RESPAWN 2013 – A great new addition to the German Indie games conference scene

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© Aruba Events GmbH, Würth, Photo: Carsten Andre

Cologne, Germany (Weltexpress). While the mighty machine of GDC Europe grinds its relentless annual course at the trade fair grounds in Cologne, a mere stone’s throw away in a funky former industrial warehouse – known as the “Adventure Halls” – a new Indie games conference opens its doors. Called The Respawn Gathering of Game Designers, it seems set to cause a buzz in the German games industry.

The brainchild of experienced conference organizer Stephan Reichart of Aruba Events, The Respawn Gathering is designed to bring the young and hungry future generation of games designers and industry creatives together with seasoned professionals in the field to discuss, exchange ideas and knowledge and share experiences.

“We’ve been running Quo Vadis at the Deutsche Gamestage in Berlin for 12 years now, “ says Reichart, “And obviously, if you hold a business event you have to spend money, which means you have to charge an appropriate entrance fee. So of course, that excludes a lot of young people. We felt it was time for a new indie platform, and came up with this concept just a few weeks ago.”

It’s a pretty cool concept, too, The conference layout has a relaxed, informal feel to it, with islands dotted around the hall, each loosely demarcated by fabric screens uplit in different colours. A monitor and a lectern comprise the speakers’ presentation podium, facing a semi-circle of around 25 stools, with plenty of standing room behind them.

© Aruba Events GmbH, Würth, Photo: Carsten AndreWhat makes this conference different is that at the entrance, each attendee is handed a set of headphones and a programme selector. With this, they can dial in to any session currently in progress, whether they happen to be sitting in front of the speaker or standing at the bar drinking coffee or a beer, or munching on a veggie-filled bread pocket in the tented chill-out yard outside.

The energy flow is almost tangible: there is a sense that just by walking through the hall you’re going to absorb information almost by osmosis. People’s faces reflect their enthusiasm and it’s infectious. The speakers and their content are lively and interesting.

“We had 500 attendees which is really good for a first event,” states Stephan Reichart proudly, “especially as it was at such short notice. The feedback has been very positive too, so all the indications for future growth and success are there. But if we want to grow, we’re going to have to find a location that can fit more than 500 people, which is the maximum that the ‘Abenteuerhallen’ can take, but that is as inexpensive to hire for two days.”

The event attracted international games industry luminaries such as Al Lowe and Paul Trowe of Replay Games, and Rovio business development head Jussi Immonen, as well as professionals from German game developers Flaregames, Remote Control Productions and HandyGames. Sessions were also held by eSports expert David Hiltscher of Turtle Entertainment and the newly-renamed Games Academy Hochschule (University) in Berlin, which is now able to offer graduates a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Science, Game Design and Gamification as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Digital Arts – a great step forward in achieving recognition for the industry itself.

All in all, we are seeing some exciting changes in the games industry in Germany, and with Respawn spearheading the way for a whole new kind of conference we can look forward to some great new developments ahead.

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