The gaming industry was developed as a response to the need for economic renewal and development of the technology industries. The strategy followed was to start to run one of the very first game educational programmes in Finland in 2006. After some testing and experience a full time game development studies started in 2009. In parallel to the educational measures, the strategy included founding KAJAK Games, a co-op to serve as the very first “employer” and platform to practice the different disciplines of game development. Thus, students started their professional life already with a portfolio of finished and published games when they graduated. This startegy aimed at facilitating the transition from student to entrepreneurial status. However, the new gaming businesses soon came across with two new types of challenges, equally important for the success of the ventures: financing & continuous development of the gaming competences of the entrepreneurs. Then the Kavio cluster programme, undertook to support marketing, investment meetings, bootcamps and an incubator programme.
Image: The structure of the gaming cluster and the stakeholders involved.
Some short term concrete outcomes:
- Education: Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK): gaming courses (2006) to gaming degree (2008); further specialisation in game development and e-sports business.
- Business & cluster development, Kainuun Etu (KE): 30 gaming SMEs; 15 studios, 160 - 200 jobs; €5,000,000.00 in investments; €2,000,000.00 in subcontracting; €10,000,000.00 in turnover (2017). Marketing, investment meetings, bootcamps, incubator programme, building of community feeling.
- Gaming as an industry integrated into the regional policy priorities.
The challenge of the critical mass still remains even though the gaming industry has been gaining stronger background in the region.