SVEROK: Gaming from the Swedish Perspective by Cenneth Loof

From: Cenneth Loof

Dear Mimesis,

Of course even we have grumpy old people who think we are all satanists and evil worshippers, but they are not many in Sweden.

Maybe it is the system we have. Youth recreation is supported all over the country. We have thousands of associations supported mainly by the state,the largest of them being Hockey clubs.

I don't know how your country supports their young (and not so young) but we have our own club house payed mostly by taxes. Taxes are of course high in Sweden.

Information also helps to lessen the suspicion. We had live roleplay at the manor of Tyreso, and lots of families showed up to watch.

Feel free to ask SVEROK how thir organisation works and they will be glad to help.


What is SVEROK?

SVEROK, Sweden Role-playing and Conflictgaming Federation, is a national federation which cause is to encourage the interest for role-playing, boardgames and other parlour games. Since the foundation of SVEROK in 1988 it has had a growth rate of 70% per year. Since 1991 SVEROK is acknowledge of the Government Youth committee and has since the start active supported gaming activities in all of Sweden.

More than 90% of the members of SVEROK is in the age between 7 and 25. You become member in SVEROK when you become member in a society that is connected with SVEROK. The only fee that you have to pay is the one you pay to the society. SVEROK accepts any non-profit organisation that works in some of the fields that SVEROK organises.

In the annual report 1994/95 SVEROK had 23 148 members which of 21061 was in the age of 7 - 25. Among the youth ( those between 7 - 25 years old) 82% were boys. In the annual report 1996/97 SVEROK had over 1100 connected societies.

The organisation of SVEROK

SVEROK consists of connected societies and the members in them. All the members have the possibility to influence what the federation are to do. Every year, in spring, SVEROK has its ordinary National Meeting. This is the federations highest organ with the right of decision. To this National Meeting the societies choose 101 representatives from all of the country. On the National Meeting a national executive committee is elected for a period of one year.

SVEROK has district-activities all over the country. These districts acts on county-level. These counties are in Sweden special sub-governmental districts that primary administrates hospital and medical attendance in the county but also distributes money to the youth recreation activities. SVEROK's districts have their own activities and can help the connected societies more than the federation because that they are more local.

SVEROK is a non-profit federation and has no religious or political connections and do not accept societies that have such. SVEROK accepts only open and democratic societies. It goes without saying that its free for a society to be a member of the federation. SVEROK gives financial support to the societies.

The financial support of SVEROK

SVEROK is one of the Swedish federation that is acknowledged by the Government Youth committee and receives government money for carrying on with their activities. These money is then distributed out to the societies in the form of different financial support based on for example the frequency of gaming and the size of the society. Some of the money also goes to federation to secure its existents.

SVEROK's most important support is the activity-support. The societies gets a certain amount of money every day they gather for at least an hour and practise their activity. This is the main reason that so many societies can continue to exist practising such an expensive hobby that it is. Other things that SVEROK supports is different arrangements like live, conventions and contributions to fanzines ( that is small hobby-newspapers made for and of role-players). SVEROK also gives money to all kind of projects that the societies and its members are working with. These projects can be almost anything but general rules are established for the judgement of the applications.

Role-playing and identity

In a report from the Government Youth committee they refer to the British youth scientist Paul Willis that establish the fact that youth in their teen experiments with different identities and this can be characterised as a symbolic creation. Paul Willis continue with that the youth often use the popular culture as a mean for understanding the world. Government Youth committee therefor pronounces that it is to "consider role-playing as a constructive spare-time occupation as something that above all gives the youth the possibility as a pastime and enjoyment under social forms." But, they continue, role-playing is so much more than that; role-laying gives the youth the possibility to acquire qualifications." The game in it self invites to both creativity and a learning in among other things oral presentation. The ability to co-operate, being flexible, to negotiate and re-negotiate in a social situation is probably such qualifications. And by writing their own adventures and through a need of learning more about historical, cultural and social situations a learning is stimulated above the ned of the game. Through role-playing the youth also gets acquire knowledge about the western mythology. Role-playing should therefor be a good example of how the modern societies popular culture is used by the youth.

Who plays & how many?

Role-playing is one of Sweden's biggest youth-hobbies. In a national study ( the recreation and culturehabitstudy 1995 ) made by the Government Youth committee about the youths cultural habits in the age 13-25 was questions about role-playing. It then showed that 16% percent of the youth had played role-playing sometime or more often the latest year. 9% of the boys had played sometime or more often the latest month. The same percentage among the girls were 3%. If you divide these figures down in age-categories you can see that the frequency based on the monthly activities is 13% in the age of 13-15. In the age of 16-18 it was 6% and in the age 19-25 3%.The study also shows that the differences in social background is almost non-existence.

This text-material is from one of SVEROK's information-brochures.

Copyright SVEROK 1997