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

Games Lift returns: Apply now to grow your game – like these developers did last year

Last year, Gamecity Hamburg launched the Games Lift Incubator. Five teams took their projects to the next stage during their time in the incubator. Now Games Lift is about to return.

From September to December 2021, five more teams will receive the mentoring and funding they need to face the unique challenges of the gaming market.

Applications for the Games Lift Incubator 2021 are open between June 21st and July 26th – whether you’re a game design student or already founded your own studio. The Incubator Log will keep you updated on all the projects. But until the new batch arrives, let’s look at last year’s participants.

Roman’s Adventure

In 2015 Roman Fuhrer decided to leave his secure job in the games industry and start his own company. "After working on different games for over 15 years, the desire to realize my own ideas had grown", he says. The result of that desire is Leif’s Adventure, which will be released in September.

Roman Fuhrer during last year's incubator intensive phase | Credit: Julia Rogalitzki

“The environment in Hamburg is ideal", Fuhrer says, mentioning the help he got from other game developers. "As an indie developer, you often face big challenges that you have to overcome completely on your own”, he says. That’s why he applied for Games Lift.

“Leif's Adventure had been in development for almost four years at that point”, he says. Fuhrer developed his game while also working as a freelance graphics designer. When he applied, he had just finished his prototype.

What is the Games Lift Incubator?

Games Lift is not only for developers with previous experience like Roman Fuhrer. The program is aimed at anyone who wants to take the step into the games industry. During the three months span, participants receive up to 15,000 Euros in funding as well as mentoring from industry professionals.

“I have worked in game development for a very long time, specializing in graphics, illustration and concept art”, Fuhrer says. But regarding other areas, like marketing, he calls himself a complete beginner. “That's exactly why I applied ", he says. "To make contacts and to acquire new knowledge.”

“That took the game a big step forward”

One of those contacts is Anne Beuttenmüller. As Director of Marketing at Niantic, she oversees the European market for Pokémon GO. Beuttenmüller is part of the committee deciding on the five applications that are accepted to the incubator as well as one of the mentors. “At the beginning, we asked the participants what they would like to learn from the tutors”, she recalls, “and quite a few said: marketing.”

Mentor and Awarding Committee Member Anne Beuttenmüller | Credit: private

The coaching might even be more important than the money. Ole Jürgensen joined Games Lift in 2020 with his Virtual Reality game Crumbling. The idea of presenting the games heroes like action figures was developed with his mentors. “That took the game a big step forward”, he says. “We met great people and realized how open and accessible everyone in the industry is”, Jürgensen says about his experience.

Last year's incubator participant Ole Jürgensen  | Credit: Julia Rogalitzki

How to convince the committee

Beuttenmüller says the awarding committee decides as a team which projects get selected for the Games Lift Incubator. “How did the teams appear as personalities? Can Hamburg grow with their game?”, she lists some of the criteria. “And then we’re also trying to have a breadth of different genres.”

Despite such impressive pitches, only about a quarter of game developers are female. Beuttenmüller thinks that mentoring programs like the Games Lift Incubator can encourage more women to enter the industry. She hopes to see an even more diverse field of applicants this year.
While gender is not a deciding factor, “it was nice to see someone like Julia Reberg, especially in the very male dominated gaming space”, Beuttenmüller says. Reberg’s project Alchymia only existed as a concept when the game design student joined the incubator last year. “She came in with an idea and convinced everyone”, Beuttenmüller says about the solo-developer.

Julia Reberg during the 2020 Games Lift program  | Credit: Julia Rogalitzki

When the eggs finally hatch

Games Lift is only the beginning for the five projects that get selected. Roman Fuhrer will release Leif’s Adventure in autumn. “My hopes are that I can use the revenue to fund a new prototype”, he says. “Ideally in a small team of developers.” Going forward he doesn’t want to work all by himself anymore.

Ole Jürgensen’s game Crumbling is making its next big step with the Gamecity Prototype Funding. “Games Lift made Crumbling possible” he says. To Jürgensen, support and funding is essential for innovative games like his VR toy box. He can’t wait to see what projects will be selected this year. “There is still a huge potential and ingenious ideas out there!”

Whether you have one of those ideas or already work on a game, you can apply for the Games Lift Incubator 2021 until July 26th. Together with Gamecity Hamburg you can grow your project – just like Ole Jürgensen, Julia Reberg and Roman Fuhrer did.

Find out more about what the Games Lift Incubator offers and how to apply here on our website.

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