Despite the great difficulty of acquiring computers in 1980s Czechoslovakia, amateur enthusiasts still managed to do so – and produced hundreds of computer games, some of which were politically subversive. They frequently did this on jerry-built computer systems, while homemade arcade games were also to be found. This scene is the focus of the book Gaming the Iron Curtain by academic Jaroslav Švelch. When we spoke, Švelch told me about his own first experiences with computer games back in the ‘80s.
The Czech video gaming industry increased its revenues by 34 percent last
year to three billion crowns, the Czech Game Developers Association
reported on Thursday.
Czech game developers brought out 31 new titles in 2018, mostly for PCs and consoles. One of the most successful ones was a virtual reality gamed called Beat Sabre, released by Czech indie studio Hyperbolic Magnetism.
There are currently around 75 companies developing video games in the Czech Republic, employing some 1500 developers.
Just this month, Warhorse Studios, one of the country’s most successful videogame studios, was bought by a foreign investor in a CZK 1.1 billion deal. It is the successful conclusion to a project that just five years ago had to resort to Kickstarter to fund its first game. But Warhorse’s game Kingdom Come: Deliverance is not the only accomplished title to be made in the Czech Republic, where pen and paper games, rather than videogames were the hit just a quarter of a century ago.
February 2018 saw the launch of the Czech medieval role-playing game, Kingdom Come: Delivarance. It was the culmination of a 7 year long project that assembled a studio led by some of the most stellar names in Czech video game development. Despite starting its existence as a Kickstarter project and suffering from some curious bugs in the initial days following its launch, the game has managed to find appeal among a fairly wide audience, reaching over a million sold copies just two weeks after being released and getting largely favourable reviews
One of the biggest events is taking place in the Czech computer games markets with the official launch of Kingdom Come – Deliverance. The game is the creation of a relatively new Prague studio, taking players back to the Czech lands during the troubled times of the early 15th century, with a lot riding on its success.
The Czech educational game ‘Attentat 1942’ about the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia will be competing at the prestigious world Independent Games Festival. The project, developed by Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences, tells a story of the occupation through the eyes of survivors.
Twenty years ago, SCS software was a small company just starting out, founded by three friends with programming backgrounds. At the start, the company took small contracts designing games for other publishers, often under a tight schedule and limited budget. In those days, one of the founders admits, the company was more or less invisible, with IPs going to the client. Not so anymore.
A hugely popular exhibition organized by London’s Barbican Centre has just opened at Hall 40 at the Prague Market (Pražská tržnice). Called Game On, it is a must for anyone interested in the history, artistic impact and cultural significance of arcade and video games. At the show, visitors can play newer titles as well as early classics like Asteroids or Galaga.
Martin Schmid, Matej Moravčík (PhD students at Department of Applied Mathematics, Charles University) and Viliam Lisý (Assistant professor, Czech Technical University) are three of several authors of a recent paper published in this month’s edition of Science reporting on the development of a revolutionary AI called DeepStack which they helped design at the University of Alberta.
Czech Games Edition is a small but internationally-respected firm which has published very well-known original board game designs, some of them in as many as 12 languages. Titles include acclaimed party games like Krycí jména (Code Names) or heavier titles like the civ-builder Through the Ages. CGE’s newest release, which got a lot of hype at this year’s Essen Game Fair, was Adrenaline, a game pitting futuristic combatants against each other in a tight arena of rooms. Think proverbial “knife fight in an phone booth”.