As gamemakers, our mission has always been to create unforgettable experiences that entertain, bring joy and connect people with each other. We believe that striving towards a diverse, inclusive and equal representation amongst our industry, teams and games, brings us closer to that goal and enables us to make Better Games, Together.
We want our companies to be workplaces where everyone can feel heard, valued, supported, and celebrated, as they are. That’s why Metacore, Next Games, Supercell, and the non-profit We In Games, have joined forces to build deeper connections between our industry and the LGBTQIA+ community. We have partnered with Helsinki Pride collectively because we believe that working together, we can do more, learn more and support this community more effectively.
We are fully aware that there’s still a lot of work to do, but after listening to our LGBTQIA+ community, we felt this was a step in the right direction.
What does Better Games Together actually mean? For us, it means the following:
1. Our Companies
We are striving towards inclusion and belonging within our own companies. For us that work has begun with, for example, educating ourselves on our blind spots and creating a shared understanding through training on topics such as allyship, inclusive language and non-binary genders, as well as safe working environments for LGBTQIA+ people.
2. Our Industry
We want to create a more inclusive industry. For that, we need to work together, share best practices and learn from the community, as well as each other. We believe that by working together and bringing more diverse voices into the industry and onto our teams, we can create a more inclusive working culture and stronger game experiences for our players.
We hope this is just the beginning of a long-term collaboration and we warmly welcome other games companies and organizations to join us.
Helsinki Pride Month is celebrated in June 2022, and it will culminate in the Pride Parade on July 2nd.
Our president Taina Myöhänen received The Power Player of the Year award at the Finnish Game Awards 2022. This award is given for a significant contribution to the industry; Myöhänen got that from the work done for diversity and inclusion in the games industry.
“This award is not only for me, but for all of us working for DEI in the games industry. Our work matters. It is also a strong statement that DEI issues are seen important in the Finnish game industry”, summarises Myöhänen the award.
The award ceremony was held on 25th May 2022 at ravintola Töölö, in Helsinki. The gala celebrations stream recording can be viewed at https://youtu.be/imzk4dVRuE0.
We in Games Finland, together with IGDA Finland, carried out a questionnaire in 2021 about the experiences in the game industry in Finland. The results give an overview of a mostly diverse and supporting atmosphere, but also bring to light problems when looking at the answers from marginalized groups and non-males.
This data was collected through the We In Games internal newsletter, IGDA Finland’s newsletter, and several posts on closed social media groups for game industry professionals in Finland, including the We In Games Finland Facebook group. The survey was a Google Form that was open from January 21st to February 7th 2021. There was no way to verify whether or not the respondents of the survey were actually working/studying in Finland, but we reminded them several times during the survey itself that this was meant for people working in the Finnish game industry. We received a total of 178 answers.
Marginalised groups here mean all the respondents who responded that they belong to a marginalised group based on their sexual or gender identity, religion, being a person of colour, disability, chronic illness, immigration status or by some other factor (84 respondents). Non-males are all the respondents who did not select “male” as their gender (104 respondents). 74 of the respondents identified as male.
Diversity, inclusion and equal treatment
On a scale of 1–7, 89% felt that their game studio or school is accepting of people from diverse and marginalised backgrounds (scores 5, 6 and 7). For male-identifying respondents, 95% felt this way, and 4% gave a score 4. Only one response was below the score of 4. When looking at non-male respondents, 86% gave a score above 4. However, scores 1–3 represent 10% of the respondents. Within respondents who represent marginalized groups, the figures were similar with 85% giving a score above 4 and 11% giving a score below 4. From those who gave further details about a score of 6 or 7, schools were mentioned as well as the bigger gaming studios, and Rovio got the most mentions.
Within the data, two different but simultaneous discourses or discussions about diversity are present. The practical discourse is linked to everyday work and presents as very positive towards diversity, since within this discourse the industry actually is diverse and all kinds of people are “already working here”. The political discourse instead may be linked to the larger political discussion about who “is allowed to be here”. Here diversity is seen more as polarizing and setting people in one (political) identity category at a time. This finding of two discourses, which are sometimes in conflict, could appear interesting for example in following DEI projects.
