Mentorship in the Finnish Games Industry: An Insider’s Perspective
Mentorship plays a key role in professional development, especially for those starting their own indie game studios. The Finnish games industry is renowned for its culture of knowledge-sharing and networking, making mentorship an integral part of the ecosystem. Suvi Kiviniemi, a project specialist at the Living Game Intelligence Network (LGIN), works to connect startups with experienced mentors.
The LGIN is a support community for game industry startups, operating as a part of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki. The program, known as Turbiini, is funded by the university and offers a free three-month incubation track.
The LGIN currently has a roster of active mentors from various areas of the industry, including senior UX designers, CEOs, narrative designers, and engine evangelists. The network is expanding its reach through open events and active engagement on social media.
Support for Game Industry Startups
The LGIN functions as a mentoring and peer support network for game startups. In addition, it offers an incubation program called the Incubation Track, which is open to startups in the Helsinki area. Membership in the network is open to all Finnish teams. The incubation track and network are both completely free to join.
There are currently around 30 teams on the Incubation Track, with approximately 30-40 mentors who volunteer their time to help these startups. The online community fosters collaboration, with members helping each other, sharing development advice, and discussing industry trends.
The LGIN also hosts regular events, including a monthly open-for-all online event that allows participation from anywhere in the world. One of the highlights is the game design workshop, where teams present their games and receive valuable feedback from experienced designers.
The Origins of LGIN
The LGIN started as an EU project focused on game incubation. Suvi Kiviniemi, herself an entrepreneur in the gaming industry, recognized the importance of community and support among Finnish game developers. Motivated by this, she designed the LGIN network to not only assist startups but also foster a culture of collaboration and mutual assistance.
Challenges Faced by Game Companies in Finland
One of the main challenges for game companies, particularly those starting out, is the process of finding a good game concept. This can be a difficult task even for experienced developers. The LGIN mentors and peers provide valuable feedback and tools to help teams navigate this challenge successfully.
Additionally, many teams face the challenge of raising funds. In Finland, startups need to raise a substantial amount of money to become eligible for investment from organizations like Business Finland. The LGIN offers guidance on how to attract investors and secure funding.
The Qualities of a Good Mentor
A good mentor is someone who listens attentively and knows how to ask the right questions. The role of a mentor is not to provide all the answers but to guide individuals in finding their own path to success. Mentors with expertise in various aspects of game development can offer valuable insights and perspectives.
Benefits of Being a Mentor
Mentoring is a gratifying experience that allows individuals to help others and contribute to the growth of the gaming community. Mentors also have the opportunity to learn and expand their own knowledge through teaching. Networking with other mentors and teams is an added benefit, and mentors can build their personal brand in the industry.
The Unique Aspects of the Finnish Games Industry
The Finnish games industry stands out for its collaborative rather than competitive culture. Developers in Finland see themselves as competing against the world, rather than against each other. This is rooted in the country’s demoscene culture, which fostered a sense of camaraderie and encouraged innovation.