September 18, 2023
Games Lift: Meet you at the top
For its 2023 edition, the Games Lift Incubator launches with a new space, new concepts, five brand-new teams - and with years of experience.
If there is a single moment when the Games Lift Incubator 2023 really starts, it is this one: In the new office location SPACE, Nenad Slavujevic takes his place next to a huge screen, smiles, and makes eye contact with the audience. His five years of experience in the industry become evident in his short pitch. The project of his studio Monodot is called "Chaos Royale", and Nenad wastes no time in getting to the point. "Vampire Survivor x Binding of Isaac x Battle Royale" is written in italics on the screen.
Five teams have been selected to participate in this year’s Games Lift Incubator. By design, they cover a wide spectrum. Team sizes, backgrounds, genres, and goals of each project are different.
At the SPACE, the variety is instantly apparent when the next project takes the stage: "Map Map" is a cozy game following in the footsteps of "Geoguessr". Pipapo Games are a team of four and take turns while presenting their title. Project Manager and Environment Artist Clara Müller starts by introducing the unusual concept, then Game Designer and Programmer Lukas Hort follows up: He explains the core loop around exploring, measuring, mapping and placing buildings.
Games Lift keeps getting better
The Incubator has become a fixture of Hamburg’s gaming scene. A remarkable twenty-four teams applied this year. Just being able to attend is a proof of success. Each of the projects has an original direction, an unusual twist, a unique idea.
Bagpack Games are developing "We the Valarii", a co-op racer with innovative controls. Markus Koepke's "Journey Beyond the Edge of the World" is a moody first-person adventure with a special focus on his self-made music. And "Dottobeau" is a gorgeously illustrated adventure that turns changing the mood into a game mechanic.
After giving their presentations, the teams huddle, asking questions and handing out compliments. But a certain tension remains palpable. The Games Lift Incubator is a demanding support program. This first meeting marks its beginning. The plan for the coming weeks includes breaks and time off; space the teams need to take on big challenges. They all hope to make important steps in their projects.
Many of the workshops in the program have been refined through experience. New names have been added, such as Chris Zukowski, known for his highly regarded program "How to Market A Game". And the many speakers returning incorporate learnings from previous iterations of the Incubator. While biz dev expert Cassia Curran draws on her management experience at NetEase and Jagex, she looks at each team individually. Some workshops divide teams into groups to facilitate this approach.
Room for ideas
This year, the Games Lift Incubator can put a new emphasis on working together – with a new location. The open offices of SPACE in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt have been an excellent setting for the kick-off event. It will remain available to the teams during the Incubator. Numerous startups from out of Hamburg's the local creative industry have already booked in at Am Sandtorkai. The location offers open spaces, opportunities for retreating into a more concentrated setting, and good coffee. Flowing colors and variable furniture serve as a reminder to search for a new perspective from time to time. And a short climb up the stairs leads to the roof terrace with a clear view of the horizon.
But we will have to wait. Now, the teams are hard at work. In a few weeks, we will begin to present them and their projects in more detail. Until then, the teams have workshops to complete, projects to develop and learnings to take in. Their plans are big. Now, they are put into practice.