We had an amazing luck to have Joni Finne to sit down with us at the PHZ Games Studios coach to talk about the meaning of volunteer work for the gaming community. IGDA and the Finnish Game Awards 2021 awarded him as the volunteer of 2020 prize just last week. This prize is highly sought after and what especially makes Joni happy to be awarded with it is the reason that it is coming from his industry colleagues! The happy winner chatted with us about the meaning of volunteer work in game industry and what does it mean to him personally.
Gaming as an industry is still young, roughly about 25 years. That means that the organizations and companies in it are relatively small. Many of the events such as Assembly, GDC, Nordic Games or organizations like IGDA or Suomen Pelikehittäjät Ry are running with volunteer work. People who have passion for making games and working in the industry are also putting in a lot of extra effort to share industry knowledge and making game industry best practices, creating events and culture. This important, but often unseen or unrecognized work is hugely important for the growing industry. Joni is a one part of this army of dedicated game developers and volunteers by heart!
Joni started his gaming career as many of his peers, as a player and a fan of video games. Back in 1990s the industry and the games were quite different. He names his early inspirations games Driver and Command & Conquer: Red Alert that he played a lot as a youngster. After studying programming and computer sciences in Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences Joni decided to focus on game industry. He started working on Gleap Health Technologies Android-project and also started to work as a volunteer in IGDA Kotka Hub and then as the hub lead until spring 2020. Today he splits his time between being a games and IT teacher in a Kouvola Region Vocational College and also helping with the IGDA operations in Kymenlaakso area.
We also asked that what would be your message for somebody who would be looking into getting into the game industry and how could volunteer work help in getting the foot into the door? Joni points out two things: first, volunteering is a great way of getting to know people and companies in the industry and by that way you can get important and beneficial connections. Secondly, he states that yes, volunteering is giving, you give your time and effort (generally for free) but you will also get a lot of experience, knowledge and experience that can be very useful for your cv and also many companies and organizations regards volunteer work as valid work experience as paid work would be. That’s why volunteering is great way for example students to get experience and sneak peek into the industry insights!
Joni is now in teachers vocational training period with PHZ Game Studios (makers of the Siege Castle, Castle Wars and Dog Planes games) He also continues with IGDA Kotka Hub and teaching in the Vocational College in Kouvola.