Armin Ibrisagic is a game designer and PR manager at Swedish Coffee Stain Studios. The studio had a smash hit last year with Goat Simulator, and they’re now working on a “super-secret game that will be revealed in the future.” At Nordic Game this May, Armin Ibrisagic will take the stage with a talk titled “What I Learned About Marketing from Goat Simulator”.
NG: What was the first game that really made you aware of games?
AI: I remember being into games for as long as I remember. Some of my earliest memories are being baffled at just how cool video games are. My parents came to Sweden in ’92, fleeing the civil war in Yugoslavia; I was a year old when we moved to Sweden. We didn’t have much money for toys and games and stuff like that. So during the first years of my life I only got to play those games that toy stores and game stores would exhibit; you know like those Super Nintendos and Nintendo 64s that they would let people try out before they bought them.
When I was four or five years old, I would hog those for as long as I could, until the staff basically told me to fuck off. It was awesome, though. For my seventh birthday I got my first Nintendo 64 with Mario 64 on it, and it was the coolest shit I’d ever seen! I seriously could not believe that I owned one. I didn’t actually know that you could own a Nintendo 64, I thought that they were only owned by game stores and toy stores to get people to come to their stores. I don’t know where I got that idea. I was a pretty stupid kid, I guess.
I was super careful with my Nintendo 64, though. I’d check if it was getting too hot every 15 minutes, and I’d turn it off and do something else because I was afraid it would overheat and break. I have no idea where I got that from, either. But I was really, really careful with it, and it’s still in mint condition today. Games weren’t just entertainment for me, they were these completely magical things, and I couldn’t believe that I actually had one in my home. It was so fucking cool.
Nintendo Super Mario 64
Today as an adult, I have an actual job, and I can afford to buy whatever games I like so that’s exactly what I do. I make games during the day, and I buy and play them when I get home. It’s awesome, and it’s exactly what I want to do with my life. As long as I get to do that, I’ll be happy as hell.
NG: Which game has made you most frustrated or angry?
AI: Fucking Dota 2. We played a game against another game studio, and they beat us. The beat us on the 58-minute mark, and we were so close to winning. We were so fucking close! That was three years ago, and I haven’t reinstalled the game since.
NG: Which game have you spent the most time on?
AI: Probably Grand Strategy games from Paradox. I’ve played Crusader Kings, Victoria and Europa Universalis 3 for hundreds of hours and when Crusader Kings 2, Victoria 2 and Europa Universalis 4 came out, I played those even more. Right now, I have 784 hours logged in EU4, 577 in Crusader Kings and 579 in Victoria 2. They’re extremely complex games to learn so there’s definitely a learning curve, but once you learn them they’re the best. They’re the type of games that I can just pick up and play, either for 15 minutes or for the better part of a whole day. I’m playing a game right now in Crusader Kings 2 as Ethiopia, and I’ve conquered the entire African continent, the Arabian peninsula, dismantled the Catholic church and converted Europe to the Ethiopian Coptic Church and goddammit, now I want to play Crusader Kings 2. I’ll probably play it when I get home. How many more interview questions are left?
NG: What game, genre or game mechanic would you like to see brought back the most?
AI: I’d really love to explore comedy in games. Comedy films are really big in the film industry but extremely small in the games industry. I think that a lot of game companies take themselves too seriously. So there isn’t any genre or mechanic that I want to bring back; I think that we’re recycling things too much already. I’d like to see stupid things, games that make no sense, and gaming mechanics that can barely be called mechanics. There’s always going to be room for classical gameplay – I’d like to see more crazy shit invented.
NG: What is the best detail you ever noticed in a game?
AI: The goat in Goat Simulator is a female. I can’t believe that people get this wrong all the time, but when you find the secret throne room you get an achievement called “Queen of the Goats”. People keep saying that the goat is a “he”. It’s a “she”!
NG: Which game would do well in another media form?
AI: I can’t believe that they haven’t made the World of Warcraft movie yet. What the hell. I want to see it. And the enormous success of Game of Thrones has shown that you can take something nerdy that isn’t mainstream, and make something extremely well-made that will be loved by both hardcore fans and mainstream normies. Can we have a Warcraft HBO series?
Now I’m all worked up about this. Why haven’t Blizzard made a Game of Thrones-inspired Warcraft series? That would be friggin’ awesome.
Armin’s session “What I Learned About Marketing from Goat Simulator” is scheduled for Friday afternoon, 22 May at Slagthuset in Malmö. Read more about Armin Ibrisagic on the conference website here and his talk here.