Denmark faces dev skills shortage

Microsoft exec presents grim outlook at conference, points to XNA as potential workaround to future where pool of qualified developers falls short of game industry needs.

COPENHAGEN--The future of games development in Denmark, and the national IT industry as a whole, could be under threat within five years because not enough high school students are opting for an appropriate level of high-level mathematics courses. This year only 10,000 students will study the subject at a sufficiently high enough level to allow them to pursue IT-related degrees at the university level. It is estimated that the figure required to maintain current levels of growth in the game industry should be nearer 35,000.

These concerns were raised by Soren Hebsgaard, manager of developer and platform strategy at Microsoft Denmark who spoke at a conference organised by CCP Games, the creators of EVE Online. The event, attended by journalists from around Europe, looked at the subject of narrative worlds and how different types of massively multiplayer online games approach the topic.

Hebsgaard went on to describe his notion of "gaming 2.0," which aligns the game industry with current ideas around "Web 2.0" and the trend that sees more user-generated content springing up not just across the Internet, but also within multiplayer online worlds. Linking the possibility of the "democratisation" of games development with the recent launch of Microsoft's XNA platform, Hebsgaard is hopeful that where the industry is failing to attract high school students, XNA might enthuse a new generation of bedroom programmers to spring up.

Also speaking at the event was Mark Wallace, journalist and 3pointD.com blogger. He compared how gamers relate to avatars in MMOGs as opposed to the way they do in more linear games, and listed four ingredients in a "primordial soup that gives way to these beings."

These were: complexity and the resulting breadth of choice for a player, agency and a significance to a player's actions, a sense of conflict, and critical mass of population. He went on to compare the social dynamics of small and large virtual worlds to those found in villages and cities in real life, and made the point that different-size worlds will tend to operate in significantly different ways.

Finally, the conference heard from EVE Online's senior producer, Nathan Richardsson, who explained some of the reasoning behind the game's development choices. He pointed out the differences between two approaches--the theme park approach, which is easy to access and has mass appeal, and the playground approach, which is nonlinear and has realism and depth.

His belief was that EVE Online contained around 80 percent playground and 20 percent theme park environments, and stated that while the game's player-versus-player content probably lost the game subscribers, it was crucial to the concept of risk in the game. In EVE Online there are high penalties for player "death," ranging from the loss of ships and equipment to the loss of skill points that have built up over time, although there are ways to insure yourself against such a loss.

The event ended with a new trailer showing more details from the Revelations expansion, and some indication of the graphical upgrades that players might expect from it.

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13 comments
uberjannie
uberjannie

its lovely to be norwegian in denmark :)

ph471
ph471

A few years back, a new bill was passed to completely reform the structure of the danish high-school system. The emphasis was on greater possibility to choose the classes to attend to. My point is that this is _not_ caused by the general lack of qualified workers in Denmark, but is the direct product of a new goverment policy. The Danish Universities and the IT-Industry have taken this to the Minister of Education, who acknowledged the problem, but action to fix it has yet to be seen. Add all this to another act, which greatly limits the motivation for studying the required math after completing high-school. Brace for impact: We will face some really tight years.

Pfc_Meanstreet
Pfc_Meanstreet

Welll most fields lack workers since our economy is smoking hot these days, this is nothing new... Luckily we can alway bring people in from the rest of the EU or if need be the states... I'm more than sure that a lot of EA personal would like some proper wages, paid overtime and work rules that are respected :)

Cloud737
Cloud737

Lol, maybe all the German devs would relocate to Denmark when Germany bans violent games. That way, Denmark won`t have dev shortages.

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

I don't think Denmark is the only country which doesn't have enough game developers. There are a lot of countries in this situation.

Nico4
Nico4

Hope more people will go into game developing in Denmark. Gaming is popular in Denmark right now.

greenwiz
greenwiz

Granted you need math to do 3D, but math is not everything. Less math more programming and design.

ConManWithGun
ConManWithGun

I wish I could make games, then id move to denmark

s0uper
s0uper

MasterEmil, no one said anything about Danes being unable to make games. It's just a shortage of interest in high-level mathematics courses (that would lead to, perhaps, game development), right? No need to get all worked up about it :)

MasterEmil
MasterEmil

Nothing is wrong in Denmark. Dont you dare say Denmark cant make games. Who made Hitman? Denmark did. If us danes make any good games some bigger company will buy the rigts anyway so whats the problem? America and the East should be the ones making games. And we are only 5mil in Denmark.

Zer0mancer
Zer0mancer

pay me enough and i'll go make games in Denmark

greenwiz
greenwiz

It'll be easier to get a job then. Yeah for me... I'm a 3rd semester IT engineer.

Cool-AN
Cool-AN

Why must my country be behind in gaming? Anyway, this isn't exclusive to the gaming industry though. A lot of professions (industry mostly) need more workers in Denmark, to the point where we hire people from Germany and some eastern European countries to come up here and work.