Meet the Speakers

Recordings of the talks and panel discussions, along with the written proceedings will be available in our LIBRARY in early 2023

Dr. Jakin Vela / IGDA

Dr. Jakin Vela is a sociologist and researcher, his work highlights the effects of marginalization, group solidarity, and inclusion in virtual gaming spaces and organizational structures, especially among underrepresented groups. He integrates his professional background in law, non-profit leadership, film production, entrepreneurship, and higher education to support the professional and career development of others.

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Working as Director of Communications at Global Game Jam and Business Development Manager at TIGS, Tarja Porkka-Kontturi is a Senior Account Manager and games industry PR Specialist at Games Branding. Embracing empathetic leadership, she also volunteers at IGDA and as Vice President at We in Games Finland. As Advisor and Consultant, she will always speak for diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility matters.

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Camilla Avellar / Supercell

Camilla is a Brazilian game designer with 15+ years of experience in casual games. She has been at Supercell since 2013, having spent 7 years as designer for Hay Day, currently on an unannounced game.

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Taha is co-founder and game development coach at Ava Games, one of Iran's leading investment and publishing companies. with the purpose of helping, supporting and empowering local indie game developers to enter domestic and global markets. As IGDA Iran's Chapter leader, Taha's goal has always been supporting game developers and giving back to the community as much as he can. In 2018 he was chosen as one of IGDA Foundation's Next Generation Leaders and now is a board member of IGDA org and Foundation.

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Ari Arnbjörnsson / Epic Games

Ari Arnbjörnsson is an Unreal Engine Evangelist at Epic Games. He has 15 years of varied games industry experience ranging from social, web and mobile games to console games. His latest work before joining Epic Games was as a lead programmer on Housemarque’s BAFTA-winning Returnal for PlayStation 5.

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Julia Rässa / Finnish Game Jam

Julia Rässa is a former Junior Level Designer at Rovio, a Bachelor in Game Design. Worked at Virtual Air Guitar Company, Limestone Games, collaborated with Lizard Hazard Games and most notably released LoveBug - a parody dating sim about game jams. She joined FGJ in 2019 as the Code of Conduct Team Lead, and joined Finnish game industry's Task Force as a representative of FGJ in 2020.

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Taina Myöhänen / We in Games Finland

Taina Myöhänen is the president of We in Games, an organisation that strengthens the diversity and inclusivity of the game industry. Myöhänen has worked in the game industry since 2006 in management positions in several companies, and as a researcher at Tampere University’s Game Research Lab. Myöhänen’s doctoral thesis in the making is about the diversity of the game industry.

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Aki Kanerva /  Virtual Air Guitar

Aki Kanerva is a Finnish veteran indie developer and mentor. Since founding Virtual Air Guitar Company in 2006, he’s been wearing all the hats and shipped 15 console games. Today he shares his experience through mentoring at LGIN and IGDA.

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Prof. Thiep N. Pham / the Kutztown University

Prof. Thiep N. Pham is an assistant professor of Computer Science and Information Technology. He is the advisor for the Kutztown University Chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and the Kutztown University Esports team.

He received his MS in Systems Management at Florida Institute of Technology and is currently pursuing his doctorate in Educational Leadership at
Alvernia University researching in the new field of Ludology.

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Jawharah is the CEO and founder of Nomadroid Studio, based in Saudi Arabia. Originally a graphic designer, but my love for character design and our culture gave me a push to pursue and reflect that through video games. As a first time founder that's just starting out with almost zero knowledge in tech or business, I'd like to share my ups and downs and encourage those who wish to get into the industry.

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Elizaveta Petruchuk / Seepia Playables

CEO of Seepia Playables, FGJ Board Member, IGDA Volunteer, Art/Handcraft/Chess teacher or animator for kids, or just an ambitious unicorn. Following the principle of "mind your dream and dream your mind". Nowadays, my focus is mainly on managing and scaling the company at the stage of growth. I am passionate about people, games, and future opportunities. People create opportunities while games bring joy and creativity into the world.

