In the series "Alles auf Anfang: Erfolgreiche Gründer blicken zurück auf ihre Studienzeit" (Everything at the beginning: Successful founders look back on their student days), Wirtschaftswoche Gründer asks start-ups about their beginnings and their development. Alumni of the colleges and universities that produced the most exits last year according to an evaluation by the PR agency Tonka answer the questions. At the turn of the year, Eike Langbehn from the University of Hamburg and the start-up Curvature Games reported in an interview on the initial impulses, how his studies contributed to today’s successes and how the support went.
“It was clear to me early on in my youth that I would like to develop computer games as a career. This medium has so much potential as the leading cultural medium of the 21st century and I definitely wanted to be part of advancing this. I think computer games are enormously important because their unique selling point is interactivity,” the founder explained in an interview with Wirtschaftswoche Gründer. Unlike in a book or film, you don’t just passively watch the protagonists – you become the protagonist yourself. For him, a serious difference.
“In 2012, I had my first job as a developer in the industry – and I didn’t like everything. For example, how little influence you often have on the result as an individual, or the working conditions with little income and lots of overtime,” Eike describes his first experiences with the games industry.
Eike’s first participation in a scientific experiment with VR and redirected walking in 2014 he saw as a kind of scientific initial spark: “A few months later, I was then a research assistant myself at the University of Hamburg and did research on these technologies. The fascination for this new medium – especially its possibilities in the field of interactive storytelling – hasn’t let me go since and motivates me to this day.”
The realisation to found his own studio in order to actually have a say in the direction in which games develop slowly matured during the years he spent researching virtual reality as a scientist. The trigger for the foundation was finally the completion of his doctoral thesis and the interest of Dennis Briddigkeit and Hannah Paulmann in tackling it together.
The University of Hamburg, which occupies a shared third place in the Exist ranking, had made a major contribution to the founding of Curvature Games with its research project: “The project produced a lot of fundamental findings that we could build on. In addition, the support of our Exist mentor – also my doctoral supervisor Frank Steinicke – was very helpful in applying for the Exist grant, which laid the financial foundation for our start-up.” Both the university’s start-up service and the beyourpilot start-up advisors Dr. Andrea Otto and Dr. Bettina Otto provided support in drafting the EXIST application in spring 2019. As further examples of Hanseatic start-up support, he mentioned the university start-up centre Startup Dock as well as the Kreativgesellschaft as a municipal sponsor with its location initiatives Next Media and Gamecity Hamburg.
The young founders were also greatly helped by the networks and contacts they brought with them from their previous jobs: “Hannah and I already knew some people from the games industry. Dennis was well networked in the agency sector and was able to bring contacts to freelancers, for example experienced graphic designers.”
About Curvature Games:
In spring 2019, Eike Langbehn started a virtual reality project with Dennis Briddigkeit and Hannah Paulmann under the name Space Walk, whose special feature is a series of small manipulations in perception. The University of Hamburg’s start-up service and the cross-institutional consultancy of beyourpilot supported the successful EXIST application, among other things. Finally, at the beginning of 2020, the startup was transformed into the capital company “Curvature Games GmbH”. As a VR expert, Eike is responsible for programming and game design – and with his doctorate in human-computer interaction in 2019 he laid the scientific foundation for the first projects. Today, Curvature Games sees its future in large arcades with VR services and event locations such as the so-called escape rooms.
Source: Wirtschaftswoche founder series “Alles auf Anfang: Erfolgreiche Gründer schauen zurück auf ihre Studienzeit” (Everything from the beginning: Successful founders look back on their student days)