Ask anyone at Rovio and they’ll tell you – our people are awesome. Rovio is brimming with knowledgeable and talented mobile gaming professionals working in all disciplines of mobile game production, who come from over 50 nationalities. We’re going to be chatting with a different Rovian every week in an interview series to get a glimpse of their life at Rovio.
Today we’re chatting with senior data analyst Hazel Kavılı. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in statistics, Hazel trained her statistical mind on games beginning in 2017. Following her career to Finland, Hazel worked for Seriously before finally landing at Rovio where she is currently a member of the Angry Birds Journey team. She enjoys working closely with game teams, finding insights in player data to assist teams in shaping the player experience. Learn a bit more about Hazel below.
What do you do?
I am working as a senior data analyst in Rovio. I like to say that what we do as data analysts is enhancing the gameplay experience for players, and helping games grow. We focus on providing meaningful insights to game teams to unlock potential development areas by analysing like gigabytes of data every day.
What are you working on right now?
I’m part of the Angry Birds Journey team. Basically, we are trying to make Angry Birds Journey even more fun for players by changing and testing various things in the game. We do a lot of A/B testing. For example, right now we’re running tests to make sure that players are not getting too discouraged so they can play through to the checkpoints in the game.
We want to decrease the amount of ‘meaningless losses’ players experience, so that they will still be motivated. It’s important for players to feel like they are progressing so they’re more likely to play longer and have a more satisfying experience while they are playing.
Can you give an example of an interesting insight that has come to light from analyzing player behavior?
When I was part of the Angry Birds Friends game, I was included in one of the discussions where we were planning to run a test about having different sized groups of players in the games’ competitive leagues. I suggested “what if we have really small groups in leagues”. Then we wanted to see how the number of competing players in a group would affect how engaged those players are. My colleague ran the analysis, and to me the findings were very interesting. The result was that players are more engaged when they’re put into smaller groups. As a player, if there are less players in my group, it feels more personal, and I’m more likely to play, whereas if I’m in a larger group, I might feel demotivated because I’m competing against so many more people. So it made sense to me.
How did you land at Rovio?
I first started working in gaming about five years ago. I was in Istanbul at the time, and I worked in a startup that was making word puzzle games. I remember my boss telling me that “you know the game industry is getting bigger and bigger and game analysts are always going to be needed. Maybe you can even work for Rovio someday”. A while later I moved to Finland to work at another company, but when I saw an opening for a data analyst position in games at Rovio, I applied and got the job.
Has your experience at Rovio been different from the other game companies you’ve worked for?
Everyone keeps saying that Rovio is all about the people. Besides the people, I would say that the willingness of sharing knowledge in a friendly way is the best thing I have experienced since I joined Rovio. I have never felt like I am just left alone when I am doing something. I have always felt that I belonged to a team and I think that is essential. Basically every game team I have worked with so far has provided me with that warm feeling.
Is there anything happening in the near future that you’re excited about?
I’m pretty excited for what is coming up in Angry Birds Journey. Now that I’m part of the Journey team, I’ve been playing more and more and I’m working very closely with it. The team is working on some changes that are going to affect especially how new players approach the game, but also refresh some of the game mechanics as well. It’s going to be interesting to see how players react.
What kind of games do you like?
I don’t play computer games, but I have tons of games on my phone because I like playing with other match 3 games to compare with our own games. I also have a Nintendo Switch, and I like to play party games with my friends from time to time. I also like playing single player games, Return to Monkey Island is the last one I’ve been playing on the Switch.
What do you do outside of games? Any hobbies?
I like dancing. I’ve been doing Lindy Hop dancing for about three and a half years. So I take courses regularly and I go social dancing every Tuesday evening to see some friends and practice and have fun..
I also like playing the ukulele and singing. I don’t know if I’m any good, but I like to do it. (laughs)
I also run an organization called R-Ladies Helsinki. Basically, what we do is teaching underrepresented minorities in this industry statistics and how to code, these kinds of topics. I started running the Istanbul chapter maybe five years ago, and when I moved to Helsinki, one of the founders of the Helsinki chapter stepped down so I stepped in to keep it going. COVID had a big impact on our ability to meet up, but now we’re able to do more in-person events. We have an event at Rovio coming up very soon, and another one at Supercell two weeks after that. We have workshops where we do more hands-on exercises, and we also invite speakers to share what they do in their daily work and provide some case studies to get people excited about this kind of work. We are hoping to have another event on International Women’s Day in March.