Image of the game from

[3a/3] The ZHdK VR games showcased at Gamescom 2016

These interviews of ZHdK game design BA alumni Julie Baechtold, Filipe Simonette and Sonja Böckler were conducted at video games fair Gamescom in 2016. I haven’t published this earlier because I had the unrealistic ambition (from today’s point of view) to translate them in both French and German and publish the two versions simultaneously. It would have been a nice symbol, wouldn’t it? So finally, here are these interviews in English, as they were conducted.

Both games were available on VR platforms. A second article is dedicated to the non-VR games.

The game of Julie Baechtold and Filipe Simonette is called Watcher

The game of Sonja Böckler & Michael Müller is called Meantime

This was their first time at Gamescom.

How do you feel after these three days at the Gamescom?

Julie Baechtold. I’ve been standing all day long, three days in a row, so my legs are tired. However, both of us are very happy. We have received a lot of constructive feedbacks and have met many people, seen many games. It was worth the pain.

Sonja Böckler. It was very intense. I have met so many people who want to make games…


What made you want to create games?

Julie Baechtold. At first I was interested in comics and animation. However, interactivity in games is captivating: the persons live a different kind of experience, they are not passive. I wanted to explore the opportunities it creates.

Filipe Simonette. I agree with Julie. I have always enjoyed providing experiences to people and at one point I have felt that graphic design was too limited for that.

Sonja Böckler. Game design is so rich, there are so many possibilities. I played a lot of video games when I was a child. In fact, I have always been interested in mathematics and arts and I didn’t want to choose between the two. This is the solution I have found. Sort of.



Could you describe your game in a few words?

Filipe Simonette. Watcher is a game in which you have to watch over your cubs. As an inside joke we like to say it’s a parenting simulation. It’s an Oculus game in which you communicate with animals by moving your head. You are responsible for their survival.

Sonja Böckler. Meantime is an adventure game in virtual reality. You act by looking at things; there are no other inputs. Inside the game you will discover many stories. It’s a relaxing game.



What are the outcomes of being present and showing your game at the Gamescom?

Julie Baechtold. People found the game mechanics original and interesting. We have found only one game with the same mechanics before ours. Globally, people gave us positive feedbacks and encouraged us to release it.

Sonja Böckler. I have met tons of great people and I am really looking forward to meeting them again at the other events. Today, for example, someone from Oculus tested our game and appreciated it. She came back soon with the last Oculus and gave it to us. She had seen that we still had the dev version. It might work: we might do more games for Oculus (*laughs*). Inside the Gamescom, it is not as crowded in the business as in the public area. Many people stop by your stand and want to know what you do. They also take time to listen in order to know more. It’s a worldwide audience. For example, I’ve met many people from Australia here.


How was the cohabitation on the Swiss booth with the other authors?

Julie Baechtold. We already knew most of the people from our school including those from the previous years. It was also nice to meet people from Lausanne and Geneva.

Sonja Böckler. I have learned a lot. I have loved playing the games created by the other devs. It was fulfilling and might give you new ideas since the other schools are going in other, more experimental, directions. I appreciated that their techniques are shared between interactive design and pure game design. There were also many professionals present on the booth, who already have their own company and who gave us constructive advice.


Will you keep creating games?

Filipe Simonette. I would love to stay in the video game industry, but here in Switzerland it is rather smal.

Julie Baechtold. I think so. What we did during our studies through many projects was really interesting. Now I am going to study one year in an illustration school in France. Currently I need this specialisation, but I am planning to keep doing games.

Sonja Böckler. Totally. Making games is as enjoyable as playing games.

The banner image is taken from Meantime.

Here are some other articles I wrote about last year’s Gamescom.

Yannick Rochat

Yannick Rochat est collaborateur scientifique et chargé de cours au Collège des Humanités de l’EPFL. Il est co-fondateur de l’UNIL Gamelab.