Sozo Labs had the privilege to form part of the South African delegation that attended Respawn @Devcom as well as Gamescom in Cologne, Germany during August this year. Gamescom is the biggest video game convention in the world, taking the number one spot this year by beating its previous attendance record.
I arrived in Cologne by train on Saturday evening, met with gray clouds and rainy weather. After dashing from tunnels, to trees and bridges, seeking shelter from the rain, I finally plucked up the courage to face my 2km walk to the hotel, suitcase in tow.
The Sunday and Monday at the Respawn conference was packed with game developer talks covering a range of topics, including art, game design, development, law and business tips.
Tuesday the South African business representatives set up shop in the Business Hall. Posters, laptops, chocolates and business cards were laid out, while the tables and chairs were neatly arranged and ready for meetings. We had about an hour each day to scout the merchandise and exhibition halls before it opened to the public (skipping the long queues and flashing your business pass can make you almost drunk with power). The scale of Gamescom is simply unbelievable. With about 201000 m2 of exhibition space, 919 exhibitors, 30700 trade visitors and 350000 visitors, it was a lot to take in. Once the doors opens to visitors it becomes near impossible play any game if you aren’t ready to stand in long queues.
Some of the games I tried out were Project Cars 2, which features fellow South African Stephen Viljoen as Game Director. They had 6 very cool hydraulic racing simulators with a 3 screen setup which was awesome to race in. The game is really more of a racing sim so this is the best way to experience it in all its glory. Other notable games were Battlefield 1, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Ni No Kuni II and I also tried some Playstation VR titles.
We met some interesting people, game developers and companies from all over world and enjoyed making new connections, both friendly and business. You learn a lot talking to people and gaining insight from their challenges and experience in the gaming industry. The networking within our own South African group was also very insightful and beneficial and will no doubt serve to strengthen the local industry as we all work together to attract foreign business to our beautiful and talented country.