funds and aids?
We will consider possible actions and ways to handle the strategy, so it’s too early to comment on that.
Where do you think Esports will be in five years?
The fact Venstre is now in the government is sort of a “revenge of the nerds”. Esports isn’t a mayfly, it’s one of the biggest sports in the world. Twitch is bigger than both Netflix and HBO. Here in Norway, Telenorligaen is shown both on VGTV and TV2 Sumo, with NRK showing the finals in Counter-Strike and NFF (Norwegian Football Association) has started their own national team in FIFA. I see no reason why this development will not continue.
How can the government help promote esports as a positive thing in Norway in the future? Is there anything you can do to help “outsiders” open their eyes for it?
I attended the Telenor and Gamer arrangement on the Esportsday last year. While there, we talked about esports as a sport, and how to build professional communities where people can develop. These happenings are very important. In addition, there’s a constant growth of subjects in high school and Folkehøgskuler (sort of community colleges, a very Scandinavian thing) where people who really want to become esports professionals can get to try it out.
Are there any plans of an official Norwegian league within Esports? Can NRK broadcast more esport in the future?
I support all that want to arrange competitions, tournaments, and leagues. Telenorligaen is so far the best attempt at making a Norwegian league for esports. It will be awesome watching the development further because a lot is happening right now. NRK will decide themselves what to broadcast and has broadcasted esports before.
Health within esports and gaming has been known as an issue, how can gamers become more active? Is there anything Venstre or the Government can do to promote healthy gaming?
As with all sports, I think esports is impossible to do on a high level without being in great shape. In addition to having a lifestyle that allows for performing over time. The government is working to help the general health within the population, but it’s still up to each and every one to address their own health and lifestyle.
Do you have any favorite games yourself? For example, Pokémon GO?
It was amazing to see how Pokémon Go engaged so many people. In parks and cities, people were out-and-about, chatting and catching Pokémons. Games like this help to spread joy and unity. In December I bought a Nintendo Switch and right now I’m playing a game called Trine. I find it difficult, but also a lot of fun!
What are your thoughts about gaming (addiction) is defined as an illness by WHO?
I am aware of the huge discussion within the academic community about “gaming addiction” being an addiction by itself.
I think that here, as in all other things in this world, the amount is the issue and that too much of the good becomes bad. In some extreme cases, we have seen that gaming destroys work- and family life. In these cases, I believe the gaming itself isn’t the issue, but other sides of a person’s life. Serious addiction is always a problem, no matter what the addiction is based on.
What will happen with streaming in Norway now that Article 13 has been approved in the EU?
My coworkers in the Ministry will start looking into the details of the compromise-text and will by Fall start working with a note for hearing about how to perform this directive within the law of copyright.
Can gaming be used when it comes to school? For example psychology in games – in which we have, among other games, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which makes a point of living with schizophrenia and psychosis?
Yeah, there’s a great amount of social work in gaming. This allows for entirely new ways to learn. We are already seeing lots of youths to excel in English, which is caused by gaming with friends across the world. Games can convey and engage people with all from maths to history, and think of the possibilities when it comes to VR!
What can the government do about loot boxes in games? Is it a possible prohibition coming up? How about loot boxes in mobile games?
The Ministry of Culture is currently working on a new gambling law. Within this, the problems with these grey areas between PC games and gambling, including loot boxes, will be addressed.
I’d like to thank Trine for her time, and I am now looking more optimistic towards the future of gaming in Norway. Here’s to hoping all plans go through, and I also want to wish the Minister good luck with the rest of Trine!