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Sverok, the Swedish Role Playing and Conflict Gaming Federation, is a nationwide, governmentally funded, organization for gamers in Sweden. The following is a short summary of SVEROK's activities which tries to cover the things non-Swedes tend to ask about. http://www.sverok.se

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Sweden has quite a history when it comes to gaming and role playing; ignoring the vikings, the mediaeval society, the industrial revolution and the world wars (It is quite sufficient to say "Yes, they did play games back then too"), we end up sometime in the 1970s - the golden age of dungeons and kobold bashing. In 1972, the oldest member organization in Sverok was founded: Forodrim[?], in Stockholm. Chainmail arrived '74, Dungeons & Dragons in 1976 - those were some of the pioneering Role Playing Games (RPGs). It did not take long before they trickled over to Sweden from the States.

In 1976, GothCon[?] (which is the oldest gaming convention in the world still running, by the way) took place for the first time. Gamers in Gothenburg gathered over Easter to play games, have a good time and, no doubt, consume some junk food. (After all, some things never change.)

In 1982, the first Swedish RPG got published: Drakar och Demoner (Translates to Dragons and Demons - in Swedish, the title has the feel of Dungeons and Dragons). During the eighties, the role playing and board gaming hobby grew to new proportions. Several new gaming conventions popped up in various parts of the country, some of which are still alive and kicking today. Numerous gaming clubs erupted as well. In Sweden, most counties give support to youth clubs of a decent size. By uniting the local gamers, many clubs got free or cheap places to keep their stuff, play their games and eat junk food.

It should also be noted that the microwave oven became a commonplace item in the late 1980s, something which has impacted the gaming hobby greatly.

In 1988, people from a number of gaming clubs founded SVEROK, so as to have an umbrella organization for gaming and to raise government funds. Of course, both gaming cons and gaming clubs existed in Sweden long before SVEROK. As people tend to get interested in the 'government money' part, let's skip to that before discussing SVEROK during the '90s and today.

Sverok was actually the second go at founding a nationwide federation of role playing gamers. Local federations had previously formed with the common aim of uniting in a national organization. When this effort stalled, they united into SVEROK instead.

So, you're getting government money to play games?

Yes and no - SVEROK is a youth organization sporting roughly 32,000 members, offering nationwide coverage. Any sufficiently large (over 3000 members, generally) and democratic youth organization in this country receives government funds. So it's us, the Scouts, the Red Cross youth organization, the Church and quite a few others - no, they don't give money especially to gamers. Only to democratic youth gaming organizatons. All in all, 64 organizations receive this support.

In 2002 we received 5,304,558 SEK. That's roughly 650,000 euro or 550,000 US$. Our goal is to hand out 50% of this money directly to the member organizations. The remaining 50% is used for rent, salaries (for our administrative staff), travel, events, printing Sverox[?] (our tri-monthly magazine), developing the organization and the situation for gamers in Sweden, paying for Internet access (we host our members' pages and stuff) and miscellaneous other things.

It should be noted that the sum mentioned above is what the national body receives—the eight districts (see below) also get various amounts of money from their local governing bodies. This ranges from roughly 60,000 SEK to 600,000 SEK, depending on the number of members the various areas support and on the overall financial situation of the area. See below under 'districts'.

Sverok: 1988 -

During the early years of the 1990s, numerous gaming clubs formed and joined Sverok. The only requirement put upon Sverok by the government (in order to be eligible for support money) was the one to be a democratic organization. This was also imposed on the member organizations/gaming clubs - they had to be democratic in order to join Sverok. By 1997, Sverok had well over 20 000 members. Since then, there's been a slight reduction in membership for youth organizations in general. While we haven't been spared altogether, Sverok only suffered a slight reduction. At the time of writing, 2002, we're yet again gaining momentum and members.

In the early and mid nineties, a witch hunt on role players and larpers occurred. The fact that one organized entity - Sverok - could counter the criticism in the press and on national TV greatly eased the problems. Today, role playing is considered quite kosher in Sweden.

