Friday, March 01, 2013

IGDA Finland: how to make your IGDA Chapter grow and flourish?

Aka how IGDA Finland grew from small group having random meetups to one of the most active IGDA Chapters in the world.

Population: 5.4M
Finnish game industry employs 2000 ppl
On average we have 230 visitors at the monthy IGDA Finland Gatherings! 

Image: IGDA Finland Gathering -- full house!

IGDA Finland got Most Valuable Player Award in 2007 and in 2012 President of the Republic of Finland awarded IGDA Finland with Internationalisation Award.
IGDA Finland became the first formalized IGDA Chapter outside North America.
Why? How?

We believe in the power of community. Finland is a small country and game industry is international by nature. Finnish game developers and open and willing to help others to succeed. The other motivation is location. IGDA Finland is far away from IGDA Central. Finnish IGDA members love their IGDA membership cards but they do not benefit that much from the membership. We wanted to make it more valuable to become a IGDA member.

What do we do?
-       IGDA Finland Gathering every month
-       IGDA Finland Presentation 3-5 times a year
- web site and discussion forum
-       IGDA Finland Facebook community
-       Twitter channel and hashtag #igdafi

Image: Igda Finland Volunteers have fancy IGDA Finland Hoodies.

IGDA Finland Gatherings
-       Benefits:
o   Discounted drinks to IGDA members
o   Potentially free garderobe
o   Potentially ‘IGDA VIP cue’ when very crowded event
-       IGDA Finland Gatherings are open to everyone – IGDA members get additional benefits
-       We send the first invite 2 weeks before the event and reminder 3-4 days before the event
-       Hint! Regular meetups are the key – sponsored drinks draw more participants but it is already enough just to organize the events, invite people early enough and keep the Gatherings cosy and informal

IGDA Finland Presentations
-       Benefits:
o   Free of charge
o   Better seats for IGDA members
o   Potentially an invitation to ‘Meet the speakers’ events
-       IGDA Finland Presentation are open to everyone – IGDA members will get additional benefits
-       The presentations are organized in an auditorium with good AV equipment
-    Live streams (and recordings at YouTube)
-       Hint! It is good to provide events with different profiles as it attracts broader group of people. Broader audience means better visibility and reaching people who cannot or wouldn’t come to the pub.

Image: Our famous Door Duty system - fast and easy way to register visitors and follow the numbers year over year.

Our team and the tools:
-       We have a team of Coordinators (6-7) who are responsible of different areas: lead, volunteers, events, communication, technical support and graphical design, photography
-       We have a pool of Volunteers who help us with the event organizing
o   Volunteers are typically students who want to get into the business
o   we offer IGDA Finland Hoodies to all Volunteers
o   We offer good possibility for the Volunteers to meet people working in the industry. They will be greeting all Gathering goers at the door and registering the visitors
o   We organize special events to the Volunteers (get together, studio visits, occasional invitations to industry events)
-       Tools:
o   Skype, email groups and online documentation to help the planning of events
o   Digital door duty system, developed by our tech wizard to easily register visitors, keep statistics and update new visitors to the system automatically
o   Roll up to promote IGDA Affiliate Studios and Industry Partners
-       As a legalized entity, IGDA Finland can better serve local IGDA members
-    Very well known and respected game industry veterans, our partner associations Neogames Finland and Pelikehittäjät - Game Developers associations and Finnish game studios (Remedy Games, Housemarque, Rovio, Supercell and others) are committed to help IGDA Finland and local Finnish game developer community to grow

Image: We organize special get together to our volunteers, this photo is from IGDA Finland Picnic 2011.

-       We publish After Action Reports (AAR) after every event to show and tell what you are missing out. We share the number of attendees, highlights, sponsor greeting and photos from the event
-       We also publish stories about local developers and local game development hubs in Finland
-       Additional tools:
o – game industry specific jobs boards
o   Forum – discussion forum for general and local topics
o   Photos section: people love to see photos from the events
-       The web site also works as a communication channel towards game developers who cannot join the IGDA Finland Gathering

We collaborate with Assembly (one of the largest computer / demo parties in the world), Helsinki Youth Department (Happi Game House, game development clubs), Global Game Jam organization and other partners. With the collaboration we want to support game jamming and game development clubs for the youth.

Image: Mentoring Network for Women: artists, designers, managers and programmers.

Mentoring Network for Women
-       The mission is to make game industry more appealing and transparent to women who have not yet worked in games industry
-       Women's mentoring network founded in 2011
-       IGDA Finland supported activity but run by a group of women working for various Finnish game studios
-       The mentoring network also works as a way to connect with other women working in the industry
-       We arrange get together events on demand
-       We have active Facebook group to keep the community live
o   One common group
o   Separate sub-groups to Finnish Game Artists, Programmers and Designers

Image: site to help Finnish game studios to find best possible people.

Photos: Joona Pulliainen / IGDA Finland

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