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Gustav Groth

Contrary to popular belief, Gustav Groth, Executive Producer at Paradox Interactive and BSc in Business and Economics alum doesn't spend all day playing video games. He does however, work with programmers and designers to build the vision, strategy, and ultimately the game (product) to life.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

I’m an Executive Producer at Paradox Interactive, a developer and publisher of video games. As a Executive Producer it is my responsibility that the games I manage turn a healthy profit. In brief, that involves building the product vision, executing on business strategy and leading a team of developers and marketing specialists.

People outside the games industry seem to think that I mostly spend my days playing games. I wish that was the case — in fact, I should spend a lot more time doing just that. Knowing your product as well as your competition is key to being a good Executive Producer. But somehow, reality always manages to fill my days with the usual meetings, emails, workshops and budget follow-ups. That said, all of those things turn out to be pretty fun when the subject matter is the creation and marketing of awesome game experiences! And every now and then, I find a couple of hours on Fridays for “market research”, if you know what I mean...


What interested you about working in video games?

My entire life I’ve been glued to the screen, with a keyboard or controller in my hands. Even while studying at SSE, I clocked somewhere north of a 1,000 hours of DOTA 2 in the SASSE IT Committee room on Saltmätargatan. However, I knew little of the industry behind the games I played, and it hadn’t occurred to me as a viable career path. At some point someone pointed out that my biggest passion was games so why not apply for a position at a gaming company? Luckily, Stockholm is home to a plethora of excellent developers and publishers big and small.


What is the most exciting part of your work? What makes a game succeed?

There’s a lot of exciting parts of my work! One being trying to figure out the answer to the billion dollar question posed above (what makes a game succeed). Most games fail, and are either cancelled during development or (worse) release to disappointing sales and reception from players. Great games are made by a great team who work towards a vision that stands out from the competition. My job is about figuring out what makes our games special, and why players should care enough to spend their money and time on them. If we manage to create a vision that answers those questions, my time is spent figuring out what resources we need in terms of staff, competencies and budget.

Secondly, in an industry moving as fast as the games industry, no day is ever the same. I usually know very little about what’s about to happen when I walk through the office doors in the morning. So it very rarely gets dull. Sometimes (very seldom) I wish it was just a little bit duller and more predictable.

And most importantly, the people who work with games are the most passionate, nerdy people you’ll ever meet. Games are made at the border of tech and art, and the people you meet range from programmers working on cutting edge software to designers and artists who dream up incredible adventures for players to experience. The conversations happening over lunch and work can be rather entertaining, if not outright absurd at times.


What are some of the challenges of your role?

As mentioned, the industry moves very fast and lessons learned can quickly become forgotten or out-of-date. In addition, no game is ever the same is and as a result, my job includes a lot of failing and learning by doing.

Paradoxically, things can also move very slow at times, with games taking 3-5 years to make. It can be frustrating to work on something for such a long time without getting feedback from customers. You never know if your game is any good until you get it in the hands of players, even if you’ve built it to specification, on time and on budget.


Where do you think your field is going in the next 5-10 years? What does the future of gaming look like in your opinion?

Games seem to be following the same trajectory as streaming entertainment, where content is becoming ever more plentiful and readily accessible to consumers. This development is gaining pace thanks to technological advances in games streaming, the widespread adoption of smartphones and influx of capital to developers. The companies that succeed will be the ones who make games that stand out from the rest and offer competitive value for money and time spent playing them. Also, creating brands from games in order to build a lasting fan base will be key to long-term profitability.


You’ve chosen perhaps an atypical career path after SSE, but how did your time/education at SSE help guide you in your career so far?

It was at a guest lecture arranged by the student association, SASSE, that I first met Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester, who I would later reach out to for my first job at Paradox. I am grateful to SASSE and SSE for giving me that opportunity.

Also, my further involvement in SASSE as member of the board and President of the IT Committee granted me with useful experience in budgeting, management and leadership.


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current/prospective students?

Three things:

  1. You’ll work for almost your entire life, so there’s no rush to start working. Take your time at university and enjoy it as much as possible. Who’s gonna remember a failed exam in 10 years?
  2. Companies in all kinds of industries need savvy business graduates. Look beyond the ones that show up at SSE if they don’t catch your interest.
  3. Stay hydrated!


What are three words that sum up your time at SSE?

Tack och förlåt! (Thanks, and sorry!)