82% of the respondents said that if someone at their workplace or school came out as transgender, non-binary or similar, they would be supported and welcomed, and people would use their new name and pronouns (scores 5, 6 and 7). For male-identifying respondents, 81% felt this way, and 17% gave a score 4. Only two responses didn’t believe this would happen (scores below 4). From non-males 83% believed that their school or workplace would be welcoming, but 8% didn’t agree. In respondents who belong to a marginalized group, 80% agreed, 14% were indecisive and 6% didn’t agree. Some comments were left about not having been in such a situation yet and that some people might be unsure on how to react, so more information and educational materials would be helpful. Positive experiences described by multiple respondents were recorded and some people expressed their support in the open answers. However there was some uncertainty present, and especially non-binary gender identities were viewed as something new and as a topic people still need to learn more about.
76% of the respondents agreed with the statement “At my studio, workplace, or school, men and non-men are treated equally”. 11% were undecided and 13% didn’t agree. 87% of male respondents believed that everyone was treated equally and only 4% didn’t agree. Within non-male respondents, 68% said that men and non-men were treated equally, and 19% didn’t agree with the statement. Respondents from marginalized groups answered similarly, with 64% agreeing and 19% disagreeing. The difference in compensation was mentioned in the comments as one of the reasons why the respondents didn’t believe that men and non-men were treated equally.
When asked about how much racism and xenophobia did the respondent think exists in the Finnish game industry, 3% of the more senior respondents thought that there is none (score 1), 47% that there is very little or little (scores 2–3), 33% that there’s some (scores 4–5) and 17% that there’s a lot (scores 6–7). Of the more junior respondents, 10% thought that there is none, 32% that there’s very little or little, 48% that there’s some and 10% that there’s a lot. The comments note that there are more workers from abroad in the game industry than in other industries and that the companies are more welcoming, but that getting the first job is hard as a foreigner and people who don’t speak Finnish are sometimes discriminated against in the society as well as the game industry.
Further research on diversity and inclusion in the Finnish game industry based on the questionnaire
This article is the first one on the series that is based on the questionnaire We in Games Finland accomplished in 2021 together with IGDA Finland. In following articles, we will analyse sexual harrasment in our industry, the issue of unpaid internship, and list highlights and issues we could do better in this industry.
Our aim is to conclude this survey biannually, and compare the result to get the clear image where our industry is going with diversity. The next survey is planned for 2023.
Written by: Essi Jukkala, Susi Nousiainen, Taina Myöhänen and Licia Prehn
In the annual meeting, the action plan for the year 2021 was approved. The organisation decided to focus on the following topics for this year. If you want to help with any of the topics, contact the responsible persons! All help is welcome, and you can always contact the board or email firstname.lastname@example.org to become a volunteer<3
We raise awareness of diversity and inclusion in the game industry
The association continues actively promoting diversity and inclusion within the game industry. Members of WiGFi will give talks at game industry events about diversity, inclusion, the association and its aims. Contact: email@example.com, the board
We share and promote best practices of diversity and inclusion in the industry, e.g. arranging events with companies willing to share their DEI practices. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Emmi Hattunen / Essi Jukkala
The association shares fact-based information on diversity and inclusion via its own public channels and other suitable channels. Contact: Tarja Porkka-Kontturi
The Inclusive Leadership program is an accessible eight month leadership training that aims to catalyse positive change in the way we lead, engage and retain our industry’s diverse talent. The project will be funded by Finnish game companies. The current plan is to start the project in autumn 2021. Contact: The program is designed and led by Salla Hiiskoski.
