Episode 57

Accessibility in Gaming & Living in Finland with a Disability

Matt speaks with Licia Prehn, who works in the gaming industry, as a producer, voice actor, and writer in Finland. They are also a board member of We in Games, a podcaster, a radio DJ, and one of the leading accessibility advocates in Finland.

Licia moved to Finland about 10 years ago from Pennsylvania for love and a change of scenery. When the relationship did not work out, Licia decided to stay in Finland. They enrolled in a full-time Finnish language course and put down roots.

Licia began a job in 3D animation at Nopia Oy, where they worked for five years. They later worked at Next Games in player experience and became a board member at We in Games.

The game industry in Finland is unique, Licia explained, especially in mobile games. The industry is made up of a diverse, tight-knit community that feels like home. In addition to the technical work they do in the gaming industry, Licia also provides accessibility consultation to companies looking to improve gameplay experience for gamers with disabilities.

Licia, who is legally blind, appreciates attitudes towards disability in Finland compared to those they experienced in the US. In general, they explained, Finnish society appreciates people for their skills rather than distrusting or making assumptions about disability.

“In Finland, people realize that it’s not about an unfair advantage,” they said. “It’s about making things equal and fair for everybody.”

Licia is happiest when they positively impact others in the gaming community. They love it when people tell them that their talks changed the way they think about color blindness, for example, or that their lecture convinced a product manager to improve a game’s accessibility. They hope that their work continues to make gaming experiences better for everybody.

In addition to their work in the game industry, Licia also makes and performs dance music. In Finland, they met other people who shared their love for the genre. They have been able to record and perform music with artists they love.

“I’ve always been a punk, actually.” they said. “But I’ve always had this silly side of me that loves just the cheesiest Eurodance.”

And if you thought Licia couldn’t fit anything else into their busy schedule, you would be wrong. They also host a weekly radio show called Estonian Music Hour on Finest FM. It is the world’s only English language show about Estonian music. On the show, Licia chats and plays their favorite Estonian tunes. Although they occasionally host interviews with artists and other music professionals, coronavirus restrictions and Estonians’ shyness makes them rare.

You can also find Licia advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in Finland. They are non-binary, and they came out as bisexual at age 14. They experienced extreme hostility and aggression growing up queer in the US, although they acknowledge that attitudes seem to be evolving in the states.

“I definitely feel like I have to watch who I am around people,” they said. “When you are non-binary or just queer in general, you kind of learn very early on to pick your battles.”

In Finland, they said, their experience has been more neutral. They see Finland as a place where it is safe to explore gender and sexuality. People might not always understand you, they said, but at least they will leave you be. Licia will be speaking about their experiences on a panel hosted by Helsinki Pride and We in Games during Pride Week on June 28.

Listen in to hear MC Licia rap on Rama’s re-release of “Light My Fire” and to hear about their path to Finnish citizenship. Be sure to check the links below to learn more about Licia or to get in touch!


Licia Prehn on twitter