What can we learn about collaboration from the success of the Finnish gaming ecosystem?

7.4.2021/Text: Ghita Wallin

Ghita Wallin

The Finnish gaming industry is a global superpower. Its collaboration, growth mindset and pay it forward culture have also laid the foundation for the student-driven startup ecosystem in Finland including Slush. Almost three decades of success makes the Finnish gaming industry a stellar example of an ecosystem based on collaboration and trust.

Business ecosystems can emerge from reciprocal social relationships

My interviews of CEOs and other influential individuals in the Finnish gaming sector have offered the foundation for a new typology of business ecosystems. I have shown that one can differentiate between ecosystems that emerge based on a transactional logic, e.g. to establish a platform or co-innovate, and ecosystems that revolve around a strong community providing trustful relationships to offer social and business support for the members. The Finnish gaming industry is an example of a community-driven ecosystem that I call an organic ecosystem.

Community-driven ecosystems can be purposefully created and nurtured

The Finnish ecosystem trusts that success breeds success. Instead of competing against each other head to head, collaboration has been seen as a way to mitigate the risks relating to the volatility of the industry since its inception. Even though the camaraderie and technical superiority of the early demoscene enthusiasts probably may not be easily recreated in another context, these learnings can also be adopted by companies invovled in other ecosystems.

The people interviewed truly enjoy their work and the challenges it brings. Many have spent their entire career in the industry, and most did not even consider leaving it. The deep enjoyment in what they do, the diversity in the success, and the uncertain nature of the business also contribute to the flourishing of the industry.

Collaboration as an enabler

The demoscene created a habit of openly sharing challenges and learnings. Even today, collaboration mostly takes place informally between individuals opposed to formalized organizational settings. On top of that several associations, like Neogames and IGDA, support and nurture the knowledge dissemination within the ecosystem.

In the Finnish gaming industry informality and seeing money as an enabler, opposed to an outcome, are key success factors. Still, external funding, including financial support from Business Finland and Nokia, was important to legitimize the industry.

The collaborative spirit has resulted in both individuals and firms being able to build and leverage dynamic capabilities on the ecosystem level. This enables gaming companies to better adapt to changes and leverage new opportunities. A diversity in firms and games being developed allows the Finnish gaming ecosystem to try out different things and quickly learn together what works and what does not. The upside of this type of behavior seems to balance out the possible downside related to someone exploiting the information openly communicated in the network.

My hope is to further explore the intricacies behind the Finnish gaming miracle in order to possibly transfer some of its best practices to other fields. I want to thank TES for supporting me in doing so!

 

Ghita Wallin is a PhD Candidate in Aalto University School of Science and Technology. In the picture you can see her working with her supervisors Professors Annaleena Heikkilä and Esa Saarinen.

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What can we learn about collaboration from the success of the Finnish gaming ecosystem? The Finnish gaming industry is a global superpower. Its collaboration, growth mindset and pay it forward culture have also laid the foundation for the student-driven startup ecosystem in Finland including Slush. Almost three decades of success makes the Finnish gaming industry … Jatka artikkeliin What can we learn about collaboration from the success of the Finnish gaming ecosystem?