At Electronic Arts, everything we do is meant to Inspire the World to Play. Approximately 8,800 employees bring the spirit of play to EA every day, living our Purpose & Beliefs – Creativity, Pioneering, Passion, Determination, Learning and Teamwork – to deliver powerful and immersive experiences to millions of players around the world. To celebrate employees who embody these values in their work, EA recently launched our first annual Purpose & Beliefs Awards.
Meet Stefan Strandberg, Creative Director of SEED and former Creative Director of Battlefield 1, who was recognized with the Passion Award for his creative vision, immersing players in the adventure and experiences of World War I like never before.
What is your role?
Currently, I am the Creative Director of SEED, EA’s creative incubator whose mission is to explore, build and help define the future of interactive entertainment. Previously, as Creative Director of Battlefield 1, I helped develop the original concept for the game and convince others that World War I represented a compelling universe for the taking. I oversaw creative development of the game, working closely with animation, audio and design teams to bring World War I to life for players.
How would you describe your experience developing Battlefield 1?
I spent 10 years with a colleague developing the idea, and honestly, we pitched it several times and failed miserably. With an event like World War I that people don’t know much about, envisioning the universe can feel as alien as a planet you’ve never seen. The traditional view of the war is that it was a stalemate of trench warfare, but that’s far from the truth. We wanted to bring to life the experiences of fighting in the mountains of Italy and the deserts of Arabia, or witnessing firsthand the Battle of Verdun. There’s no real antagonist in World War I, this was about people signing up for adventure.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy being surrounded by people who are smarter than me and who constantly push the boundaries. In this industry, we are not defined as leaders or managers, we are all masters of our crafts – whether we work in sound, animation or design. At EA, we have so many talented people and we are always a team, committed to creating the best possible experiences for our players.
What is your favorite game of all-time?
One of my favorite games is the first Mafia game, by Illusion Softworks. Its combination of scale, drama, narrative development and early open world design created a unique charm for that era of gaming.
How do you embrace Passion at EA?
Until delivery of the first assets for Battlefield 1, many didn’t believe in our vision for creating a World War I universe, but my team and I saw immense opportunity. I’m constantly looking for unseen opportunities to create new experiences, connect people with new ideas and enable the passion of others. With so many complexities in design, new games like Battlefield 1 are behemoths to bring to life, so it’s crucial to inspire others with your passion and get them onboard.
In this industry, we are not defined as leaders or managers, we are all masters of our crafts.
In your mind, what does it mean to Inspire the World to Play?
To Inspire the World to Play means that there is something for everyone at EA. We take pride in producing a range of titles that offer a variety of immersive experiences for players of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
How does Passion advance EA’s purpose to Inspire the World to Play?
Passion is always rewarded at EA as we are driven by an internal conviction and curiosity to go above and beyond in delivering amazing experiences for players. It’s manifested in our culture and our games.
What was your experience being recognized as a recipient of the Passion Award?
Even though I felt awkward onstage at the companywide awards ceremony, it was so fun! I had the opportunity to donate to the nonprofit of my choice and chose UNHCR for Syrian refugees, because I am passionate about addressing the pressing issues facing Syrian refugee children. There was also a Sims character developed in my likeness which I found hilarious – a stereotypical European game developer in a black turtleneck.
What does it mean to you to be recognized?
It was super humbling to be recognized with the Passion Award. Sometimes when you find yourself in your own echo chamber with an idea it can feel odd, but when I received the award, I started thinking maybe I’m not crazy!
At the end of the day, this award isn’t about me as an individual, but rather everyone who worked tirelessly to make the vision for Battlefield 1 a reality. This award is about celebrating who we are as a company and our values, which translates into the experiences we create for our players.
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