Chancellor Merkel opens games trade fair in Cologne

Aug 24, 2017

German Chancellor Merkel reached out to young voters ahead of next month's election when she became the first national German leader to open the world's biggest computer games trade fair on August 24 in Cologne.

Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Gamescon Enlarge image Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Gamescon (© dpa) In her address, Merkel highlighted the economic and social importance of the digital games that are on show at Gamescom, which this year is also the most political in its nine-year history. Apart from a special election forum to be attended by representatives of the major parties standing in the September 24 election, several of the games on show at the five-day trade fair have a strong political message including tackling radical right-wing groups. 

Computer games are "cultural assets, innovation engines and economic factors of the utmost importance," the chancellor said in her opening speech, describing the industry "a strong pillar of the German economy."

The digital gaming community posted a turnover of more than 1 billion Euro in the first half of 2017. Merkel's government has also called on German companies in general to step up plans for boosting the digitalization of their operations.

Angela Merkel at Gamescom Enlarge image Angela Merkel at Gamescom (© Bundesregierung/Steins) But in addition, the average age of German gamers is 35, which is also a group of voters that is of special interest to political parties such as Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats. "Gamescom is more political than ever this year," said Felix Falk, whoi heads up the German digital games industry association (BIU). Merkel's appearance at Gamescom comes less than a week after she fielded questions on YouTube from four popular young video bloggers, with a collective audience of about 3 million subscribers.

Germany might be one of the world's biggest markets for computer games, but Merkel acknowledged that the nation's digital games industry had fallen behind other nations such as Canada, France, Britain, Italy and Poland in terms of development. "We are not the pioneers," said Merkel. "In the next legislative period, we want to bring together all those involved to offer the German developers reasonable possibilities," she said.

More than 900 exhibitors from over 50 nations have set up shop at this year's Gamescom, which is spread across more than 200,000 square metres of space. Last year, visitors to the trade fair totalled about 345,000. This year's Gamescom partner country is Canada.


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