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Minister launches first Danish gaming institute: More people will be able to game without becoming addicted.

DR-Inland in Denmark

Thursday, May 30, 2024 • 6:53 AM UTC - in Denmark

When children sit with their heads buried in screens to build fictional worlds or solve intricate puzzles, it is often foreign-developed games that light up the screen. But Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt (M) wants to change that. He is launching a new game institute today, the first of its kind in Europe.

The institute's goal is to support Danish game developers and give a boost to the Danish game industry. This means that games that do not harm children and young people will receive a boost, the minister believes.

"I hope that the game institute will be instrumental in financing the start-up of new projects without addictive algorithms," says Jakob Engel-Schmidt.

According to new figures from the Media Council for Children and Young People, while digital games play a significant role in the daily lives of 9-15-year-olds, only two percent of the games they play are Danish.

Read also: Danish games are among the best ever: 'It's both incredibly annoying and incredibly delicious at the same time' ()

- The fact that children are sitting on a platform with addictive algorithms, pornographic content, and unchecked violence, while we have a Danish innovative game industry that can compete on a global scale, sounds good from the minister.

The simple 2D Danish game 'Limbo,' which was released in 2010, has been hailed as one of the best games ever. In the game, the little boy encounters numerous frightening obstacles - including a giant spider. The new Danish game institute will promote Danish games. (© Playdead)


The game institute cannot only stop addiction alone


Culture Ministry has allocated a total of 78.8 million kroner to the institute over the next three years.

Even though it is not a large sum compared to the budgets of large American game companies, the money means a lot.

At least if you want to create less addictive content, says Rune Nielsen, who is a lecturer in game psychology at IT University of Copenhagen.

Normally, the companies that invest in a game want to make as much money out of it as possible. To achieve this, it makes sense to get players to spend both large amounts of time and money on their games.

- So if the investment comes from the Culture Ministry instead, it means a completely different benchmark that the games have to live up to, says Rune Nielsen.

He points out that Danish games, like Danish films, are world-renowned for their high quality. Danish game developers also do things differently than some large American and Chinese game providers.

- They are a bit more raw and offer experiences that are challenging and educational or have a quality that is not just digital fast food, says he.

Søren Lundgaard is not only the chairman of the board of the game industry association Games Denmark but also the managing director of Danish Ghost Ship Games.

At the game industry association Games Denmark, best-board member Søren Lundgaard, who is also the managing director of Danish Ghost Ship Games, is pleased with the news of the game institute, which he believes is a good start for the game industry at home.

But he does not believe that Danish game developers can stand alone with the minister's ambition to promote games that do not create addiction among the youngest.

- I think we're doing well in Denmark on this front and think positively that we can go first. But it doesn't help if we don't also look at the rules more globally, says Søren Lundgaard, who believes that all game developers should have the same game rules.


It should be safe for children to play in Danish


Some of the games that top the list among 9-15-year-olds are foreign Roblox and Fortnite, which have been criticized for introducing sexually explicit content, casino elements, and addictive algorithms into children's heads ().

And even though Danish games, according to Rune Nielsen, have proven that they can compete on a global scale, he does not believe that it is enough just to create alternatives if we want to protect players better.

Read also: Gambling is disguised as gaming: Children risk becoming gamblers from a young age ()

- We must also legislate about all products that are offered, says Rune Nielsen.

Even though he acknowledges that Danish games are strong, there is still a long way to go if Danish games are to make up more than the two percent they currently represent among Danish children's games.

But Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt is optimistic that Danish games can gain more ground.

How can the new Danish game institute compete with large game companies without being addictive?

- You can certainly create a decent product without it hooking people in algorithms and forcing them to come back, says the culture minister.

- But if I am to use taxpayers' money to develop new innovative Danish games, it should be in a way that parents can feel safe about, says the minister.

The new Danish game institute has been named Nimbi GameLab. The name refers to one of the first Danish digital games from 1963.

In the video, Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt criticizes the game platform Roblox for, among other things, exposing children to pornography. Roblox Corporation has not responded to our request for an interview.

Warning: This article was translated by a Large Language Model, in case of doubt, you can always visit the original source.