Kickoff Meetup: Why Finland Is Great For a Career in Game Development
At the recent Kickoff Meetup at ITMO University, game developers discussed the prospects of employment at one of Finland’s five game development studios. The event was timed to coincide with the Games Job Fair that gathers the best representatives of Finland’s gaming industry. On November 25 the country’s leaders in the field - Supercell, Dodreams Studio, Yousician, Housemarque and Unity Helsinki - will present their studios and speak about the positions they offer. So, while you’re thinking about which of them can you apply for, Oleg Paliy, who’s worked in Finland in the app development field for some seven years, speaks about the peculiarities of living and working in Finland.
Kickoff Meetup, Job Fair and what they are about
Kickoff Meetup is an event organized by the GameBeets community with support from Finnish Game Day. It is conducted prior to Games Job Fair, where Russian game developers get a real chance to find employment with the leading Finnish game development studios. This year, Supercell, Dodreams Studio, Yousician, Housemarque and Unity Helsinki will take part in the event - their representatives will speak about the open positions, explain what one has to do to become part of a team and conduct job interviews right on the spot. The organizers note that, as of now, the Finnish game development market is amongst the most promising and rapidly developing ones, with a turnover exceeding 2.5 billion Euros a year, and is interested in attracting specialists from other countries.
The event will also feature lectures and a workshop on getting employed by a major international company. The expert will expand on common mistakes that hinder the candidates on the HR stage.
Why Finland is so great for game development
Many leading game development companies, from small studios to such major ones as Supercell and Wargaming are headquartered in Finland. This largely has to do with Finland’s history, and the Nokia company in particular. Some time back, being a leader in the cellphone market, Nokia released Nokia N-Gage - the first gaming smartphone. At that time, there was no established game development tradition, so Nokia launched a program that encouraged different teams and companies to develop games for it. After the program was closed, these teams continued developing games for other platforms. Coincidentally, this was around the time iPhone entered the market.
The gaming industry in Finland develops at a fast pace. Some 20 of the country’s universities train specialists in the field of game development, and one even offers programs on top-management in the game development industry (namely Metropolia University of Applied Sciences). The government, too, actively supports game developers, and their community is very open to new ideas and participants. Each month, they host major events where they share experience and practices with each other.
Living and working in Finland
One has to understand that even though Finns are Europeans, being cut off from the mainland by sea made them develop their own culture. In Finland, you’ll rarely deal with strict hierarchical systems, as they are present only in very large companies. Most developers work as teams united by a common idea. They have a team lead who supervises the project, but no middle management; most developers work in open clusters.
If you have some agreement, Finns will definitely do their part, and do it on time. They greatly value their time, so they mostly work from 9am to 5pm; if you fail to solve some issue during the workday, it’ll have to wait till next one - Finns don’t like working overtime. Also, they are really fond of long-term planning; companies plan for two or three years ahead, and major companies can plan for even longer terms.
Kickoff Meetup at ITMO University
Education is free in Finland; one can combine work with studying. As opposed to Russia, military service and the educational system never intersect - one can study or do military service when they see fit.
Finland is a great place to get some international experience if you’re planning to work in game development - as of now, about 20% of specialists come from other countries. It is not far away from Russia, which is great, yet it is like a different world with different approaches and business culture. Finnish corporate culture is definitely something you should pay attention to. In an office, everyone speaks English, even if it is their compatriots they are talking with. If you want to start your developer career in Finland, an intermediate level of English is enough, given you can read and code easily.
Kickoff Meetup at ITMO University
Your diplomas are not really important. There are companies and teams where none of the developers have proper education, as it is the actual skills they value most. So, there’s no need for a formal CV - Finns don’t focus on formalities. Let your CV reflect your strong points, and make it short. You may also attach a letter of motivation; showing the potential employer that you know of their work and the studio’s history can be an advantage.
Taxation in Finland is different, as well. The more you earn, the more taxes you pay. Yet, you can still waive a lot if you have a family or it is hard for you to get to your workplace.