In 2018, indie game developers and filmmakers founded a creative and productive office community, including many Alumni of Animationsinstitut - from Interactive Media to Technical Directing. Since then, the "Kokolores Collective" has been booming. Its space in Ludwigsburg's Weststadt is now considered one of the most important game hubs in Baden-Württemberg. Like the industry, Kokolores continues to grow: The network in the immediate vicinity of Filmakademie will move into new, much larger premises in early summer 2021 and offer students of Animationsinstitut opportunities for creative exchange.
The Ludwigsburg Kokolores Collective currently consists of 30 people from twelve companies, all of whom have something to do with games, interactive media or film. What they have in common is that they share one co-working space near the campus of Filmakademie. But Kokolores is more than just an office community.
"Almost all of the companies have worked together on projects before. Many have known each other since they were students, and there is a personal atmosphere here," says Kathrin Radtke, who organizes the co-working space. "We all fit together super well and also often give each other assignments," the media computer scientist continues. "If someone needs help on a project, you ask the other companies if you can take a look." In addition, they tested each other's products - at least before Corona they came together regularly in infamous playtest evenings, cozy with an after-work beer in the couch corner of the Kokolores space.
Despite the pandemic, the collective is expanding this early summer. "The previous space had been too small for a long time," Kathrin tells us. "When an opportunity to rent in more generous space arose very close to the current space, we jumped at it." Now there will soon be space for more companies to join the collective.
There are quite a few of them, and even the current members are doing so well that they are constantly hiring new staff. Kathrin works as a game programmer for Studio Fizbin. It was founded back in 2011 by Interactive Media graduate Sebastian Mittag directly after his studies Animationsinstitut, together with Filmakademie Motion Design graduate Mareike Ottrand and computer scientist Alexander Pieper. All three met at Animationsinstitut while working on Sebastian's final project.
Since then, the company has launched numerous games and interactive apps, which are particularly known for their extraordinary storytelling, innovative edutainment and original game characters. The company has already received the German Computer Games Award for the interactive installation Spiel des Friedens. Meanwhile, the studio employs about 30 people and has another location in Berlin. Their adventure game Minute of Islands is currently about to be released.
The indie games factory was in charge of founding the Kokolores Collective in 2018. "Fizbin was smaller back then and only had its headquarters in a small room of the current Kokolores space," Kathrin tells us. At the time, the offices were mainly used by the film and TV production company FFL, the Film- und Fernsehlabor Ludwigsburg. This company was planning to downsize at the location, and as Fizbin grew, Sebastian Mittag and Co decided to become the main tenants of the space. However, they could not fill the space on their own and asked around in their network of friendly game companies and filmmakers from the surroundings of Filmakademie its Animationsinstitut. The Kokolores collective idea was born.
The game developer duo Navel showed immediate interest. It consists of Fabian Schaub, who also studied Interactive Media at Animationsinstitut, and computer scientist Thomas Krüger. They worked together on Fabian's diploma game during their studies, brought it to market and simply continued with their own company in Ludwigsburg after graduation.
Navel developed successful party games, such as Mimics or Tilt Pack, in the past years. "We specialize mainly in innovative gameplay," Thomas explains, "we develop prototypes that can then be used in other games." Currently, they were working on rhythm-based controls, among other things.
The two first heard about Kokolores at the Ludwigsburg “Indie-Stammtisch”, a regular meeting of independent game developers. At the time, Navel was sitting in an old Ludwigsburg cogwheel factory, where fancy offices can be rented today. Other former Filmakademie students were also sitting there. "However, we were not particularly happy with the situation there," Thomas recalls. "After all, we pursued the idea of creating a place for graduates of Animationsinstitut where they could realize their potential in Ludwigsburg after graduation. So that you don't always have to go abroad or to Berlin." The Kokolores idea was ideal for this.
From the cogwheel factory, they immediately brought along a few more friendly companies and freelancers. First and foremost, the creative and advertising agency with a focus on gamification and new media, Pixelcloud. It was founded by former Interactive Media student Jonas Kirchner, who graduated from Animationsinstitut in 2014 with a degree in Transmedia & Games Producing. Pixelcloud develops award-winning, interactive AR/VR applications and games for renowned companies such as Puma, Siemens and Mercedes.
When Pixelcloud became part of the collective, freelancers who worked with the agency also moved into the Kokolores space. For example, Animationsinstitut alumnus Julian Oberbeck from the Technical Directing department came on board, as did interactive media developer Christoph Rasulis. Both work as freelancers in the film, game and creative industries. In addition, independent motion designer and Filmakademie graduate Patrick Poelchau enriched the collective. Film and game startup Trapped Predator also rented tables at Kokolores.
Another independent Interactive Media graduate from Animationsinstitut who rented space was Transmedia/Games Director Marcel Durer. He is responsible for the latest addition to the Kokolores collective. In December 2019, he and Moritz Mugler, who studied Transmedia/Games Producing at Animationsinstitut, brought a branch of the think tank and networking agency Wegesrand into the Kokolores space. For the agency, Marcel develops products in the field of edutainment and playful learning as a concept developer and project manager. For example, Moritz and he are responsible for the game Felicitas Fogg - In 80 Karten um die Welt of the foundation “Deutschland Sicher im Netz”.
Moritz and Marcel now have three coworkers and are currently looking for more. For Marcel, it's clear that the growth of his agency is happening within the Kokolores space.
We all come from similar backgrounds here in terms of content. So it's only natural that we work together, help each other and move each other forward. There is a concentrated creative competence here.Marcel Durer
Almost all members of the space are on a growth course. The "concentrated competence," as Marcel calls it, has not gone unnoticed by politicians neither. The Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg, the state's media funding agency, considers the Kokolores Space one of the most important game hubs in Baden-Württemberg. Even Baden-Württemberg's minister of research has stopped by. "The move to the Kokolors collective was worth it for us for that reason alone," says Thomas von Navel. "We are perceived as a lighthouse project. That's already enabled us to get some funding for ideas and projects."
When it comes to young talent, the proximity and still existing connection to Animationsinstitut pays off for the Kokolores Space. Time and again, students from the institute help out with projects as interns or find a job after graduation, most recently, for example, producing graduate Jana Günther at Wegesrand.
It will be interesting to see what else will be created in the Kokoloroes network in the future.
At FMX 2021 from May 4-6, you can get insights into the games market in Baden-Württemberg. At the live studio panel “What’s next? Charting the different roadmaps available to game and XR developers to bring their innovative ideas to life“, Kathrin will be joining as panelist for Kokolores and will report on the bright prospects and developments on the Baden-Württemberg games market.