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German Chancellor Angela Merkel to open Gamescom 2017

Gaming hits the big time

Angela Merkel at G20 Africa Partnership Conference
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen during the G20 Africa Partnership Conference in Berlin on June 12, 2017.
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Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, will appear at Gamescom 2017 in August to open the show, convention organizer Koelnmesse and the German Trade Association of Interactive Entertainment Software (BIU) announced today in a joint statement.

There’s no word on the specific nature of Merkel’s visit to Gamescom. Presumably, “opening” the show entails giving a speech of some kind; the companies said in the news release that the chancellor will “participate in the opening tour.” A representative for BIU told Polygon that the company could not provide further details at this point, except to confirm that Merkel will appear on Aug. 22, the opening day of this year’s show.

Gamescom 2017 will run from Aug. 22-26. As usual, attendance on the first day of the convention is restricted to members of the media; the show will open up to the public on Aug. 23. Last year’s convention welcomed more than 345,000 attendees.

“The visit of Dr. Merkel underlines the importance of the games industry for the cultural, digital and business location of Germany,” said Felix Falk, managing director of BIU. “Germany needs a strong games industry in order to also secure itself a top position in the digitalised economy.”

“The participation of the Chancellor is a sign of great appreciation for us,” added Gerald Böse, president and CEO of Koelnmesse. “With her visit she honours the development of gamescom into one of the most successful and largest events in the German trade fair system.”

It will be the first appearance by Merkel in the history of Gamescom, the gaming convention that has been running annually in Cologne, Germany, since 2009. Merkel has served as the head of the German government since 2005; she is seeking a fourth term in this September’s federal election. With her visit to Gamescom, she may be looking to play to her strengths — an April poll showed that nearly half of first-time voters, those aged 18-21, supported her in the election.

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