Video gaming in the Czech Republic

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The video game industry in the Czech Republic has produced numerous globally successful video games such as Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis and the subsequent ArmA series, the Mafia series, Truck Simulator series, the Samorost series and others. There were 300–400 video game developers and around 30 video game companies focusing on video game development in 2014. In 2017 it was 1,100 developers and 47 companies.[1] Video games are also considered by some experts to be the country's biggest cultural export.[2] The video game industry did not enjoy a good reputation and was unsupported by the state until 2013, when the Ministry of Industry and Trade started to seek ways to kickstart the economy. By 2014, programs were planned to support the video game industry. Another problem is a lack of video game development specialization at any university.[3][4][5][6][7]

Czech video game site Bonusweb made a Survey for the best video game developed in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The victor of the Survey is Mafia: City of Lost Heaven that received 3866 votes out of 13,143. Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis was second and Vietcong third.[8]

History[edit]

The first games were developed in Czechoslovakia during the late 1970s as part of experimentation with SM 52/11 computers. These titles lacked graphics and were not meant for wider distribution.[9] Card games were particularly popular. Card games were played through printer due to lack of displays. There were also games based on chances such as electronical version of Rock–paper–scissors. Some games were competitive such as Dělostřelba (Cannonade) in which player had to count the trajectory of his cannon shot to hit his rival. Some games were developed on universities. Some universities taught programming at the time. Games at universities included Chess and Plivátko. The first real-time game was Přistání na měsíci (Landing on the Moon). One of the first gmes meant for displays was Zombíci (Zombies). Players had to run for zombies and stay alive as long as possible.[10]

In the 1980s, the video game development in the country was part of the Svazarm clubs.[11] The most popular video game platform of the time were ZX Spectrum computers, other include Czechoslovak computers PMD 85 or less common Atari 8-bit computers.[11][12] Hobbyists could come explore computing and teach themselves programming. Games developed by members of these clubs include Hlípa and Flappy. Text adventures were very popular, accounting for more than half of the total output of Czechoslovak programmers. Czechs produced games for these platforms even in 1990s when were outdated. After 1989, the market changed, improving opportunities for programmers and gamers alike.

In 1993, the first commercially distributed Czech video game was released: an adventure game called Světák Bob, distributed by Vochozka Trading. The game was not particularly successful; however, the following year Vochozka Trading released two other adventure titles – Tajemství oslího ostrova (Donkey Island) and 7 dní a 7 nocí (Seven Days and Seven Nights). Both were developed by Pterodon and widely regarded as successes. Among the most widespread Czech DOS games was also "Vlak", a logic freeware made in 1993.

Other widely distributed games include adventures Dračí historie (1995), Gooka (1997), Horké léto (1997) and Polda (1999). Polda was followed by other four sequels. Games released in the 1990s also include real-time strategy games Paranoia and Paranoia II, and racing game Turbo Speedway. Dungeon RPG Gates of Skeldal by Napoleon Games was also very successful. Gates of Skeldal is considered to be the best Czech RPG. Vochozka Trading became Illusion Softworks in 1997, and developed its first in-house game, Lurid Land.

Bohemia Interactive booth on E3 2011

The first internationally successful Czech game was Hidden & Dangerous, a third person action game released in 1999.[13][14][15][16] In 2001 Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis by Bohemia Interactive was released. It was a worldwide bestseller.[citation needed] More notable games of this era include Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven but also Vietcong (both by Illusion Softworks).

Czech development studios such as Amanita Design, Black Element Software and Mindware Studios were established in these years. Other developers include Altar Games with its Original War and UFO series and SCS Software with 18 Wheels of Steel, but many of these companies are now defunct.

Bohemia Interactive became the most successful Czech developer with the series of ARMA games, along with Machinarium, released in 2009. The success of Bohemia Interactive is regarded as having overshadowed other independent development studios.[15][17][18]

Consumer availability[edit]

The video game market in the Czech Republic is currently growing, with a spend of 2.202 billion Czech koruna (CZK) across both the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2011.[19] The corresponding total for 2012 was 2.436 billion CZK, a growth of 10.6%.[20] Purchased video games made up one third of this amount.

