WHU@gamescom 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet and WHU alumnus Tobias Haar open the gamescom trade fair

Photo: gamescom

If some still suspected that games and gamification were nothing but a niche topic, these reservations must have evaporated no later than the visit by the German chancellor to this year’s gamescom fair. Digital games have long since become a fixture in all areas of life, and particularly in the area of “serious gaming”, they present innovative solutions for lots of questions of social relevance. So the event, which was held August 22-26, 2017, in Cologne, again offered the perfect conditions for a series of events in life-long learning and executive education, organized by the WHU Foundation and the WHU Wipro Center for Business Resilience, in cooperation with the German Games Industry Association (BIU).

The visit, and this year’s opening remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were tantamount to an accolade of the industry and unmistakably underscored the relevance of the gaming industry for politics and the business community. In addition to current issues such as youth and privacy protection laws, digitalization and broadband expansion, the chancellor raised the associations’ hopes for the long-awaited promotion of culture at the federal level when she clarified: “Computer and video games are of the utmost importance as cultural assets, as a driving force for innovation and as an economic factor.” The WHU alumni network was particularly visible this year: BIU Executive Board member Tobias Haar (EMBA 2016) had the honor of welcoming the chancellor to gamescom. “Dr. Merkel’s visit, and her remarks in particular, emphatically underscore the great importance of computer and video games for the digital and business location of Germany. Now the aim must be to improve the framework conditions for the games industry in this country so games from Germany can become an export hit, too,” he then explained.

With the “Executives&Kids@gamescom” format, over the course of three days, WHU again offered more than 70 executives an opportunity to gain a personal impression of the dynamics of the games industry, and to discuss the transferability of gamification with leading representatives of the industry. The opportunity to learn from the most obvious mentors and experts there are – their own children, trainees or student workers of the executives – was an integral part of the visit to gamescom. Participants were recruited from the WHU Friends &
Family Network, from the WHU Alumni Association, from among other graduates of the WHU CIO Leadership Excellence Program, and from among WHU Executive Education Alumni.

An own event was dedicated not only to executives from the business community but also to those from the non-profit sector. As in the year prior, the “Foundations@gamescom” format developed jointly by the WHU Foundation, the Haniel Foundation and the Foundation for the Culture of Digital Games (Stiftung Digitale Spielekultur) built a bridge struck between the third sector and the games industry. The focus was on the question: “How can nonprofits use digitalization and gamification for their mission/the purpose of their foundation, and for more impact?”. Following the welcome by BIU Managing Director Felix Falk and Peter Tscherne of Stiftung Digitale Spielekultur, a workshop with Odile Limpach and Jean Michel Blottiere offered an insight into how the “Gamesforchange” initiative develops and implements specific projects in this field in the USA and France. Input conversations with Jens Kosche and Martin Lorber of Electronic Arts, Maxi Gräff of Microsoft, Ralf Reichert of ESL and Benedikt Grindel of Ubisoft Blue Byte rounded off the workshop experience and offered participants exclusive insights and an opportunity for further personal interaction. Dr. Peter Kreutter of the WHU Foundation drew a positive conclusion. “As both the conversations and the initial results of our study on the digitalization of social organizations show, the nonprofit sector can take a major step forward through digitalization and gamification.”

With an innovative “campaign arena,” this year’s gamescom congress, the content of which was once again supported by WHU, also confirmed the considerable social significance of the gaming industry, which does some three billion euros in business annually. CDU Secretary General Peter Tauber; SPD Secretary General Hubertus Heil; FDP Secretary General Nicola Beer; the Federal Whip of Die Linke, Matthias Höhn; and Michael Kellner, Federal Whip of the Greens all responded to questions put to them by YouTubers Peter Smits (Piet Smiet), Florian Mundt (LeFloid) and Colin Gäbel (Rocket Beans). The topics discussed included digital policy, the use of digital media in education, as well as the framework conditions that apply to the games industry and the recognition of eSports as an (Olympic) discipline.

gamescom is held annually in Cologne, Germany; with 350,000 visitors from 106 countries and 919 companies on hand over a period of five days, this year’s event broke several records at the same time. With 30,700 trade visitors, it is considered to be Europe’s most important business platform for the gaming industry. Preparations for WHU@gamescom 2018 are already in full swing. 

Photo: gamescom

Photo: Stefanie Hergenröder

Photo: Stefanie Hergenröder

Photo: Stefanie Hergenröder

Photo: Stefanie Hergenröder