Left Arrow News

IGDA Appoints New Executive Director

18 May 2022

Adds Three Members to 2022 Board of Directors and Selects Board Officers


TORONTO – May 12, 2022 – The International Game Developers Association (IGDA), the world’s largest organization serving individuals who create games, has appointed Dr. Jakin Vela as the new Executive Director to succeed Renee Gittins, who stepped down in January 2022 and rejoined the Board of Directors. New members of the Board include Rami Ismail, Guy “Yug” Blomberg, and Tarja Porkka-Kontturi.

Prior to his appointment, Vela served as the Interim Executive Director, as well as the Manager of Global Development, where he focused his efforts on creating stronger channels of communication and collaboration across IGDA communities around the world. He also led the revamping of the Global Mentorship Program, which includes the launch of IGDA’s newly implemented mentorship platform powered by PeopleGrove. 

Vela brings over a decade of professional experience to his new role, founding Games For Me, a Texas-based non-profit organization focused on researching the social impact games have on society. Vela will retain his roles as CEO of Astral Interactive LLC and Principal Advisor of MagiTech Management Solutions LLC. Vela earned his doctorate in Sociology, where his research focused on games and the games industry, emphasizing the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness.

As Executive Director, Vela’s priorities include strengthening IGDA’s support systems for global game development communities, especially those with emerging markets and game development ecosystems, by securing greater benefits to members, building strategic partnerships with regional and national associations and organizations across the globe, localizing more IGDA resources for broader access, and cultivating a stronger sense of solidarity among the organization’s international membership.

“To work in games is to work in a global industry, no matter where you are. As the largest organization that supports individual game developers, we must ensure we’re building and sustaining a sturdy and inclusive bridge between our communities’ local region and the global industry at large,” said Vela. “The power of a global network is limitless. In my time with the IGDA, I have seen how communities support one another through speaking engagements, sharing best practices, connecting one another to new opportunities that can help progress developers and their local games ecosystem. This is a relationship-based industry at its core, and when operating from a position of global solidarity and connectedness, game developers can reach new heights.”

In other news, the IGDA Board re-appointed Natasha Skult as Chair of the Board for the 2022 – 2023 term. “Dr. Vela has the Board’s full confidence and support. We were very impressed with his work in his time as Manager and Interim Director, and we’re excited to see his leadership in the organization’s next chapter,” Skult said. With Christopher Hamilton, Sylvia Cristina Amaya and Zoe Bell each stepping down from their roles on the board, Renee Gittins will assume the role of Vice Chair, and Tim Cullings as Treasurer.

Additionally, the IGDA welcomes newly appointed members, Rami Ismail and Guy Blomberg, as well as newly elected member, Tarja Porkka-Kontturi.

Rami Ismail is a Dutch-Egyptian independent games & tool developer with over 20 titles across PC, console, web, and mobile. The co-founder of the influential now-retired indie games studio Vlambeer, Rami worked on award-winning and genre-defining games such as Ridiculous Fishing and Nuclear Throne. His development of tools like the industry-standard dopresskit.com, his prolific and popular public speaking, and highly-regarded consultancy and insights have helped shape industry opportunities for game communities & independent game developers worldwide.

Guy ‘Yug’ Blomberg has been working in games for over 20 years, overseeing global teams and building million-dollar commercial strategies. Previously the Global Gaming Content Director for Reedpop where he implemented strategy and content for PAX (USA and Australia), EGX (UK andGermany), GamesIndustry.biz, and launched events in France, Korea, and China. He is currently the Studio Director at RiffRaff Games, VP of Business Development at StridePR, Director of Events at Game Jolt, and Founder of the Games Industry Gathering, alongside advising various games industry groups.

Working as Director of Communications at Global Game Jam and Business Development Manager at TIGS.ca, Tarja Porkka-Kontturi is a games, toys, and tech PR and marketing expert at PR Nordic, and Senior Account Manager at Games Branding. Embracing empathetic leadership, she also volunteers as Vice President at We in Games Finland, and serves as a mentor at IGDA and Women in Games.


About the International Game Developers Association (IGDA®)

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is the world’s largest nonprofit membership organization serving all individuals who create games. The mission of the IGDA is to support and empower game developers around the world in achieving fulfilling and sustainable careers.

As an international organization, the IGDA is a San Francisco, CA.-based 501(c)6 non-profit professional association and a global network of collaborative projects and communities of individuals from all fields of game development – including programmers and producers, designers and artists, as well as writers, business people, QA team members, localization experts, and everyone else who participates in any way in the game development process. The IGDA brings together developers at key industry conferences, and in over 150 Chapters and Special Interest Groups (SIGs), to improve their lives and their craft.

For more info, please visit www.igda.org.


Media Contacts

Stride PR for IGDA 


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