The BIU is a co-organiser and the conceptual sponsor of gamescom, the highlight of the interactive entertainment industry’s annual event and trade fair calendar. Major innovations from Germany, Europe and the rest of the world are showcased at gamescom, where they often celebrate their premiere. gamescom is both a trade fair and a public event, making it a unique entertainment experience for all visitors. It is hosted by the city of Cologne, where it has taken place in August of every year since 2009. Koelnmesse GmbH is the service provider responsible for organising and running the event; it owns one of the largest and most modern expo centres in Germany, with 284,000 square metres of floor space. In 2015, over 345,000 people from 96 countries attended the event, visiting booths run by 806 exhibitors from 45 countries – more than ever before.
gamescom: the concept
The success of gamescom is due in large part to the idea behind it. The event brings together representatives of every link in the industry’s value chain, from developers and publishers to retailers and consumers, and creates forums for discussion at every level. The entertainment area is aimed at games fans from the general public. It comprises four modern exhibition halls with a total of about 80,000 square metres of floor space and both an indoor and an outdoor area. Here, gamescom attendees can try out the latest gaming software and hardware. The business area is an exclusive space for exhibitors, trade professionals and the media. The exceptional infrastructure in this area makes it an ideal forum for successfully conducting business and holding in-depth discussions. The business area is a top meeting spot for the more than 33,200 trade professionals who attend the event.
The gamescom congress is taking place for the sixth time this year. It is one of the most important conferences for digital games in Germany. Unlike previous years, where the focus was on a single issue, this year’s gamescom congress will concentrate on four highly topical aspects of the industry, significantly expanding the range of issues covered and consequently addressing a broader target group. More than 60 speakers will discuss the latest trends in these four areas: ‘Competent gaming – protecting minors from harmful media, and media literacy today’, ‘Germany as a hub – digital games made in Germany’, ‘Digital games as a driving force – education, academics and research’, and ‘What’s next? Media policy and legal issues in Germany and Europe’.
This conference has been officially accredited as a training programme for teachers and other education professionals; upon request, participants will be given a certificate to that effect at the check-in desk. The conference is organised by Koelnmesse GmbH and supported by North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media, the BIU – the German Games Industry Association – and the City of Cologne.
The third pillar is the Game Developers Conference Europe (GDC Europe), the largest developers’ conference in Europe. The three-day event starts two days before gamescom and is also held at the Koelnmesse expo centre. gamescom hosts its day for trade professionals and the media in the same location on the final day of GDC Europe. The conference is the most important platform for European developers; the latest trends in game development are presented and discussed here. The conference is characterised by its international orientation. When GDC Europe premiered in Cologne in 2013, it already hosted 2,250 participants and was heralded as a complete success.
In addition to these three main pillars, gamescom offers a multifaceted programme of other events. The gamescom city festival features concerts, music and entertainment in Cologne’s city centre, which always takes on a festive atmosphere for the entire duration of the event.
The gamescom award is presented every year to honour the best games at the event. All companies exhibiting at gamescom can submit their games for consideration. Games are eligible if they were not published in Germany before gamescom and are available in the entertainment area for attendees to view and play.
Youth protection and media literacy
At gamescom, the games industry also acknowledges its responsibility to help protect minors. The provisions of German youth protection laws are consistently observed throughout the exhibition area, and comprehensive measures are in place to protect young attendees from harmful content, including age verification at exhibitors’ booths.