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Daniel Fischer / Fingersoft

Producer at Fingersoft. Has worn quite a few hats over his years and witnessed the growth and climb of the company from 30 people to over 100. Current board member of Suomen Pelinkehittäjät and former board member of IGDA Finland.

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Chris Solarski / SAE Institute Switzerland

The unusual mix of game art and classical art eventually resulted in Chris authoring 'Interactive Empathy and Embodiment' (IEE)—a sensory design methodology that adapts traditional craft to interactive media with the aim of heightening kinaesthetic empathy and embodiment. Chris' work has been described as gaming’s equivalent to Robert McKee’s screenwriting classic, Story, and Joseph Campbell’s universal storytelling structure. 

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Marjaana Auranen / Red Stage Entertainment

Marjaana Auranen (Eira-Teresá Joret Mariánná)is a Co-founder, Narrative
designer and Mini Boss at Red Stage Entertainment, an Indie Game Company located in Tampere, Finland.

Her latest work is Skábma - Snowfall, an adventure game inspired by Sámi stories and culture. As a Sámi herself she has a not-so-hidden agenda to make video games more diverse.

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Elodie Meste / YAHAHA

Elodie is the Social Media Specialist at YAHAHA, a brand-new no-code 3D game-creation platform. She started working as a communication professional in the games industry after an impromptu career in finance. She moved to Finland for the korvapuustit and the weather, having grown up in the Southwest of France, with lots of sun.

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Dr. Luke Dicken / Zynga

Dr. Luke Dicken is Senior Director of Applied Artificial Intelligence at Zynga Inc where he leads a team driving innovation at the intersection of AI, Analytics, Game Development and Computational Creativity. He lives in Napa California, where he is cultivating a newfound appreciation for the mythical “work/life balance” after serving over ten years in various capacities within the International Game Developers Association, mostly recently as Chair of the IGDA Foundation.

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Matt Bond/ Ubisoft RedLynx

Matt is a lead programmer at Ubisoft RedLynx, working on mobile projects like South Park and more recently, Rainbow Six Mobile. He likes making (and playing!) games.

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Patty Toledo / 4Players

Patty Toledo is the Marketing Director at 4Players, where metaverse-ready, cross-platform, safe, and interactive experiences are created. Real-time communication is essential for a fun, immersive gaming experience and player retention. 4Players is on a mission to create powerful tools for integrated voice and video chat, making games more immersive, social and interactive. With a cutting-edge voice chat tool, 3D spatial audio and a global server network, 4Players is at the forefront of the next generation of gaming. 

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Laura Piispanen / Aalto University

Laura Piispanen, doctoral candidate at Aalto University, studying the intersection of quantum physics, art and games at the departments of Applied Physics and Computer Science.

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André Schenini Moreira / FMA

Lawyer, managing partner at FMA.legal, focused on consultancy/transactions and litigation matters relating to Games and Esports industries. With a distinguished background in Intellectual Property, Business Contracts, Entertainment and Corporate Law, André is known for assisting game devs, studios and publishers in deals in the games market.   

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Jonathan Biz Medina / Zoan

Originally from Brazil and with a bachelor degree in Game Design, Jonathan has developed more than 165 digital art, history and XR projects using the videogames technology for the past 10 years. Currently is one of the Partners and the Senior Producer at ZOAN, where he has managed B2B projects for over 50 different companies and institutions in Finland, including the awarded Virtual Helsinki and most recently Turku 1827, a virtual reconstruction of Finland's previous capital in UE5.

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Chride Lassheikki, Narrative Designer

Chride Lassheikki is a game and narrative designer who has worked on F2P mobile titles such as Merge Friends at Skunkworks Games, and in game design research at Aalto University. Outside work, you’ll find them doing archery, singing, and tending to their tomato plants. They’re also a game jam enthusiast and organizer in Finnish Game Jam and the Pride Game Jam, as well as a volunteer in the IGDA Game Writing SIG.

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Licia Prehn / Next Games

Licia Prehn is a blind, non-binary PX Specialist and accessibility advocate from Finland. They have held various roles in the Finnish game industry over the last six years, but currently do Player Experience at Next Games.

