More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft
More initiatives of the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft

Games Lift 2021 - New and Improved

After our first Games Lift Incubator 2020 was a success, we worked on the program for the new Games Lift teams 2021. Find out what is new and what improved in our Incubator Log #3

In its first outing last year, Games Lift Incubator was a success. That’s why it returns with all key elements intact. But there’s always something to improve, or as we in the business like to say: Evaluation breeds elevation. We may not actually say that. But here is what Gamecity’s project lead Dennis Schoubye and project manager Margarete Schneider had to say.

Dennis Schoubye and Margarete Schneider from Gamecity Hamburg

Margarete Schneider is grateful for last year. The first Games Lift Incubator was an ambitious project, and it worked well. This was not just due to good planning. One key aspect lies in the hand of others: The teams were “amazing”, she smiles. “They were helping each other, really bringing life into the Incubator.”

The five teams of last year’s incubator left a lasting impression, and they remain closely tied to Gamecity Hamburg. A good example is Ole Jürgensen’s VR project Crumbling, which successfully applied for prototype funding. “His application really demonstrated what he has learned during the Incubator”, Schneider says. Dennis Schoubye agrees: “Seeing how teams incorporate the advice of our mentors is always a highlight for me.”

The Incubator functions as a safe space in which even fundamental questions about a project’s direction have a place. That way, teams can digest and incorporate constructive feedback before they showcase their game.

New teams, new topics

The Games Lift Incubator certainly doesn’t look like a broken program in need of any fixing. But the motor of change is running already: Our new teams have arrived, each with their own challenges and goals. Compared to last year, the mix is different.

Some workshops have to change, accordingly. Not too many, though: Schneider describes the program as a framework in which many parts can stay. Deciding on the specifics is a process between the organizers and the teams. They brought important feedback when it comes to finding the right speakers. Of course it is important to bring big names into the network. But the teams also enjoyed talking to smaller indie developers, Schneider explains. “For them, it was inspiring to hear from people in similar situations about how they processed setbacks and got back up again.”

Some business-related workshops stay relevant. But in some areas, the individual needs are wildly different from team to team. To accommodate this, two additions were made during last year’s program. This year, they return from the get-go: One is the availability of “individual follow-up coaching” in the 12 months after the graduation pitch, the other is a time budget with a PR agency specialising in indie games. Schoubye puts an emphasis on keeping in contact with the teams when the workshops are done. He wants to help the teams make their next big step; and three months may not be enough time for that.

Let’s keep in touch

Networking is an important part of Games Lift

Making sure there is an ongoing informal exchange is central to Schoubyes mission: “For us, networking is just as important as for our Games Lift teams.” He is delighted about the lively discussions on Gamecity’s Discord, about the way the teams just mingle. His ultimate goal is to keep the Games Lift alumni connected to Gamecity as new mentors, feeding their knowledge back into the network.

COVID forced Gamecity to hold main parts of the incubator remotely. The virtual format does have some benefits; it is freeing up valuable time and it will remain a necessity for some of our international speakers. But everyone is looking forward to more meet-ups in person. Schneider and Schoubye want to “keep encouraging” the teams to connect with each other. And they also look forward to meeting teams and mentors themselves.

These benefits are important, but hard to calculate beforehand. Schneider tells the story of how during the first round of evaluation, teams clearly saw the financial funding as the Incubator’s most attractive part. She was happy to see other ratings catch up during its runtime. She and Schoubye strive to keep a good balance between the Incubator’s many services.

They aren’t alone in tackling the challenge. Project manager Daniel Hericks is helping to run the Incubator this time around. He is a new addition to Gamecity Hamburg’s team.

Games Lift Incubator is all about sustainable growth, not about startups making the biggest possible jump in the shortest amount of time. To make that as clear as possible, Schneider has changed the way she talks about the program’s duration: “It is three months of high intensity followed by twelve months of individual work”, she explains. And teams can expect to stay in a supportive network even after this time. Some things may always need to change – but Gamecity is in it for the long haul.


Pitch Level Up 2023: Boost your pitch with expert feedback!

After the successful premiere last year, the Pitch Level Up is back on April 13, 11 am - 6 pm: Get individual feedback on your pitch deck from seasoned games industry professionals with different perspectives - to optimize your pitch for publishers, media, investors or funding institutions.

3 years of Games Lift: Getting better with age

Three successful years lie behind the Games Lift Incubator. Before we start the fourth one, we take a look back. Our alumni have a lot to show.

Games Lift Incubator: Grown together

The graduation pitch has marked the finale of Games Lift Incubator 2022. All five teams got to present what they achieved in the last three months. Not an easy task – but everyone came well-prepared. The setting was relaxed, the presentations strong.

Games Lift: Team Marty aim outside the box

The heroine may seem young and hot-headed, but there is an experienced team standing behind her: Babsi Bullet is an action-packed puzzle platformer for touchscreens. Team Marty are pouring their hearts into the game – and real craftsmanship.

Games Lift: Team ACAS get along with nuts and sledgehammers

Few games look as disarming from a distance: About Cannons & Sparrows is a metroidvania that starts with a small cannon hatching from an inconspicuous egg. The seasoned animation pros of Team ACAS may not have a finished game yet, but they do have a strong vision.

Games Lift: Elin Meinecke on sowing diversity

One person is behind farming sim RPG Evergreen Garden: Elin Meinecke is solely responsible for the art and game design of her project. She brings a degree in illustration to her work in the incubator – and inspiration from her garden.

Games Lift: Team Metacore is up for a challenge

Their hands are full. Their goals are big. But that is no reason to fret for Team Metacore. During our conversation, finding good answers comes to them as easily as sharing a laugh. The mood might make it into their project.

Games Lift: People make the Incubator

The Games Lift Incubator can only exist because many experts support it, teach and coach in it, and keep networking in it. Over 35 veterans from all areas of the games industry are with us. We have asked them why they are doing it and what keeps them coming back.

Games Lift: Team Godcomplex have thought this through

Would you have guessed that Team Godcomplex are already working on their third game? The four young professionals found each other at the university and have worked together ever since. With their party action game Stack’em up, they want to show what they have learned.

Games Lift: Quick Start in Year 3

Wait – the third iteration of the Games Lift Incubator is already well underway. How is it going? Like clockwork. Bolstered by two years of experience, the program has had an intensive start. Fortunately, this time there also is a break coming up.

Games Lift 2022: These are the five teams

​​​​​​​Five teams have convinced the Games Lift awarding committee of the promising potential of their games projects with their pitch. They will start on September 12 with a three-month workshop and mentoring program with international industry experts, 15,000 euros in financial support and places in a Hamburg co-working space. Congratulation to all teams, and we are very much looking forward to seeing your projects evolve!

Games Lift: Good for you?

If things go well here, we like to keep them going. That is certainly the plan with our Games Lift Incubator. After two successful runs, preparations for the third are well underway. We are still open for teams with a strong vision and ambitious goals. But there’s only a few days left.

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