For the first time ever, LadiesGamers was present at GamesCom 2023 in Cologne! And not just as a visitor to scour the stands but as a press member. Cologne isn’t too far to drive, some two hours from where I am. With traffic jams and searching for our parking lot, getting there in time was a bit of stress. And as we finally got there, we had to cross the entire Koelnmesse for our first appointment. A stiff walk of 15 minutes, which meant I was slightly late for my first appointment. This is very much not like me, I’m the kind of person who is usually 15 minutes early!
In the business area, I had booked three interviews about games that look very promising. The first one was with one of the developers of Muse Games. They are behind Wildmender (a demo is available on Steam), a desert survival gardening game. Just my cup of tea!
My second interview was with the producer and the scenario writer of the action RPG Silent Hope from Marvelous. Did you know Silent Hope is set in the same kind of world as Rune Factory is set in?
The third interview was with Snowcastle Games from Norway. They are the developers of Ikonei Island: An Earthlock Adventure (already in Early Access). Ikonei really is the kind of game we love: simulation, exploration, farming and more.
Of course, you can read these interviews on LadiesGamers soon!
The Business Area
Mercifully, the business areas weren’t as crowded as the entertainment areas were. Which, of course, was to be expected. What they had in common, though, was that it was hot everywhere. Sure, there was aircon, but it was no picnic for a woman who has battled hot flashes for eight years now. Can you imagine having an interview while surreptitiously trying to wipe your face?
Anyway, I learned quickly that the only way to talk to people is to have an appointment. Most studios are grouped in an arena with booths or stands within. Bordered by makeshift walls, with the only entrance being a reception desk. Just walking up there to shake hands with someone we have been emailing for years didn’t work. Learning point for me for next time: everything is done by appointment!
As my appointment with Kwalee (Wildmender) and Decibel PR (Silent Hope) was indeed made in advance, I could shake hands with them. Big shoutout to Allwyn D’Souza and Sam Brace for making us feel very welcome indeed!
Indie and Retro Entertainment
One of the entertainment halls was partly dedicated to Indie gaming, and I think this is where we saw many games that would fit LadiesGamers perfectly. There was a stand specifically for Dutch gaming, and as I am Dutch, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the sweets they had out front to nibble on.
- Critter Cove (already in Early Access)
- Grimoire Groves (demo on Steam)
- Circle of Kerzoven (demo on Steam)
- Garden Life
- Fireside (demo on Steam)
- CLeM (which has a demo on Steam)
Just to name a few, there were so many more games we could try for ourselves. I think it’s great that the wholesome kind of games are getting noticed and get a lot of attention at events like this.
I loved how they had incorporated retro gaming into the mix. And I’m not just talking about the 8-bit era; games on the DS also got attention. Like the stage that was erected for Guitar Hero so people could jam together.
There was a showcase of every Civilization game over the eras. One that housed rare gaming devices, like the Virtual Boy (that was a 32-bit tabletop portable video game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. Released in 1995, it was marketed as the first console capable of displaying stereoscopic “3D” graphics.)
Gaming is Big Business
Looking at the title of this chapter, I guess that’s no eye-opener for you. It is indeed big business. When we checked out the other entertainment areas, that was very clear. No effort was spared by the bigger publishers to make an exciting booth. If you could call it a booth, most had huge areas. There really was so much to see that in the end, we ran out of time!
The Witcher had an entire stage, as did Giants Software with Farming Simulator. Path of Exile was there, HoYoverse had a huge area (Genshin Impact), SOEDESCO (Truck Driver), and Frontier Development was there with a courtyard in the style of Realms of Ruin. It was really too much to mention, but a lot of it was big and perfectly themed, like the booth that had Indiana Jones items and actors playing the part.
Xbox had a huge area, and I was especially pleased to see a big part with several booths from Nintendo as well.
People were lining up to have a picture taken with Mario and Luigi or have a chance to play some Tears of the Kingdom. Caroline and I could try our hand at Fashion Dreamer, a game we are really looking forward to.
I have to mention this stage especially. Will you look at this? It looked just like in the game; you could have your picture taken with the shovel or fishing pole in hand. By the time we got there, however, there was a huge waiting line for that, so we just watched. I loved it!
Streetpass is Still A Thing
Don’t let sceptical people tell you it isn’t: I can confirm Streetpass is still a thing. On the off chance that I’d find some hits, I brought my 3DS with me to Cologne. I can tell you my 3DS was overjoyed; it hadn’t been picked up for the longest time!
Anyway, I got 13 hits, and I’m pretty sure I could have gotten more. But I was a bit rusty: I forgot to clear out the gate in the afternoon. In the morning, in the business area, I only had 3. So in the afternoon, when we visited the Entertainment Areas, I didn’t check anymore. I was surprised when I had 10 when I saw the green light while we were back in the car!
After all these years, it was still lovely to see the people, read their comments, find new puzzle pieces and try for cool plants in the garden game!