More than 265 000 visitors headed to Cologne in Germany for Gamescom last week – the world’s largest computer and video games fair. As well as the latest games releases, they got a chance to discover that ESA and the gaming world have a lot in common.
As ever, the most anticipated event of Gamescom was the live show on the opening night. Packed with game reveals and surprises, it attracted a capacity turnout at the venue, as well as 12 million online viewers.
This year’s Opening Night Live event had a very special surprise guest who put ESA in the spotlight – ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. She delivered a message from the International Space Station congratulating the games industry for inspiring young people about space and space exploration.
Gamescom 2022 saw ESA’s largest presence at the fair to date. In addition to Samantha Cristoforetti’s video appearance on the main stage, ESA had a very popular stand in the jobs and careers hall, and also contributed to the conference programme with a presentation that showed how gaming supported ESA space missions.
Emmet Fletcher, Head of ESA’s Branding and Partnerships Office, described how Gamescom provided a natural platform for sharing ESA’s activities with a wider audience. “Games have the power to allow everyone to experience ESA’s world. As such, it is only natural that gaming and space exploration go together so well,” he said.
The close links between game worlds and ESA’s real-world space missions was the focus of a presentation by Lionel Ferra, the founder of ESA’s XR-Lab at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany. He explained to an audience of games professionals how technology and techniques from the games industry are helping ESA to explore our Universe.
One example was how Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are used for simulations that help astronauts to prepare for missions. Another crossover from the gaming world is the use of haptic feedback from games controllers. This technology provides feedback through the sense of touch and is being used by ESA to control robot rovers and robotic arms.
Meanwhile, ESA’s stand in the jobs and careers hall attracted gaming fans of all ages and backgrounds. Visitors tried out a specially gamified version of the VR technology that ESA uses to train astronauts. They also discovered the wide variety of job opportunities available at ESA, beyond that of astronaut.
Lucy van der Tas, Head of Talent Acquisition at ESA, noted how gaming was a great way to reach a new pool of talented individuals. She added, “There are a lot more people out there today, after Gamescom, who now realise that ESA could be the place for them, too.”
ESA has an established track record of partnerships with games developers and continues to offer expertise and assets that benefit their businesses and raises ESA’s profile. Emmet Fletcher reflected on the success of Gamescom 2022, saying, “Gamescom has been a great platform to raise awareness with developers about the ESA resources available to them, including imagery, models, data, experts and filming locations.”
If you are a fan of computer and video games, watch this space for exciting news about ESA and upcoming games titles!