The most popular genres among Czech players are action and sports games. The growth of the market is expected with next-generation consoles such as the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.[20][21]

Video game associations[edit]

Czech Games is a community of video game developers in the Czech Republic. It was established in 2001 and since then it has supported video game development beginners. It has its own phorum where developers can share its experience and show their work. The association also organizes Game Developers Session and GAMEDAY Festival.[22]

Video Game Association of the Czech and Slovak Republic exists to promote video games in the two named countries. Video game developers, publishers, importers and distributors all belong to the organization. The association also organizes the BOOOM Contest.[23]

MU Game Studies is an association composed of Masaryk University students and graduates. It aims to improve and support video game education at Czech universities.[24][25]

Education[edit]

Some Czech universities offer programs of study related to video games. These universities are Masaryk University in Brno, Charles University in Prague, University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, Czech Technical University in Prague and Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.[26]

Video game companies from the Czech Republic[edit]

Company Location Founded Type
1C Publishing EU[27][28] Prague 2002 Video game publisher
2K Czech Brno 1997 Video Game Developer
About Fun[29] Prague 2011 Mobile game developer
Alda Games[30] Brno 2013 Mobile game developer
Allodium Games[31] Prague 2007 Online game developer
Amanita Design Brno 2001 Video game developer
BeerDeer Games Prague 2011 Video game developer
Bohemia Interactive Prague 1999 Video game developer and publisher
CBE Software Brno 2010 Video game developer
Cenega Czech Prague 1988[32] Video game publisher
Centauri Production Prague 2000 Video game developer
Chaos Concept 2002 Video game developer
Cinemax Prague 1997 Video game developer and publisher
Computer Games Distribution[33] Prague 2002 Video game publisher
ConQuest Entertainment[34] Prague 1990 Video game publisher
Craneballs Studio Ostrava 2008 Video game developer
Digital Life Productions Hradec Králové 2009[35] Video game developer
Dreadlocks Ltd Prague 2011 Video game developer
eeGon Games Prague 2012 Video game developer
Electronic Arts Czech Republic[36] Prague 2001[37] Video game publisher
Fineway Studios Brno 2004[38] Video game developer
Fiolasoft Studio[39] Prague 2002 Video game developer
Flow Studio[40] Prague 2011 Video game developer
gamifi.cc[41] Brno 2007 Video game developer
Geewa Prague 2005 Mobile game developer
Grip Games Prague 2010 Video game developer and publisher
Hammerware Brno 2005 Video game developer
Hangonit Brno 2012 Video game developer
Hexage Prague 2009 Video game developer
Hyperbolic Magnetism[42] Prague 2010 Video game developer
Icarus Games[43] Brno 2011 Video game developer
inDev Brain Brno[44] 2013 Video game developer
JRC Interactive Prague[45] 1988 Video game publisher
Keen Software House Prague 2010 Video game developer
Lukáš Navrátil Games Znojmo 2013 Video game developer
Madfinger Games Brno 2010 Video game developer
McMagic Productions 2012 Video game developer
Microsoft Česká Republika[46] Prague 2006 (video game division) Video game publisher
Mingle Games[47] Prague 2012 Video game developer
Napoleon games[48] Prague 1994 Vido game developer
Playman[49] Hradec Králové 2001 Video game publisher
Rake in Grass Prague 2000 Video game developer
Running Pillow Brno 2009 Video game developer
SCS Software Prague 1997 Video game developer
Silicon Jelly Prague 2011 Video game developer
Sony Czech[50] Prague 1993 Video game Publisher
Soulbound Games Zlín 2013 Video game Developer
Trickster Arts Brno 2012 Video game developer
Vicious Mime Olomouc 2013 Video game developer
Warhorse Studios Prague 2011 Video game developer
Wube Software[51] Prague 2014 Video game developer

