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

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.

(Photo above: The five teams participating in the Games Lift Incubator 2022, together with the Gamecity Hamburg Team | Photo by Jan-Marius Komorek / Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft)

If it goes, it goes: Just two weeks after kick-off, the Games Lift Incubator - and the five new teams participating in this year’s program - have seen a first meet and greet, a check-in and no less than six workshops. These events are a main attraction of the program. In them, our team members get to look into a wide variety of topics and games industry knowledge. Epic Games veteran Heather Chandler has put project management on the schedule, industry expert Steffen Rühl has led the first of three pitch training sessions and Michael Schieben has again introduced Product Field, his method for business canvassing. Schieben has been with the program since its first iteration, but this time marked a premiere – for the first time, his complete workshop will be held in-person, with everyone in the same room. And we have more in-person events coming up this year.

Video conferences remain an important part of the Incubator, of course. We can save resources by letting international experts visit us via Zoom. Industry insiders like Simon Carless or Cassia Curran do not just appear on screen to give talks, they are also on hand to train and teach teams individually.

Kick-off event: The Gamecity Hamburg team shares the schedule and important info on the course of the incubator program with the five teams (Photo by Jan-Marius Komorek / Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft)

Take a breather

Working in a targeted and concentrated manner is an integral part of an incubator program. This makes it essential to look after the teams and offer support wherever necessary. Looking for ways to lighten the mood and minimize stress for the teams has been an important part of Gamecity’s mission throughout every iteration of the incubator. But this time, a new measure to reduce stress has been introduced, project manager Margarete Schneider explains: “There is a one-week break in the schedule.” The advantages are obvious. Schneider points to all the balls teams have to keep in the air. They are not just busy in the program and development of their project, they might have existing contract work to fulfill, or they might need a genuine break from work.

The timing of the break week is strategically important – in the run-up to the Milestone Pitch, the first time in the program teams are tasked with showing off their progress. Even for a well-prepared team, this situation can be stressful in and of itself.

Make a connection

And for teams that still have room for more, Gamecity Hamburg offers ample opportunities. Daniel Stehlik is part of team Godcomplex, developers of multiplayer party game Stack’em Up. He is especially happy about the networking support: “Connecting with a wide variety of people from the industry” is possible, he says. In his experience, making these connections can be hard when you are alone. At our kick-off event two weeks ago, the situation was different. Industry insiders and teams stood together chatting, enjoying snacks and cold drinks well into the evening.

The new Games Lift teams and the mentors connecting during the kick-off event in Hamburg's HafenCity (Photo by Jan-Marius Komorek / Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft)

Even award-winning creative professionals are impressed by the mood. Niko Tziopanos highlights the “high level of care and attention by everyone involved”, including the other teams. Tziopanos and his colleagues from team About Cannons + Sparrows have creatively worked in different media for over 20 years. The whole trio is “surprised by the scope and depth of the program” and is looking forward to the challenge.

The eagerness to take on challenges is mutual. Meeting new and talented people in the industry is a boon for our mentors, too. The experts holding our workshops regularly show curiosity and are thankful for the lively input they are getting back. For Gamecity Hamburg, the high rate of returning experts over multiple years is an important affirmation of their approach.

We do not want to impede the incubator’s work after this smooth and noiseless start. But we plan to introduce each team individually in the coming weeks. And we will soon get to take a peek at Gamecity’s silver bullet: the network of mentors.


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