Sweden launches campaign to spread peace, love and democracy - through videogames

Country says gamers have had enough of the male-dominated violence of Battlefield, until now its most famous gaming export

The Swedish government has launched an initiative which it claims will spread values of democracy and creativity throughout the world – via the medium of video games.

Under the banner of Democreativity (a word-merge, apparently), a taskforce invited suggestions from around the world on the topic of “the most unlikely game ever made”.

It seems the government wants to get away from the country’s video-gaming staples of male-dominated violence and competition – Sweden’s most successful export so far in the industry has been the Battlefield franchise.

Instead, the joint team from VisitSweden, the Swedish Institute and Business Sweden claim the gaming community really want an experience where there are no winners and losers – one where alliances, collaboration and exploration are what count.

And according to Democreativity, gamers no longer want traditional male characters or female characters – they would prefer to play as an “indefinable”, non-gender entity like an emoticon or a cursor.

Among the most highly-promoted suggestions posted on the website were for games where “you win by helping others win”, by “turning haters into lovers” and one where you play in “a normal-sized house, but you play as something tiny, like a mouse”.

The crowd-sourced ideas have been boiled down to a brief which, with the help of a team of Swedish developers, will be turned into the new - and maybe even commercially viable - game of the future.

The bizarre initiative has been accompanied by an even-more-bizarre video, which seems to suggest Sweden is the one place in the world where democracy, creativity and video games can come together for the benefit of mankind.

Ellinor Irving, a spokesperson for Democreativity, told The Independent that more than 500 people from 126 countries had submitted their ideas for the game.

“We have made a comparison between their suggestions and the current top 100 best-selling games and, even though people haven’t explicitly written it, the suggestions are quite far from games like Grand Theft Auto (GTA) or Battlefield,” she said.

“Together with an advisory board and representatives from the gaming industry, we boiled down the suggestions to two trends. There were lots of ideas where the end goal is not to win or beat an opponent but to collaborate, make alliances, and explore new areas.

The group said gamers wanted an experience where 'you win by helping others win' The group said gamers wanted an experience where 'you win by helping others win' “And though we thought we would get lots of suggestions about greater female representation, it didn’t seem important to gamers. It seems like they are leapfrogging the gender issue altogether and instead want to see characters that are not people at all but undefined objects.”

Democreativity said 10 per cent of its gamers had an idea that involved no winners or losers at the end – compared to the 2 per cent of top 100 games where this is the case now.

And the group said more than 15 per cent had proposed games with “completely new types of characters”, in contrast to more than half of all top-selling games that have a male human protagonist.

In recent years, Swedish developers have been credited with producing the hugely successful international gaming hits Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft – and it seems the government now wants in on the act.

Democreativity will produce a game that is far removed from the traditional 'kill or be killed' attitude of classic titles like Pacman Democreativity will produce a game that is far removed from the traditional 'kill or be killed' attitude of classic titles like Pacman “In the beginning it [Democreativity] was a way of showing Sweden’s long history of this kind of democracy, and a way of applying that to gaming context,” Ms Irving said.

“This is a pilot project really, phase one, where it’s more about being open to the world and other cultures and taking in all the good ideas out there. But maybe in the future if something good came out of it...”

Now that the suggestion phase is over, the games are being developed by Democreativity in collaboration with a team at a Swedish university. Their initial efforts will be presented to the public in late May or early June.

Their brief has also been made public – so if you think you could do better, you can submit your own game to the project website here. And you can also find the full list of gamers' suggestions - which are universally brilliant.

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