Riad Djemili is the co-founder of Berlin indie game company Maschinen-Mensch. Their debut title The Curious Expedition
, a fantastical expedition simulation game set in the 19th century, was released in 2015 on Steam Early Access and won the German Developer award for “Best Indie Game 2015”.
Riad started working in the game industry in 2005 and worked for seven years at Berlin game company YAGER, where he among other titles worked on the critically acclaimed game Spec Ops: The Line
© Goethe-Institut Boston
As game designer and artist Schönfelder works on games in both the games industry and independently. Her artistic work often deals with questions surrounding ethics and everyday life challenges and gained international awards and recognition. Schönfelder currently works as game designer for Ustwo Games in London.
Berlin, Technical Director Studio Fizbin
Game: The Inner World
The Inner World
Born in 1985, right after the videogame crash and in the beginning of a new golden age, he grew up with NES, SNES, Mega Drive and his first PC. In 1997 he read a BASIC-Book and programmed his first Text-Adventure for his brother’s birthday, „Survive Afternoon School“.
As he dived further into programming and the architecture of videogames, he started studying Applied Computer Sciences in 2007. After a workshop with the „Filmakademie“, his decision was set. He wanted to make story-driven games for a living. Games, which should take the player to places they’ve never been before. Alexander then founded Studio Fizbin
together with Sebastian Mittag and Mareike Ottrand, took over the role of the Technical Director in 2011 and began working on his biggest project till then, “The Inner World”.
In 2013 “The Inner World” was released and found its way through the App-Store and Stream to many players around the world. It also won several awards including the most important award in Germany, “Best German Game” in 2014.
Right now he is working as Game Director and Technical Director on Studio Fizbin's
newest project: „Beyond The Mountains“ an exploration focused game based on the world invented by the famous author H.P. Lovecraft.
Utz Stauder, born in 1989 in Gelsenkirchen, is a German programmer and Co-founder of the design studio Ludopium
in Cologne. After finishing high-school he moved to Cologne where he studied Media Science and Digital Games at the Cologne Game Lab. He also worked on film and TV productions.
In Game Design he found the perfect combination of technical aspiration and artistic freedom. Together with three friends from Hungary and Columbia and with the support of the promotional program SpielFabrique, he founded Ludopium
. With MMM, a musical multiplayer game, Ludopium
won the German Multimediapreis in 2016. Their current project Isometric Epilepsy
was awarded second best newcomer concept for the German Computerspielpreis 2017. In addition to his work as a game designer, Utz Stauder teaches Game programming at the School of Games in Cologne.
Cologne, Director Cologne Game Lab
Björn Bartholdy studied communication design (diploma) at the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart and media design (diploma) at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. In 1994 he founded cutup, a media design agency, and was its creative director and business manager until 2002. The agency won many national and international prizes in the categories of film and TV design as well as new media.
In 1999 the majority of the agency was taken over by Bertelsmann. Björn Bartholdy ran the virtual design department at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy in Ludwigsburg from 1999-2002.
Björn Bartholdy is a long-standing member of the “Eyes and Ears of Europe”, the European association for design, promotion and marketing of audiovisual media. He has published three books: SHOWREEL.01 and .02 on audiovisual design and has also written “Broadcast Design”, an account of current TV design. He has also contributed various articles to the Design Dictionary (Birkhäuser) Magazines and other Publications.
In 2006 he started the initiative to found the Cologne Game Lab, where he started to teach Media Design as a full time professor in the summer term 2014. He co-directs the institute together with Prof. Dr. Gundolf S. Freyermuth.
Game: TRI: Of Friendship and Madness
Jana is an Indie Game Designer based in Halle, Germany. In 2015 she won the German Computer Game Prize for TRI. The Indie Scene grows every day, she says. To create games that stand out, that’s the trick.
She can do a little of anything, says Jana Reinhardt. That’s an understatement. She can do a few things very well. She can, for instance create characters for games pretty well, she can design a gaming world and, together with her (business) partner Friedrich Hanisch, she designs video games.
Her biggest success is TRI, a kind of puzzle – exploration game in ego-perspective. “I like story games, I like to experience the story by playing.” She gets her ideas for new games at game jams, where participants typically have 48 hours to create a game. “You ‘re lacking new ideas when you’re just working on a single long game”.
Cologne, Cologne Game Lab
Game Design Network: Creative Units
Krystian was born in 1981 in Warsaw (Poland), grew up in Darmstadt (Germany) and is currently studying design at the Cologne Game Lab while working as a freelancer for various clients. He has also worked for "NEON Studios" in Frankfurt and for the advertising agency "SchulzKommunikation" in Darmstadt.
He’s interested in game design and has joined Yu-Chung Chen and Daniel Renkel in a collaborative game design network called "Creative Units" (CEEU). They run the two blogs "Game Design Reviews" and "Game Design Scrapbook".
© Kevin Glaap
Bonn, CEO Goodwolf Studio
Game: Code 7
Kevin is a game designer from Bonn. Since early childhood, it has been his dream to design video games. His father was lecturer for media at the Akademie der Kulturellen Bildung des Bundes und des Landes NRW, which sparked a lot of interest in the digital world. For example, he created his first website when he was just five years old. Since then the interest in creating media and in particular games has only grown. With his bachelor in computer science, Kevin laid the foundation for his career in the games industry. Since 2014 he studies at the Cologne Game Lab and has been working on the award-winning episodic adventure „Code 7“. In this context, he started the company Goodwolf Studio with his colleague Zein Okko and has successfully crowdfunded „Code 7“. The release date for the first episode is going to be in April 2017, so right now he is working on finishing the game.
