August 30, 2019

FIVE FROM FINLAND: Games

gamers
These Finnish companies offer different ways to play the waiting game.
Julia Bushueva/Adobe

Finland is synonymous with its thriving games scene, and there’s no lack of both entertaining and educational games for all ages. Give this quintet a try.

As the COVID-19 outbreak pushes more and more people to the solitude of the home, a lot of entertainment options are temporarily out of our reach. But thanks to games, we can enjoy this housebound time and even use it to our advantage.

Have a look at what Finnish game studios and publishers have to offer to game-loving kids and adults alike.

SyraWise

The use of technology and gamification is rapidly increasing in education. With its core product, Rescuebusters, the educational games company is hoping to teach children basic safety skills that they will need throughout their lives.

The idea behind the game was developed by co-founder Jussi Rautio, a firefighter and emergency medical technician by training. He found it important to let children practice various emergency situations in a fun yet efficient way.

“If you think of a lot of popular games, they are about fighting, killing or smashing cars,” noted co-founder and CEO Markus Syrjänen. “We wanted to make something that does the opposite and teaches how to save lives.”

Koukoi Games

You might have heard of Om Nom, a cute little monster that became worldwide famous for his appearance in Cut the Rope games as well as its own animated TV series, Om Nom Stories.

Now the popular character is back as the Oulu-based mobile games studio recently announced the global release of the new Om Nom: Run game developed in cooperation with ZeptoLab Green, a business unit of ZeptoLab UK. The endless runner is said to be suitable for players of all ages who are asked to help Om Nom and his friends to run through city streets, forests and more.

“Om Nom: Run is a vital part of our studio’s new game IP-focused strategy and we are thrilled to be able to release this game together with ZeptoLab,” revealed CEO Antti Kananen. “We have great expectations for the future.”

Hatch Entertainment

Finding child-friendly and parent-approved games might be a long and challenging process. However, this Espoo-based sister company of Rovio Entertainment has an exciting solution. Its Hatch Kids platform offers a growing number of games for young curious minds.

Delivered by the world’s top publishers, all the games on this app are guaranteed to be safe for children aged two to eight and to encourage their imagination and creativity while teaching valuable skills. Moreover, parents are welcomed to join in the fun.

“Of course, games will teach you logic and dexterity, but high-quality children’s games also support other important skills such as emotional intelligence and creative problem solving,” the company assured. “Together with our partner, UNESCO, we strive to promote learning through play.”

Playvation

In an endearing about-face to the globe-conquering antics of Marvel and DC, ask a random group of Finns who are their favourite comic book characters and you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear ‘the Moomins’ from some, if not all of them. These same folks would then be able to tell you why, in a variety of languages – such is the enthusiasm here for expressing yourself in different tongues.

This Espoo-based company brings together these two Finnish passions, helping children to learn a foreign language with the gently gamified help of the Moomins. Playvation was founded on the belief that digital technologies will revolutionise language learning and the realisation that most of the available digital solutions are not rooted in pedagogy.

“The Moomins have a supporting role in the service: the characters promote learning and join children on their journeys,” explained CEO Anu Guttorm. “The Moomins’ values include courageousness, equality and appreciation of nature. These are the kinds of values that are needed today around the globe.”

Round Zero

You finally got a great game on your hands, but are you unsure whether it will sink or swim on the market? Or, worse still, are you worried that its path to launch may be obstructed by the prejudices of the publisher? These Finns let the people decide. The thumbs-up or -down is given by hundreds of live users who share their experience of the game, offering the developers the opportunity to tweak their ideas.

The evaluating party is not made up of just anybody, mind you. They are selected from the tens of millions of active users of Hill Climb Racing, a massively popular mobile game series developed by Fingersoft, the Oulu-based parent company of Round Zero.

“We have no gatekeepers making decisions,” said Daniel Rantala, now Director of Business Development at Fingersoft. “Every game developer will get the same opportunity regardless of how good or bad their game is in our opinion.”

Originally published in August 2019

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