Covid & Games (Panel)

13th December 2021
15:00 -17:00 (EET) / 13:00 – 15:00 (UTC)

In March 2020, the COVID-19 was announced as a global pandemic and the global value change came to a temporary halt. While many commercial sectors struggled, the video game industry remained profitable – as anyone could play games at home. However, a transition from face-to-face practices to fully distant mode was a struggle for many. Investors and client work halted and the roles of the production teams shifted, conferences were canceled and social knowledge exchange was decreased. Not everyone survived. How did the ecosystem cope with COVID-19 time and what will happen in the post-pandemic world?

Heini Kaihu, Senior Vice President (SVP)  & Head of HR, Rovio

Heini Kaihu is a game industry veteran who started her career with games as early as 2005 working with Sulake´ s Habbo Hotel. In 2012 Heini moved to Rovio, and has been working as a Head of Studio most recently as SVP Human Resources, turning the company strategy into people, organisation and culture strategies, programs and initiatives, with an ambition to make Rovio the best place to work for game development professionals. Recently, Heini was appointed to be the Chief Sustainability Officer, and in her new role she will be driving sustainability, how the organization best creates value for itself, employees and stakeholders in a responsible way, and what impact it has on the surrounding world, with a dream to improve the industry´s take on these topical issues at Rovio and beyond – now as well as in the post-pandemic world.

Jaakko Kemppainen, Regional Artist of Games as art (pelitaiteen läänintaiteilija), The Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike)

Jaakko Kemppainen has almost 20 years of experience as a game professional in various roles. Jaakko has been a game designer, teacher, researcher, author, and has taken several other ecosystem roles as well. Jaakko has published over 20 games, from board games to VR, and from massive strategy games to casual trivia. For instance, he worked in the VR-driven game P.O.L.L.E.N. and was part of the quirky history of text message games in his early career. Currently Jaakko is working as the first regional artist in games for the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, with a hunger of making games as an artform more visible and mature. Jaakko is also Aalto University game design and production graduate and founder of Games Now! lecture series.

Chris James, CEO, Steel Media (Pocket Gamer)

Chris James has been working on the media and events side of the games industry for almost 25 years and founded Steel Media (publishers of, PocketGamer.Biz, PG Connects, the Big Indie Pitch, etc) around 15 years ago. He still has a huge passion for the space, is excited by new technologies and opportunities and generally loves to help unleash potential by bringing great people together. He also absolutely loves Finland and the games scene. During the pandemic, Chris has led almost ten fully digital game conferences and various other events gaining massive experience in distant networking and industry support during the challenging times of COVID-19.

Petri Ikonen, Senior Creative Director, EA Helsinki

Petri Ikonen is a Senior Creative Director at Tracktwenty, EA’s mobile game studio in Helsinki, Finland. The studio’s first title, SimCity BuildIt, was released in December 2014. Petri is a game designer and producer with more than eighteen years of experience in the games industry. As a designer, Petri is focused on player centric design, F2P and games as a service model. Petri started his career as a game designer at mobile game company Sumea (later Digital Chocolate) in 2003. After almost a decade at Digital Chocolate, Petri took his leadership experiences to the test in forming the EA tracktwenty studio in Helsinki in 2012. Before his life with games, Petri worked in drama. For instance, he acted as a scriptwriter for a very popular Finnish serial drama Salatut Elämät for many years with credits for over 650 episodes. During the COVID-19, Petri has led the studio of over 60 creative people in full distance mode.