We amplify the association’s expert role on diversity and inclusion in games
The association shares knowledge and provides fact based information on the state of diversity and inclusion in the Finnish game industry. In addition, it shares this knowledge to the international game industry in general, for policymakers, the public sector and other associations outside the games industry. Collaboration activities include, for example, working on the Generation Equality project, collaborating with Fairplay Alliance, and doing research with the National Council of Women of Finland on the Gender in Play project. Contact: Taina Myöhänen
The association participates in the public debate around diversity and inclusion about the game industry. Contact: email@example.com, the board
We offer role models
WiGFi’s Speakers List facilitates the diversification of the conference scene by promoting the talents and experience of industry professionals. The Speakers List is our longest running project, it started right after the constitutive meeting. The project will continue for 2021 and focus on promoting the list as the most used source for seeking game industry speakers. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Essi Jukkala
WiGFi is actively seeking possibilities to present the game industry in schools. Contact: email@example.com, Taina Myöhänen
We enhance the career of WIGFI members
The Mentorship program is aimed at WiGFi members at the beginning of their career, or at their career crossroads. The call for the third mentorship program closed at the end of February 2021, and the program is running from mid March until mid June. Planning of the Mentorship program 4 will start in late 2021. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Salla Hiiskoski Plans for WiGFi’s members working in middle management to advance their careers are ready, but the project launch is postponed until 2022 due to the difficulties that the coronavirus presented. In 2021, WiGFi will focus on events supporting career growth and personal growth. Contact: email@example.com, Emmi Hattunen, Dina Ramse
We enhance the position of LGBTQ+ persons in the industry
To increase LGBTQ+ understanding in our industry, WiGFi will partner with Helsinki Pride to offer education for Finnish games studios on how to support LGBTQ+ persons in the workplace. WiGFi will also act as the official Helsinki Pride partner and organise an event during Pride Week, and partner with Finnish Game Jam on organising Pride Jam. Contact: Licia Prehn
We support gender equality in games
Gender in Play – Representations of Gender in Games project discusses gender representations. The project collects fact-based information about gender representations in Finnish games from 2018 to 2020, analyses gender-based violence in games and collects & shares best practices on creating more diverse characters in games and promotes healthier game words for all genders. The project is implemented in collaboration with The Council of Women of Finland / Making an Impact with Equality Acts project, and funded by the Ministry of Justice. Contact: Taina Myöhänen
Our internal development
To strengthen the brand, WIGFI will allocate this year some money for visual presentations of the organisation. This includes photos of events, stock-photo-like photos for the website and other marketing materials and visuals. Contact: Essi Jukkala
The second membership survey will be organised in autumn 2021. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
During the term 2020-2021, the board of We in Games Finland has had the president, eight board members and two deputy board members. The board can have two to eight members, and up to eight deputy members. The members are elected at the annual meeting. The term for the board members is two years, and for deputy members one year. Board members can also resign after one year, in which case a new member can be elected to their place in the annual meeting. The board is the entity that handles the association’s affairs.
What do the board members do?
The president leads the board meetings, looks after the board, volunteers and the organisation as a whole, and in 2020-2021 the president has also actively participated in activities and discussions promoting diversity and inclusion in the game industry and society. The board needs to have a vice-president, secretary and a treasurer. The secretary handles all the practicalities regarding meetings: preparing the agenda together with the board, sending meeting invitations for board members, writes the meeting minutes and handles any space or equipment needed for having the meetings. The treasurer takes care of the financials of the organisation, paying bills when needed and manages the organisation’s bank account. For 2021-2022 Essi and Anna will continue in these roles. The vice president has been in charge of membership issues, internal communications, and has also been participating in discussions with our partners as well as running projects. The vice-president takes the responsibilities of the president, when the president is unavailable.
In general, board members can quite freely choose what topics they focus on. As WiGFi has organised a lot of events before the pandemic, an events coordinator is a position we wish to have in the board every year. Other than that, any role can be suggested for the board. In 2020-2021 we have had two board members focusing on event processes and organising, one board member leading external communications, social media and diversity work, and two other board members who have been focusing on different projects and collaborations like the speaker list, UNICEF, LGIN etc. The two deputy members have been helping the board members with certain matters and they have also organised some things based on their interests.
What are the responsibilities of board members? What about deputy board members? What does this mean in practice?
The board members and deputy board members are invited to attend the board meetings approximately every month. At least half of the board members need to be present in the meeting so that a quorum is present, i.e. the decisions made in the meeting are valid. If there are not enough board members, deputy board members can be invited to act in the place of the absent board members to reach quorum. Attending the meetings is very important as the decisions about the organisation’s affairs are done only in board meetings. The meetings last usually one to two hours, and the attendees are expected to read about the matters on the agenda beforehand.
In addition to the meetings the board members work in smaller groups, or by themselves, to advance the topics they are responsible for. This workload varies a lot monthly based on the projects and responsibilities, but the board and the president are actively looking out for each other so no one has too many responsibilities on their plate.
The board members, deputy board members and volunteers communicate on Slack, so following and taking part in those discussions on a regular basis is highly recommended for all board members.
Keeping track of your tasks, attending meetings and collaborating are the three most important things a board member needs to do. The association has to follow its rules and the association law, but you do not need to be familiar with these beforehand, the more experienced board members will help in any matters regarding the official business. The board works on topics the association members feel are important, and follows the members’ opinion in their decision making. All the work that the board members do is voluntary, so everyone, with even the smallest ideas to take forward, is warmly invited to join the board. No work done is too small and every little step takes the organisation forward!