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Ori Kagan / Kagan Productions

Ori Kagan is an animator and storyteller. He runs Kagan Productions, an Israel based animation studio which specializes in creating immersive trailers and videos for board games and crowdfunding projects. Having worked on over 100 videos and 50 successful campaigns which have raised over $6.5 million in crowdfunding, we help our clients turn their games into premium cinematic hype machines!

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Anton Backman / Play Ventures

Working from Helsinki as Principal at Play Ventures, Anton supports the partners in deal sourcing, due diligence, and portfolio support. Before Play Ventures, he was the co-founder and CEO of Wave Ventures, the Nordics’ first student-run venture capital fund. He also co-managed investor operations at Slush and worked for a major Nordic law firm.

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Essi Jukkala / We In Games Finland

Essi Jukkala is a Lead Game Developer at Wondershop. She is a part of a team developing a new kind of game that combines community with physical and digital play, with a custom game controller. In addition to the daily work of a developer, Essi works on improving the diversity of the Finnish game industry as a board member of We in Games Finland.

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Florent Simon / Play Ventures

Florent is part of Play Ventures investment’s team, working on investment evaluation, due diligence and portfolio support. He was previously helping app developers and gaming studios find growth, first through his role in Google’s Mobile Gaming team and then as an independent consultant.

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David Zuratzi /  LATAM Game Jam

Game designer and producer. Loves horror movies and videogames. Full time, discordianism and Dada practitioner. In his free time works designing serious games and as part of the board of Layout-devhr and LATAM Game Jam.

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Syed Safeer Abbas Rizvi / Redhill Games

My name is Syed Safeer Abbas Rizvi, and I currently work as a Senior Environment Artist at Redhill Games. I've been in the gaming industry for over a decade and have worked on a variety of AAA titles, including Batman: Arkham Knight, Forza Horizon 3, Prey: Mooncrash, Control, and others. I enjoy doing overall environment art, but my favourite part is material creation and texturing.

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Jani Kahrama / Secret Exit

Jani is the Founder and CEO of Secret Exit, an indie game studio of no consequence. Over the years he has done 3D art and game design for titles few remember. Up until recently he has tried not to be a programmer, but failed.

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Jinesha Gandhi / Redhill Games

My name is Jinesha Gandhi, I currently work as a game producer at Redhill Games. I have been in the gaming industry for more than 9 years and have shipped several AAA titles. Making video games is my passion and a childhood dream come true.

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Anu Timmerbacka / Green Elephant

Anu is value-driven CEO and Conscious Communication Coach who keeps people on track with radical candour, humour, and pragmatic pragmatic “Sisu” - Finnish for grit and determination. Anu believes in transformation and change. Her passion is to build connections and bridges between people regardless of their
cultural backgrounds, gender and other diversity gaps. Anu loves working with mission-driven organisations that aim for social impact.

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Luis León / Narrative Designer

Graduated from a Game Design Degree and having already worked in multiple video games projects, he likes to specialize in narrative design. In his works, games like “The Gallery of Unfulfilled Dreams”, “The Wandering” or “Well, F*ck You Too” seek to explore the relationship between video games and literature. 

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Ghada Almoqbel / GCON

Ghada Almoqbel is the CEO of GCON, she works as well in Business Development at Nine66, a Savvy Games Group subsidiary.
She has 8 years of experience working in the games industry in business development, management, and marketing.
Furthermore, she was invited to represent the Saudi scene at GAIA (Game Arts International Assembly) in 2021, and was chosen to be one of “ GamesIndustry.biz" list of the 100 Game Changers around the world in 2021.

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Charlotta Tiuri / Frozenbyte

Charlotta Tiuri is the Art director at Frozenbyte working with the Trine puzzle-platforming fantasy game series. She has over 10 years of game industry experience specializing in game art for example leading the art team and creating 3D character art.

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Derek Distenfield / FG Ventures

Currently, Derek is the Managing Director of FG Ventures, the venture arm of Fundamental Global, which is a private partnership co-founded by investors Kyle Cerminara and Joe Moglia. Derek is also the president of the fledging incubator Digitial Ignition. Derek is a frequent keynote speaker, advisor, and mentor. Silicon Valley is home and he travels the world frequently to work with GSD’s portfolio companies.

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