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Connecting people on all levels

Florian Masuth, Project Manager games:net Berlin Europe

Florian Masuth is the Project Manager of games:net Berlin Europe, an initiative funded by the Senate Depatment and initiated by medianet berlinbrandenburg e.V. that builds a business and networking platform for the games and digital media industries, connecting the Berlin industry with international partners throughout Europe. With us he talks about his beginnings in the industry, the struggles of connecting people midst a pandemic and what 2022 holds for the project.

You are no stranger to the games industry. Please give us a short overview about your experience so far. 

I started completely out of left field, by accepting a student job with Black Pants Games in Kassel, to do some office management and bookkeeping. There I received the chance to visit events and in general develop into any areas I felt worth investing my time in, and thus I was sucked into the rabbit hole that is this industry. As we are speaking now, I have not found the exit yet and made my way through stations in Hamburg with Threaks, working on the Indie Arena Booth, and Lithuania, running GameOn, the largest gaming event in the Baltic States – until 2020. I relocated back to Germany and took up the mantle of running games:net Berlin Europe. 

Why did you choose to come to Berlin? 

As with all my previous relocations I chose project focused. I know I want to work in the games industry, but beyond that I have been open to just exploring what this ride still has in store for me. I loved what my predecessors here at medianet have done with the previous international programs and was hooked on the opportunity to travel to all my favorite games conferences and meet new people, while helping companies to do the same. In the meantime, I must say that I am growing to like Berlin and can actually imagine myself sticking around a little longer. 

games:net Berlin Europe connects Berlin with international partners throughout Europe. How do you do that, especially during a pandemic? 

That is the million-dollar question we have all been asking ourselves throughout the past years. I have to say that the first time here was hard on me, and I could feel people desperately wanting and needing to connect with others, just as I felt in my one-room-apartment, staring onto the screen, meeting others online. But it just is not the same, and people reflect that back to you. But we were able to try different online formats, snuck in small local meetings here and there in summer, when it felt revolutionary to even meet people who are just from here. And I feel lucky and thankful, this program allows us to keep working and trying without the fear of getting shut down – which was worth a lot! 

What are your plans for 2022, if the pandemic allows business as usual?

We are planning several delegation trips to our European partner countries. If the regulations allow it, we will go to Nordic Game in May, Indigo in June, Develop Brighton in July and GIC Poznan in October. To all of these events, we can take studios from Berlin with us to give them the a networking possibility on an international scale. If you are interested in joining one of our trips, you can get in touch with me or subscribe to our newsletter.

What has been your greatest achievement and hardest challenge so far? 

That is actually one and the same thing. I moved to Lithuania to work on GameOn, but not initially with the scope of running the whole event. After my first year I took over the lead and was thrown into running a team – something I had not done before. I very quickly learned about the pressure and how decisions start to have completely different stakes than before. At the same time, pulling off an event for 20.000 visitors feels so much more surreal and exhilarating. You are exhausted, over the moon and empty at the same time. Deciding to step down and essentially shutting down the project due to the uncertainty of the oncoming Covid-pandemic broke my heart in a way I could not anticipate from “work”. But not to end on that somber note: Every crisis has a silver lining, and here I am. 

The initiative is funded by the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises. What possibilities does this funding entail? 

Well, first of all, as I mentioned before, this funding allowed us to keep the project alive through the pandemic and still connect people. In general, this allows us to support young, up and companies by covering expenses for participation in international events and creating opportunities. I like the European ideal that is baked into the foundation of the project. Connecting companies beyond their region and country, enabling international cooperation and exchange of ideas. 

You are also hosting a podcast, talking to creative minds of the industry. What does this medium have to offer that others don’t? 

We had to learn that connections are not only made by meeting face to face and being able to interview bright minds working in our industry, exploring their viewpoints, and looking behind the professional curtain is just an amazing way of getting to know a person. I sincerely hope the way my co-host Simon and I run the podcast makes the audience feel like they are not only listening to these interesting people talk, but like they are actually connecting with them, while also learning more about the industry.