On the 6th of August 2020, Ingo Horn was given the great honour to receive the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. At a, not only because of Covid-19, very special concession in the Red City Hall of Berlin with some selected guests from the gaming industry, Ingo Horn was honoured for his long lasting commitment and ambition for doing good. As founder of Gaming-Aid e.V., he opened the doors for the gaming industry in Germany for charity work and to help people in need. Moreover, Ingo started this next to his daily business, where he is working for Wargaming.net. At the developer of World of Tanks he started as PR Manager GSA and is the Communications Director Europe today.
Around seven years ago, you have founded Gaming-Aid. What was your first idea behind it?
I was tired of just petting the shoulder of someone who is in need and say some empty phrases like "heads up my friend, all will be good". I wanted to do more, I thought about ways to really help those people. And there were two cases, that filled my inner bucket, namely Marlies and the young Tim Louis, where I heard about their destinies and was at the point to really start something now. Something less bureaucratic, something where the help will reach those people and their families directly and in a short period. I thought about the best ways to build an organisation where you are able to invite similar minded people, had some researches what would fit best and what would be the easiest kind of organisation to establish in Germany, so we ended up with the registered association (e. V.).
Can you tell us about the first years? How was your idea received in the gaming industry, what was the hardest time for Gaming-Aid and what gave the final spark to write this success-story?
The first year really was a pain in the ass. We always had the problems that people did not realize what our intention was. We (Tahsin Avci and me) had many problems to convince people about our intention. We often had the feeling, that the people we are talking to, did not believe that we really want to do good things with the money or things we are asking for, it felt that they thought we would like to raise our salary in this way. Until we found the first open ears and people that believed in our vision, it was so much knocking on doors that closed when we asked for help. Some people said that they could spend some money, but as soon as we asked for help within the organisation, doors closed again. And in the beginning we didnt had the official title of the"benefit to the public”, so some people even didn’t gave the money they offered at first, because we couldn’t give them any contribution receipt. Therefore, the first year was really pretty hard. Also, we really had a hard time at the start to find a bank where we could open our official account. Most banks where asking about an estimation of revenue, of donations or possible number of members in the future, some of them even were sceptical because we were engaging the gaming industry. And without an official account you can’t start your organisation. So we were really happy that we got full support after the first talks with the Stadtsparkasse Berlin, which were fully supportive from the beginning.
The final spark was at one hand that the GAME Association became a member of our organisation and their support made us more trustworthy in many eyes of other people. On the other hand, Tahsin spearheaded to get the official entry for the benefit to the public, where he had the luck to receive full support from a very nice lady from the local tax office in Berlin, who gave us the right hints for the correct wording for our articles of association, so the local court could greenlight our entry within the first approach, which was last second between Christmas Eve and New Year. Because otherwise we would have to wait for a full more year, which thankfully was not needed. This gave us now the opportunity to give out contribution receipts, which was really opening the hearts and purses from developers and publishers.
Moneywise the biggest boost was the first “Friendly Fire” (charity stream) by Mikkel Robrahn and with big names like Gronkh, PietSmiet and many others, who collected in a 16h stream 125.000 Euro, which was fully donated to Gaming-Aid. With this money we built the way together with Wolfgang Walk and Kai Bodensiek and many others for the Gaming-Aid-Stipendium, which is used for people that can’t afford their education in the gaming industry, to make their dreams happen.
You did this all from Berlin - in which ways did it help you to work from the capital of Germany?
The support of the media:net berlinbrandenburg with their established network helped a lot, cause they invited us to their joint convention booth at the gamescom, Berlin events like the Quo Vadis, gamesweekberlin and the Match Making Dinner. Those events were good to spread our message and to get new members and the needed attention. Being located in Berlin also helps to network more in person because you have many companies from the gaming industry being located in the capital.
Some years ago, you have left Gaming-Aid because the workload was overwhelming with the growing of Gaming-Aid and your work at Wargaming. To give the best chances for Gaming-Aid to help people in need, you gave the management in other hands. However, more or less at the same time, you already started your next project with LetsPlay4Charity. Can you tell us a bit about this time and about LetsPlay4Charity?
With charity streams like “Friendly Fire” and "Loot für die Welt", I first realised about the people behind these events and that there are many individuals that want to help as well. But as a private person with your twitch channel, you have the problem with the taxes. So when you are collecting money and give this to an organisation to help, you still have to pay the taxes. Therefore, my idea behind LetsPlay4Charity is a sort of collective, more or less the middlemen between the influencers and the organisation for which they are collecting the money.
What are your wishes for the future with LetsPlay4Charity?
During times of Corona where no live events are about to happen and we can’t do livestreams for example from gamescom or EGX this year, I would wish for "donations" for the Youtube- or Twitch-channel. But not moneywise, instead donations of videos or livestreams to fill the channels with all kinds of different content.
What advice would you give to the audience? What can we all do to help people in need, especially the gaming industry?
Know where your heart is, be thankful if you are fit, healthy and blessed with a good job, but share your "wealth" with others in need who doesn’t have the same luck as you. Find a charity or institution you wish to support, no matter if its Gaming-Aid, LetsPlay4Charity or any other institution of your trust, or if you don’t want to engage with money, then reach out with a helping hand for your neighbours, elder people or any other people in need.
Thank you very much Ingo and all the best for your charity!