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Finland’s remarkable contribution to gaming

Here, we look at some of the most important games to have been developed in Finland.

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Image: Rovio

Think of Finland and you probably conjure up images of cold weather, hot saunas, great seafood, and stunning scenery. Video games might not be the first mental association, but perhaps they should be. Scandinavia has become a tech hotspot over recent years. While the biggest tech companies might be based in Sweden, Finland’s contribution to gaming is one that goes back further than you might think. Here, we look at some of the most important games to have been developed in Finland.

Chesmac

If you could have an old Finnish Markka for every offer claiming to be the “first video game” you’d have more than enough money for dinner in one of Helsinki’s top restaurants. Chesmac, though, has as good a claim to the title as any and was certainly the first to come out of Finland. This chess simulator was developed for the Telmac 1800 in the late 1970s. It looks quaint today when compared with the realism of FIFA or the interactive nature of a live casino game at Finland’s Boost Casino, but that misses the point and is a little like comparing a Ford Model T with a Tesla. 

Snake

Just as pioneering and even more famous, Snake brought mobile gaming to the masses. It wasn’t the first mobile game – that honor goes to a mobile version of Tetris. However, when Finnish software engineer Taneli Armanto programmed Snake for the 1997 Nokia, it effectively launched the mobile gaming phenomenon. Like Chesmac, it is a timeless classic, and you can still find yourself hopelessly addicted to a quick game of Snake more than 20 years later. 

Max Payne

Today, movie-quality cinematography and storytelling are part and parcel of the best video games. 20 years ago, the concept was unheard of – until Max Payne came along and changed our perspectives forever. Gamers were enthralled by the gritty, almost film noir style of the game, and the story was every bit as important as the gameplay. It put Espoo-based developer Remedy Games firmly on the map and brought us one of the first “virtual stars” in Sam Lake, who provided the face and persona of Max Payne

Angry Birds

Still not convinced that Finland should be recognized as a big hitter in gaming? Perhaps this 2009 entry will persuade you. The game has been downloaded almost inconceivable 4.5 billion times over the past 10 years. Long before then, though, this game had made its mark by effectively taking mobile gaming to the next level beyond the era of Snake and Tetris as we entered the smartphone age.  

Clash of Clans

Massive online multiplayer games that involve working together to build and defend a community are everywhere these days. Back in 2012, however, nobody had ever seen anything quite like Clash of Clans, and it swiftly shot to the top of the download charts. It made overnight millionaires of its Finnish developers at Helsinki-based Supercell, and it also changed the way we play games, heralding a new era of mobile-based social gaming. 

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