The structure of Sverok

Sverok is a democratic organization. How the democracy is implemented has shifted throughout the years. At the time of writing (summer of 2002), people start gaming clubs. These clubs are the members of Sverok - how the clubs are run is entirely up to them, as long as they've got a democratic constitution.

Once a year, there's a general meeting, usually in March or April. The clubs can nominate representatives to this meeting, and it is the clubs who vote on which ones will go to the general meeting once the first round of nominees are in. This is done on a regional basis - clubs in each region vote for representatives from that particular region. In total, there are 101 representatives with voting power. The annual general meeting is the ultimate governing body of Sverok.

A board (with 12 members, currently) is elected during the general meeting. Also, a budget is set and whatever people feel is important is discussed and decided about.

This is the national part of Sverok. In addition, there are regional districts who function in roughly the same way, on a regional level.

The districts

Sverok has eight districts, together covering every square inch of the country. The organization isn't really 'made up of' these districts; rather, they are as independent as can be while still being part of the national mother organization. The constitution of each district is in part controlled by the national organization - mainly, the purpose of the district and its membership base, which is all the members of Sverok within the geographic area the district encompasses. The districts themselves are democratic entities, whose boards are chosen directly by the members of each particular district - just as the national organization is chosen directly by members nationwide. The districts are, in geographical order, north to south:

Being elected to a district board is a source of pride, responsibility and headache. The board members are all volunteers and do not receive any financial reimbursement (hard cash) for their work. Depending on the district, they're responsible for an annual budget of roughly 60 000 SEK up to 600 000 SEK—well over 6 500 or 65 000 Euro, respectively.

How the money is spent differs greatly; members in some (often rather densely populated) parts of the country prefer manned offices. Other districts are spread out in such a fashion that it's nearly impossible to keep a central office, hence their organization is a lot more virtual by nature. Apart from rent and salaries, common ways to spend the money for the greater good of the members include subsidized trips to big gaming events, monetary support (hard cash) to events and cheap-or-free rental of stuff among other things. Due to the very nature of this arrangement, things has a tendency to come and go - some years a particular district find it fit to print a member mag, other years not. Some years they organize bus tours, other years they don't.

Throughout the years, the districts have amassed quite an impressive pile of equipment: Roughly ten network switches (sure, that's not a lot, but it's mainly for those gaming clubs who need one, tops two, for their LAN party[?]), a set of quality comm radios, two printing engines, paper sorting, folding and stapling equipment, book binding equipment, a paintball course(!), portable mediaeval houses(!!), a pile of computers and related gadgets, a CD copying robot, various medical kits... the list goes on. Compare, though, with the literally hundreds of projects supported throughout the years, the thousands of members who ever set foot in one of the offices, etc.

The philosophy of Sverok

It's nigh impossible to pin down 'a' philosophy or 'the' philosophy of Sverok. One, this is ever-changing at the whims of the annual general meeting. Two, to every rule there's an exception. Nevertheless, here's a shot at it...

Sverok has always been acting towards having a slim organization. We employ two people to keep the daily routing going (registering new members, answering the phone, checking the records, archiving stuff, reading the mail, etc.). Also, "chairperson" is a fee-remunerated post. We believe that being streamlined is in the best interest of our members - the less the organization by itself eats up, the more is left to them. All the boards - both the national one and the district ones - are made up of volunteers who receive no cash payment for their work.

We believe in both using and questioning the system. Sverok is somewhat well known both regionally and nationally for involvement in political venues - usually related to our source of income, granted. That said, we do try to ensure that the system is not abused - we play by the book, even though we like to know every minor rule and damage table in it. (We are, after all, gamers.)

Finally, we believe in change. Change is... well, if not always good, at least an indication that we're not a monolith with ways set in stone. Just because it didn't work in '93, doesn't mean it won't work now. During the course of our existence, the goals, values and methods of Sverok has changed radically several times. Let us hope it goes on doing so...

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