The Game Development class had the Long Study Tour in Berlin and Hamburg, Germany. Anyone who has been to these two cities can tell you that they are vastly different and give off different vibes. Berlin is more punk and IDGAF attitude while Hamburg is a scenic harbor town. Hamburg is a romantic lover, Berlin is an angst teen. I fell in love with Hamburg and would love to go back.
We left Copenhagen early Sunday morning and arrived in Berlin in time for lunch which we had on our own at the Hackescher Markt. The sun was out and I had a surreal I can’t-believe-I-am-here moment. Traveling around Europe was never a thing I thought I would do so early on in my life. So I catch myself in awe of my reality and I just remember being really grateful while having lunch at the market.
In the afternoon we went for a long walking tour around Berlin. We went to the famous Brandenburg gate and to the even more famous Berlin wall. I learned a bit about Germany’s complex history. The tour focused on the cause and effect of the separation of Eastern and Western Berlin. We also visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial. The memorial is made out of grey pillars that grow taller as you approach the middle of the memorial. The separated pillars evoke a sense of isolation and dread the deeper you go into the memorial. There is a lot of symbolism that the memorial evokes and you can read more about it here. For dinner, we had traditional German food i.e. sausage and beer.
On Monday we started the day by going to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum. Sachsenhausen was built as a concentration camp during the Nazi regime in Germany. At first, it was built for political opponents, but later increasing numbers of Jews, Roma, disabled, and LGBT people – were sent to the camp as well. Our guided tour was exceptional because the tour guide not only talked about the historical and political facts of the concentration camp but also on the humanity of the victims. The most profound lesson I got from the visit was that the Nazi regime started off as fear and hate of the other. The Nazi regime capitalized on that hate and scaled it up to the point where they executed millions of people. An important lesson to remember especially today as globalism and immigration have led to xenophobia.
Monday evening, we went to the Game Science Center. They had innovative games that you would not normally find. All the exhibits required active participation through body movements, the use of the voice, the movement of the eyes, etc. Next day we visited the University of Applied Sciences to meet with the Game Design faculty and students. We tested out some of their games and also saw the documentation of the students’ thesis. I learned how much goes into creating a deployable game. We also visited the Video Game Museum and had a guided tour of the historical and cultural evolution of games.
Our academic visit was to Bigpoint Games which is a German company that develops stand-alone browser-based games as well as social network games. We talked about the changing nature of the gaming market and how they are adapting to that. We also talked about living and working in Hamburg if we ever wanted to come back and start a career there.
On Thursday afternoon we went for a sex and crime tour at the infamous St. Pauli district. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I’d do a sex and crime tour but it was a pretty interesting and enlightening experience. We walked around Reeperbahn street in St.Pauli which is the city’s major red light district. At Herbertstrasse street the women in the group could not go through the street because it is ‘prohibited for minors and women.’ at the request of the sex workers. The reason being the sex workers ‘don’t want to feel like they are in a zoo’, which makes sense but still I don’t like the idea of prohibition from a public space. Anyway topic for another day.
On Thursday evening we had a group dinner at the Gröninger Private Brewery with developers from two indie game companies; Barrell Roll Games and Rock Fish Games. Again it was German food…all I’m saying is I think I have fulfilled my quota of German sausage for this lifetime. The dinner was set up speed dating style. We talked to the developers about their roles, the joys, and frustrations that come with game development. It was honest and laid back which set a different vibe from traditional networking setups.
Hamburg boat tour and lunch
On the last day, we had a one hour boat tour of Hamburg. This was my favorite part of the trip. I love being near water, it’s deeply therapeutic for me. We saw ships, cranes and the beautiful red brick warehouses It was beautiful. We ended the trip on a high by going to the restaurant NENI Hamburg. 10 out of ten would recommend this place if you are in Hamburg. Amazing food. My tastebuds were in heaven.
All in all, the trip had a good balance of both cultural and academic visits. Shoutout to DIS for organizing all of it – especially the food. I’m glad DIS does not try to ‘cut costs’ by skimping out on good quality food. Shout out also to our professor Benno, John, and the graceful badass Anne.