game Schleswig-Holstein is the regional office of the games industry in the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. The state hopes to become a ‘digital flagship region of Germany’. The regional games industry supports this goal with its digital content and technological advancements ‘made in Schleswig-Holstein’. Games are the most progressive medium of our age, inherently digital since their inception. They are cultural assets, economic commodities and drivers of innovation in equal measure, and they should be included in the state’s digitalisation strategy as soon as possible. The technology and mechanisms used in the games industry have applications that extend far beyond the cultural and entertainment sector, ranging from logistics to healthcare. For this reason, we are working alongside regional stakeholders and in close cooperation with partners such as the IF(game)SH initiative to comprehensively improve conditions for the games industry in Schleswig-Holstein. Our four most important demands are as follows:
- Existing funding programmes are insufficient to provide support for games companies’ complex projects, as these programmes tend to reduce the extensive potential of games to their technological or economic aspects and neglect the importance of cultural diversity. Therefore, Schleswig-Holstein needs funding programmes specifically for games, like the ones that are already successfully operating in most German states (such as Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia). This is the only way to ensure that competition in the most rapidly growing segment of the media industry occurs on an equal footing throughout Germany, and to fully tap the potential for creating start-ups and attracting existing companies. Games industry funding from the state of Schleswig-Holstein would facilitate digital innovation, create new jobs, inspire cultural growth and prevent migration from Schleswig-Holstein to other German states.
The portfolio of projects eligible for funding in the games industry in Schleswig-Holstein should be as broad as possible in order to support the entire value chain. Alongside funding for concepts and prototypes at newer companies, this also includes the production of games by established companies and distribution (marketing and publishing costs) to raise the profile of games from Schleswig-Holstein on the global market. Funding for networking events and conferences (Baltic Dev Days), capital goods (hardware and software, dev kits, licences), training programmes and consulting services, as well as participation in trade fairs and conferences in Germany and abroad round off the package of measures for the industry.
In future, regional funding must be compatible with federal funding. The percentage of any given project that the state government of Schleswig-Holstein allows to be funded through subsidies must be adequate to make maximum use of the federal subsidies granted. Only then can the full potential of positive leveraging effects and further regional investments be tapped. EU notification for games funding – using Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia as a model – should also be an objective here, so that they are no subject to the restrictions of the de minimis aid regulation.
- The existing ecosystem of the games industry in Schleswig-Holstein consists of many small and medium-sized companies alongside educational establishments and esports stakeholders scattered throughout the state. Consequently, the demand for a strong network within the regional, national and international games industry and an exchange of ideas with other economic sectors is particularly important to allow all stakeholders to benefit from one another on all levels and for the games ecosystem to successfully develop as a unified whole. That is why we demand the establishment of a dedicated network for the games industry with corresponding funding. It should be established separately, under the cluster management of Digital Economy Schleswig-Holstein (DiWiSH), and it should focus on the subject of games. Specific centralised points of contact for the games industry will be a decisive factor in bolstering the industry and ensuring that network events and conferences are properly funded and staffed. This will require the establishment of an HR department to handle network management, consulting services for start-ups and communication.
A fundamental aspect here is funding for a range of different event formats where members of the industry can network on a regional, national and international level. Potential formats include lectures and workshops in combination with interactive presentations of games produced in the region, alongside Game-Jams an besonderen Orten Schleswig-Holsteins (Inseln, Schiffe, etc.), die die besondere geografische Lage als Brücke zu Skandinavien nutzen und als Alleinstellungsmerkmal herausstellen. Die Förderung von game jams at special locations in Schleswig-Holstein (islands, ships, etc.) that make use of the region’s unique geographical location as a bridge to Scandinavia and highlight this as a USP. Funding for flagship events with national and international prominence, such as the Baltic Dev Days, could help draw particular attention to the regional industry and its stakeholders in synergy with other important events such as Digital Week Kiel or Kieler Woche.
- Skilled professionals are in high demand, and they need to be educated in Schleswig-Holstein and remain in the region – qualified young graduates and professionals must be able to find career prospects here. To that end, colleges and universities will need to position themselves as educational and training partners to the industry by offering programmes of study that are already relevant to the games industry today; in future, they will need to offer internationally oriented programmes of study in fields specific to the games industry, such as game design and art, game audio and game development and production. Partnerships between educators and companies must be cultivated and firmly cemented (through teaching assignments, mentoring, internships, and thesis projects, for example).
- game Schleswig-Holstein welcomes the political initiative to develop the state into a major location for esports. On the federal level, the state should promote the non-profit status of esports so that any esports clubs founded will be placed on an equal footing with other popular sports.
Events such as the Nordish Gaming Convention – one of the biggest LAN parties in Germany that attracts professional esports athletes and amateurs from around the world to Husum – and the ESL esports event at the world-famous Wacken Open Air festival earned the state a great deal of attention, as well as a positive image and tourism revenue. Consequently, events such these and the eSailing Regatta during Kieler Woche should also be expanded in future. Crucially, funding for esports should always provide specific support for the work of the companies in the local games industry.