Bundeswehr at the Gamescom: And then the fighter jet does not even lift off


I made myself comfortable in the ejection seat. Quickly lash down the virtual reality glasses, and then you can start: In front of me I see the cockpit of the Bundeswehr fighter jet Tornado. With the help of headphones, a Bundeswehr soldier gives me instructions on which buttons to press, so that the jet is ready to go. In fact, the soldier is right behind me.

Because this is not a VR simulation like many others that will be presented at the Gamescom Games Fair, which takes place this week in Cologne. The ejection seat, on which I sat down, belongs to the Gamescom state of the Bundeswehr, the here Gamer wants to win as a recruit, Because I play a lot myself, I'll just try out how the Bundeswehr tries to appeal to players like me.

At the VR simulation I notice immediately: Compared to the jets from the online shooter Battlefield is the graphics really bad. For that I can operate with my hands every single button in the cockpit. Does that mean for me: hatch closed, engine on, full power ahead?

What the Bundeswehr lacks are IT specialists. Since there is no compulsory military service, the army must be like any other company to recruit employees, The fact that she tries this at Gamescom is obvious at first glance: gamers often spend hours dealing with battle tactics. And they usually know about computers as well.

Job market

  1. Technical University Munich, Munich
  2. hubergroup Germany GmbH, Kirchheim near Munich

And so at the Bundeswehr stand, more than 13 employees in uniform are standing on a small exhibition area, trying to address the fair visitors who pass by only a few. In addition to the fighter jet simulator, there is a reaction test in which volunteers have to hit a plastic wall as soon as a light spot appears. There's also a long, camouflaged table with six particularly sturdy laptops that I'm sure will be used in Afghanistan. Among other things, visitors can solve a quiz there – but lack of volunteers soldiers here click through the questions.

Already on the way to the exhibition halls, a poster of the Bundeswehr greeted me at the subway, trying to pick up on the player jargon. "Singleplayer or comrade?" stands on it. Hundreds more are hanging in the metropolitan area of ​​Cologne, including slogans such as "Pay2Win vs. Real Skills", With Pay2Win payment content is meant in games that give players and players benefits.

At the last Gamescom the Bundeswehr advertised with similar slogans – polarizing it on Twitter and in media, To belittend it seemed many to link computer games so closely with the service of the weapon. On the stand itself, which was then built on a large area and equipped with large vehicles midway between the game manufacturers, was, however, everything was quietObservers reported. Elsewhere, the Bundeswehr came up against criticism with its presence at events for internet-savvy visitors. After a controversy in the previous year, the organizers of the Re: publica 2018 did not allow any more Bundeswehr advertising stands.

Between constitution protection and BKA

At the current Gamescom, it presents itself again – albeit much smaller than in previous years. The stand shrank from 300 square meters of exhibition space to one hundred, and he is no longer in the middle between the Games exhibitors, but in the training area of ​​the fair on the first floor, between those of colleges, Mercedes-Benz, the Constitutional Protection and Federal Criminal Police Office. There is much less public traffic there.

Because the Bundeswehr is looking for new talent in the IT sector, it is part of the Jobs and Careers wing this year, says Kathrin Münker, communication manager of Gamescom. The Bundeswehr is also satisfied with this location on demand. "We are now in 'Jobs and Career' to underline our affiliation"says Lieutenant Nils Feldhoff. It is not his first Gamescom, he has been working for several years at the booth of the Bundeswehr. "The new location is the better way for legitimation and communication."

It is crucial to attract those who find their way here. But while lucky wheels rattle next door and pinball machines are flashing, the Bundeswehr stand with its camouflage nets looks like an unobtrusive gray-green blob on the pink carpet in the hall.

In the fuselighter's VR simulator, where I'm sitting, the turbines are now howling. I want to start rolling, take off – and nothing happens. Wait a moment. Can not I even fly in the Bundeswehr flight simulator? That could already be the game series Falcon from the 80s better. Disappointed, I get off. The other visitors who look up from the ejection seat after me also look similar. Of course, the Bundeswehr also has simulators that can take off. But she did not bring her.