Defunct video game companies[edit]

Company Founded Dissolved
7FX 1999 2010
Altar Games 1997 2010
Black Element Software 2000 2010
Disney Mobile Prague Studio 2005[52] 2014[53]
Future Games 1996 2011
Mindware Studios 2002 2011
Pterodon 1997 2006
NoSense 1994 1997
Phoenix Arts 1994 1998
Plastic Reality Technologies 2000 2006
Pterodon 1998 2006
Unknown Identity 1996 2005
Vatra Games 2009 2012
Vochozka Trading 1994 2008

Appearance of the Czech Republic in video games[edit]

The country has been featured in numerous games written by Czech developers, such as Euro Truck Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Kingdom Come: Deliverance.

Command & Conquer takes place in Central Europe and some missions occur within the country's borders.[54] The country was also the inspiration for fictional countries featured in Operation Flashpoint: Resistance and ARMA 2.

In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a fictionalised uprising occurs in Prague. The city also features in a mission from Sly 2: Band of Thieves.

In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, the title character is sent to save kidnapped Czech scientist Dr. Kio Marv. One character, Smoke (real name Tomas Vrbada), in Mortal Kombat is also Czech.

As part of Czechoslovakia[edit]

There are some missions in Contract JACK that are set in Czechoslovakia. The former state also appears in the game Hidden & Dangerous.

World of Tanks released Pilsen map in December 2015. Ths update also features Czechoslovak Tanks.[55]

Video game events in the Czech Republic[edit]

Game Developers Session is a game development conference that has been held annually since 2003. Video Game Culture figures including Developers have Presentation there about Video Gaming and players can meet Video Game developers for Chat about their project. They can also sometimes try video games that are in development.

Game Access is a game development conference that has been first held in Brno in 2010. Since 2016, Game Access is held annually. It includes speeches of developers from all around the world, Indie Expo where all its participants compete for Game Access Awards, Business Expo and networking events. Since 2017, the organizers included workshops in the Game Access conference. [56][57][58]

GameFFest is a Game Festival held in Prague. Video Game Players can try Video Games for various Platforms and look around a Video Game history Museum. The Festival is a Part of PragoFFest.[59]

The GAMEDAY Festival has been held every May in Třeboň since 2010, part of Anifilm Třeboň. .[60]

The Czech Game of the Year Awards are annual awards that recognize accomplishments in video game development.Awards were part of Gameday Festival until became independent in 2017.[61]

The Booom Contest was held annually from 2011 to 2013. Prizes were awarded in various categories, including Game of the Year, Best Czech Video Game and Computer Game of the Year.[62] It was replaced by Player's Awards for next years.[63]

The Central and Eastern European Game Studies conference is held in Brno as an event designed to allow the discussion of video gaming by academics, journalists, developers and members of the public. It is organized by the Game Studies civic association.[64]

Game Jam Prague is annually held in January as part of almost 200 Game Jams over the World.

Game Brew Plzeň is a meeting of video game developers, graphic designers and business enthusiasts. It has been held in Plzeň since 2015.[65]

Gamer Pie is a video game festival held in Brno.[66]

Media[edit]

Print Media[edit]

Magazine Publisher Since
LeveL Naked Dog 1995
Score Omega Publishing Group 1994

Defunct print media[edit]

Magazine Since Ended
Excalibur 1991 2001
Game4U 2000 2006
GameStar 1999 2006
Klan 1996 2000

Television[edit]

Programs[edit]

Title Channel Since
Games TV Stream 2014
Game Page YouTube 2013
Hrajeme s Alim Prima Cool 2015
Indian TV Relax 2008
Re-Play Prima Cool 2009

Programs no longer broadcast[edit]

Title Channel Since Ended
Game Page Česká televize 1999 2012

Online media[edit]

Notable people in the Czech gaming industry[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]