Gamescom 2022 is over - after a long Corona break, the fair took place again on site in Cologne. The conclusion is mostly positive. The events surrounding the influencers alone are not only annoying, but worrying. An opinion.
Most recently, games and gaming were celebrated in the halls of the Cologne trade fair in 2019. With this year's comeback, Gamescom made a statement: it was full - actually everything was as you know it from the Cologne Games Fair.
No place for violence
And yet one thing seems to be completely different now: Gamescom is no longer just about games and playing, it's becoming more and more about the scene. That's not always a good thing, as this year's trade fair event has now shown. It is clear that the influencers bring a lot with them that is useful for Gamescom: they bring their fans into the halls, they bring their reach to the popularity of the fair, their topics ensure entertaining moments for completely different target groups - but they bring also includes everything that can be felt again and again in the everyday life of the scene: stress, arguments, bickering, bullying, sometimes violence.
Do you want that at Gamescom? no Can that be ruled out with certainty? no Unless you offer the influencers a smaller platform. The fact is: Gamescom in Cologne is supposed to be about games – for everyone. Where adult trade fair visitors can deal with such situations, things are completely different for children. You need protection, even at an entertainment event. Your parents and relatives are the first bulwark against harmful influences from outside. At the end is the general public, the group of gamers who should ensure that children are presented with a peaceful and friendly fair. If influencers now bring their “beef” to the trade fair, there can only be one consequence: Husch, back in your basket. In other words: trade fair ban.
When influencers get their notoriety to their heads, pumped full of adrenaline, patrolling the fairgrounds like suburban sheriffs, and targeting not only Gamescom staff or booth staff, but also involving visitors in their excesses, then that's going a big step too far . In retrospect, the events are hardly comprehensible, despite countless video evidence or statements by those involved or witnesses.
Don't react, prevent
What do you have to learn from this? Because you can't control such situations on site at Gamescom, you have to make them more difficult in advance: Stricter rules when selecting influencers as "content creators" seem to be unavoidable. Because no matter how popular the influencers are, only very few fulfill their task as information brokers. Instead, "special rights" are abused in order to misbehave. The crowd of channel fans is then used particularly perfidiously as a protective shield and tool to exacerbate disputes in social media.
The fact is: Something like this doesn't belong at Gamescom. It doesn't belong anywhere.
The organizers must now learn their lessons for the coming year. Influencer campaigns belong in the protected and organized area of stands and with partners: autograph sessions or meet-and-greet campaigns with fan favorites at the booths of social media platforms or hardware partners show that meeting with the fans can also be calm, civilized, but above all family-friendly.
It's not always intentional when influencers cause chaos. The appearance of the streaming star "Montanablack" caused a worldwide sensation. It was the sheer mass of fans that followed their darling through the Gamescom areas. Not without pushing other visitors away or even offending them. You could have thought of it anyway - and saved yourself the action better. You can currently read a large number of opinions that did not agree at all with what many a "creator" had shown of themselves.
Now you can dismiss the few isolated cases as such and hope for improvement. As an organizer, however, there is a little more responsibility. With thousands of visitors, some of whom want to or have to jump into the crowd anyway, disputes - especially fueled by bystanders - can become a real safety risk.
Also annoying for the organizers: around 265.000 visitors were counted at Gamescom 2022 - only a few misbehaved. However, they dominated social media and carried out the disputes in two public places. How does this affect families with children? Maximum intimidating.
Yes, influencers are now an integral part of the gaming scene, but a free pass for questionable social issues or even rabid behavior cannot be derived from the popularity of internet celebrities. You don't have to ban them, but create a framework. And: In the end, everyone is asked not only to prevent such scenes from happening again, but also to draw something positive from the “influencing”. Responsibility is the keyword. And it applies to everyone: the content creators, publishers, stand operators, event organizers and consumers.
At Gamescom, it may also be a matter of going back to the roots: it's about games and having fun with them. Celebrate games, celebrate the community, but don't celebrate individual personalities from the scene, most of whom will probably be long forgotten by the next Gamescom. And certainly does not celebrate their violent excesses or disputes. That has no place at Gamescom and shouldn't have a place in the games scene either.