The Oranje and the Dutch Gaming Industry

Later today the Netherlands takes on Uruguay at Capetown in the World Cup semifinals after upsetting five-time champion Brazil and my 3 year-old daughter will be wearing an orange jersey in support. 

But I’m not Dutch, so why the Oranje?

Last month I was contacted by the Dutch Trade Commissioner stationed in Vancouver about participating in a Media Tour in support of Dutch Gaming Industry. The Netherlands had invited a number of American, British, and Japanese media to learn more about the burgeoning Dutch gaming sector and they were eager to have a Canadian join the tour.

I obliged and spent four days in Holland visiting their gaming hotspots and attending the NLGD Festival of Games in Utrecht. Over the next couple days I will share my experiences here on Techvibes with my fingers crossed that the Oranje win today and go on to compete for the World Cup on Sunday.

After the customary Welcome to Holland evening canal cruise down the waterways of old Utrecht, the media crew boarded the bus the next morning with Leeuwarden in the North as our first destination.

Festival of Games conference keynote Toru Iwatani – the one and only creator of Pac-man – decided to tag along as we visited the organizations and companies that make up Holland’s gaming space. Up first was multimedia studio Gameship and Motek Medical’s CAREN motion capture suite specifically designed for rehabilitation therapy.

Also presenting to the the media contingent at Gameship was Grendel Games Founder Tim Laning and Triangle Studios CEO Remco de Rooij. Laning had just returned from the Games For Heatlh Conference in Boston where he discussed his Wii Game for Laporscopic Surgery and how off-the-shelf technology can create a new learning training environment for doctors.

Our last visit of the day was the most impressive from a headcount and business perspective as we visited SPIL Games in Hilversum. SPIL runs a network of casual gaming sites which see upwards of 120 Million pageviews per month.

Every time we walked into an office full of game developers a hush came over the desks when they realized that the legendary Iwatani was in their presence. Apparently news of his accompaniment travelled quickly to each of our stops and his fans didn’t have any trouble identifying him thanks to his chomping Pac-man hand puppet.

After sitting through a slick corporate presentation that was polished and very Venture Capital ready we retired to in-house replica English Pub for some classic Dutch fare. Bitterballen anybody?

On Thursday I’ll wrap up day two of the media tour. Hup Holland Hup!