Game localization and student exchanges: The University of Skövde takes on China

BUPT presentation

During Game Hub Scandinavia’s recent visit to China, the University of Skövde discussed future academic exchange options with top universities in Shanghai and Beijing and also met with game developers to learn more about a key research area: game localization.

By Associate Professor Per Backlund and Game Researcher Marcus Toftedahl from the University of Skövde

A delegation of seven people from the University of Skövde, The Game Incubator, Game Hub Denmark, The Animation Workshop and PocApp Studios visited game studios, producers, publishers and universities in Shanghai and Beijing. The University of Skövde was represented by Per Backlund, Marcus Toftedahl and Jianguo Ding who had a particular interest in forming connections with Chinese universities and game developers.

One of the main reasons for the university’s interest in the Chinese game market is our ongoing research on game localization. The game market in China has grown significantly during the recent years and today it is one of the largest markets, both in terms of consumers and developers. The mobile game market is particularly big, surpassing both the US and Japan in terms of active users and revenue.

Due to differences in language, culture and technical infrastructure it is quite difficult for Western developers to release their games in China, and it is even more difficult to become successful. Our trip to China was a step towards a more thorough understanding of the mechanisms and prerequisites regarding the Chinese game market. In our meetings with game developers and publishers, we not only learned about the game market; we also shared our knowledge about the Scandinavian and Western game development scene with the intention to build lasting relationships between East and West.

Rhythm Doctor at indienova
Trying out the game Rhythm Doctor, which has undergone the game localization services of indienova

Visiting Shanghai and Beijing’s top universities

In Shanghai, we met with representatives from the Shanghai University. This is a very interesting contact as they have a game development study program in cooperation with the Vancouver Film School. They are educating students for the growing market of game development in China. It is interesting to see how they work together with an international partner to meet the need for game developers in what is now the biggest market in the world for mobile games (with a revenue  of more than $10 billion in 2016 and growing).

Because the University of Skövde has a strong focus on game development, we are very interested in what happens on all international markets. We have made some promising contacts with the University of Shanghai and our intention is to continue to build the relationship.

The University of Skövde is also interested in international students. Already in 2016, we had students coming from China to study at our master programs in game development. We aim to continue this influx of students and hence we visited three top universities in Beijing to inform them about our study programs and research and meet with colleagues and students.

Around 30 students had gathered to learn more about the game research done at the University of Skövde

We gave a presentation at Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications (BUPT) to some 30 students interested in game development. The lecture was well received and we had some very stimulating discussions with the students.

We also revisited the University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB) to meet with colleagues and former exchange students. We had two exchange students from USTB at the Serious Games master program during fall 2016. The exchange was very successful and the students from USTB were very enthusiastic about their stay in Sweden.

It is encouraging to us to notice that they found the whole environment – from education to research and business – very inspiring, which is exactly in line with what we are trying to build here. Yet again, we had very interesting discussions about the potential for future cooperation.

Per Backlund was also invited to become the co-supervisor of a PhD student from USTB who wishes to focus her studies on serious games. This is a very good way to create a long term relationship between the two universities, and we are very excited to see how the PhD project will unfold in the future. Finally, we visited the Communication University of China (CUC) to discuss future cooperation. We hope to accept exchange students from CUC in 2018.

Facilitating internships in China

Even though the academic exchange program is of great interest to the University of Skövde, we also have a strong interest in creating connections with Chinese game developers for future cooperation, including research studies and student visits.

During spring 2017, two students from the University of Skövde spent two months in Shanghai interning at Chinese game developers to learn more about the Chinese game market and development environments. During our visit in Shanghai, we met with Stina Arvidsson Rådestig and Lolo Lin who told us about their stay. They reported that the trip has been a very rewarding learning experience but one riddled with many challenges pertaining to cultural and language barriers.

However, these experiences are very valuable to anyone who wishes to work in a global industry.

Games are truly international products and gaining knowledge on how to deal with them on a global scale is of great value to the individual students as well as to the Scandinavian game industry in general. Scandinavian games are being played all over the world and keeping an open mind and an interest in globalization is of great benefit to the industry.

We will continue to offer students the possibility to visit Chinese game studies throughout the Game Hub Scandinavia project in order to build a persistent infrastructure for such exchange.

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