Let's Gro 2019: the Groningen game industry

Let's Gro

Let’s Gro, the annual festival about the future of the city and region, collects ideas, innovations and initiatives in Groningen and gives them an opportunity to shine and to grow . On Thursday, the Game Bakery hosted an exposition to showcase the different types of games made in Groningen, along with a panel discussion about the future of the industry.

The Game Bakery is a Groningen based cooperative, consisting of game developers and other creative pioneers working on game related projects. The panel included Merel van der Wees (co-founder Studio Bleep), Tony Fial (co-founder Sfinx Games), Gerben Grave (founder Multiverse Narratives) and Thomas Jager (game producer and project manager).


Games from Groningen

“There’s a difference in mentality between Groningen and the Randstad area”, says Studio Bleep co-founder Merel van der Wees. “We develop different types of games and there’s also a great connection between the industry here and colleges like Hanze, Noorderpoort and Alfa.” Her company recently developed StoryWall, an AR experience to reduce stress in young hospital patients. The application is currently being used at the ISALA hospital in Zwolle. 

Sfinx Games co-founder Tony Fial agrees: “There’s an emphasis on serious gaming. We developed a game to help train doctors in doing echographies for example.” “The stereotypical view of games is Triple A entertainment games from major studios like EA or Ubisoft and that you need to be a hardcore gamer to develop games. But there’s lots of different directions, new applications and new audiences for gaming these days”, Merel adds.


Five years from now

What will the industry look like in the near future? “Hopefully, bigger entertainment companies will get a foothold here in Groningen”, Gerben Grave says. “Location is no longer that important and there’s a lot of new ways you can collaborate with bigger companies and studios. Apple sometimes features games from Dutch developers, so you could say we could do the same for Groningen.”

“I think we have the skills, talent and opportunities in Groningen to grow as an industry”, Merel says. “But the business part and knowhow is something that is sometimes lacking, so we’ll also need to focus on improving the entrepreneurial and economic foundation of the industry here. It’s a creative industry, with creative people, but we could also really use people who understand the business side and work together.”