© Julian Dasgupta
Stockholm, Sweden, Studio Spaces of Play
Game: Future Unfolding
Andreas Zecher studied Communication Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, Germany. His educational diploma thesis project "Understanding Games" has been used as a primer in many Game Design classes around the world. Andreas has been working together with Mattias Ljungström and Marek Plichta since 2009 as indie studio Spaces of Play. In 2010 they made the highly regarded puzzle game Spirits.
Since 2013 they have been working on the exploration game Future Unfolding
, which is supported by the Indie Fund + Friends, the MEDIA Programme of the European Union and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. Future Unfolding
is set to be released early 2017. Andreas is also running Promoter, a web service for game developers to track press mentions and distribute promo codes. Promoter is used by companies such as Double Fine Productions, Media Molecule and Finji.
Game: TRI: Of Friendship and Madness
Friedrich is the cofounder of Rat King Entertainment, an indie game studio from Halle, Germany. Together with Jana Reinhardt he studied multimedia design, and Friedrich's final project at university won the SAE Alumni Award. Directly afterwards they both went on to create games on their own, trying to distill the atmosphere and interactivity of the games they love. With around 40 finished games jam created over the last few years Friedrich claims himself to be a strong proponent of experimental game design, small fun experiences and quick iteration in game development. Some of his entries at the online game jam event Ludum Dare scored well in the category Innovation. Rat King's game TRI: Of Friendship and Madness
, released in fall 2014, received several awards, for example the Goldener Spatz - Best IndieGame4Kids 2014 and Best Youth Game at the Deutsche Computerspielpreis
© Onat Hekimoglu
Floating between film fan and game designer as well as gamer and film maker Onat is good at mixing storytelling and interactive concepts. After studying film at the WAM Medienakademie and Game Design at the Cologne Game lab, he is now working on his third academic degree. Driven by a reverse engineering kind of curiosity about gadgets, instruments, anything with knobs and buttons, he has been able to retain a childlike enthusiasm for playing with things, leading to projects like the interactive audio-visual installation "Klanglichter" or the virtual reality homelessness simulation "Outcasted". He has won a range of awards in the realms of film and games and is currently working on „Harold Halibut“, a contemporary adventure game made of craft supplies and the first major release of the game company he co-founded with his friends.
Josef Vorbeck | © Josef Vorbeck
Josef Vorbeck is the Game Producer at Stuttgart-based game development studio Chasing Carrots. While growing up games influenced him early on. Through playing his first game (Maniac Mansion) on his cousins Amiga, getting his own Game Boy, Mega Drive and later on a PC, he got involved in game mods and worked on a few private browser-based games with like-minded people. After trying different professional career paths he decided to study game production in Berlin. In 2012 he and his team won the best newcomer award at the German Developer Awards. From this point on his journey in game development led him from Berlin to Stuttgart, where he is helping the talented people at Chasing Carrots. Chasing Carrots is an award-winning independent game development studio based in Stuttgart, Germany. Their recipe is simple: Develop delicious game creations that have a unique look and feel paired with innovative mechanics, for PC, consoles and mobile devices. Created for a broad audience, their ideas spread over different genres, while staying true to the kind of games they love to play themselves. Also they offer support for realizing game related third party projects. Started as a side project in 2009, the studio was founded in 2011 by Dominik Schneider and Patrick Wachowiak. Thanks to a committed investor, Chasing Carrots is a fully privately funded company. The team consists of passionate, multidisciplinary working people with various backgrounds.
Sebastian Bulas | © Sebastian Bulas
Hamburg, Studio: Threaks
Game: Battle Planet - Daydream
Sebastian Bulas studied communication design and achieved his diploma in design in 2010.
He is one of the founders of the Threaks GmbH and one of two CEO’s of the company. As Producer and Art Director, who also works hands-on in production, he is a key person of the company who drives the uniqueness and high quality in the development of every project forward.
Representing the company, Sebastian Bulas attends Game Shows all over the globe and gave talks at conferences like GDC San Francisco, the Cebit and the Expo 2015.
Mareike Ottrand is half professor and mentor, half game illustrator based in Hamburg, Germany. The third half of her time she spends playing video games, being part of conferences in the interactive section and judging games for several awards and festivals.
After spending a year in London and working for MTV, Nickelodeon and DisneyTV at the animation Studio Mainframe, Mareike co-founded the independent games company Studio Fizbin as the responsible Art Director in 2011. Besides interactive and games related contract work, their first own multi-platform adventure game called The Inner World
became internationally successful. Winning several awards, including the Indie Prize
in Kyiv 2013 and the German Computer Game Award
(category „Best game of the year“) in 2014, Studio Fizbin set foot in the independent games industry. The sequel The last Windmonk
is to be released in 2017.
In 2015 Mareike started teaching as a professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg focusing on games and interactive illustration. She holds lectures on visual development for games all across Europe and stands up for a better understanding of video games as an art form. Mareike is part of the nomination committee of the Independent Games Festival
in San Francisco and is one of the judges for the German Computer Game Award
since 2015. The online magazine Games Wirtschaft
(Games Economy) lists Mareike as one of the „Top 50 Most Important Woman In The German Game Industry in 2017“.
© Goethe-Institut Boston
Berlin, Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Software
Thorsten studied economy with a focus on marketing and international management. After graduating with a degree in business administration, he worked for various games and media companies in marketing, distribution and business development. At the Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Software he’s responsible for marketing, market research and member services, as well as developing the network BIU.Dev & BIU. His main focus is on strengthening Germany’s attraction for game developers and to facilitate international networking for German game companies.