While it may not hold quite the same sway over the games industry's hearts, gamescom, the largest games show in the world, is essentially the European equivalent to games spectacular E3. Packing all the latest releases across several halls of goodness, it's attended by upwards of 300,000 people each year - and it's nearly upon us. Over the space of a few days, the games industry descends on Cologne in Germany, for announcements, interviews and game-playings galore, taking a sneak peak at all the upcoming titles for the next year or so. Being much closer to home, it's an event we've been going to for a few years now - and as such we've picked up a fair few survival tips for the show. Being the nice folks we are, we've decided to share them with you, in the form of five absolutely essential German phrases, sure to get your gamescom off on the right foot.
Being the member of the Everybody Plays staff with the most experience with the language (read: a GCSE from 10 years ago), it fell to me to put together our editor's 'amazing idea' for an article. An amazing idea that brought back the oh-so-painful memories of German grammar, what with it's four cases, three genders, multiple word endings and Yoda-esque sentence structure. But, some five cups of tea later, we've suffered our way through it so you don't have to.
So sit down, grab yourself a pretzel and with out further ado, here's our top five phrases to help you seamlessly blend in with the hoards of Germans that descend on Cologne's convention centre each year:
Ist das stilles Wasser?
Is this still water?
Downright essential, this one is - given Germany's tendency to rocket up to 35 degrees and above in the week of gamescom, being able to ask for a simple glass of water will save your life. You see, unbeknownst to most Britons, the default (bottled) water in Germany is the sparkling stuff, meaning you'll need to specify you want the normal, regular, sensible stuff, lest you take a huge swig before promptly spraying it over the nice lady that gave you it. The number of almost full glasses of clear fizzy liquids we spot, seemingly abandoned - and the occasional grimace you witness when some poor sap takes the first sip of his drink - suggest that this isn't exactly common knowledge. So there you go - all those mistakenly ordered glasses of the stuff we've begrudgingly drunk so as not to upset a friendly booth attendant didn't go to waste after all!
Das Gesicht machen, Sam Lake!
Do the face, Sam Lake!
Okay, okay. We know the folks behind Alan Wake and Max Payne are technically Finnish, but we barely speak German, yet alone Finnish, so this will have to do. It's European, anyway, so probably close enough. For those of you who don't know, Sam Lake is the man who not only wrote Remedy Entertainment's break-through bullet-time shooter hit, Max Payne - he also played the face of the main character, giving him a rather unusual visage he's frequently asked to re-enact. In one of those "it's a small world" style moments, we actually happened to be sharing a hotel with half of Microsoft at gamescom - and actually ended up sharing a lift with the man himself on the way down to breakfast in the morning. Had we been brave enough, we might have asked him ourselves, but… we didn't want to lose our place in the queue for the toaster.
Entschuldigen Sie… Ich habe mein Presseticket von letztes Jahr gebracht…
I'm sorry… I've brought last year's pass…
Everyone makes mistakes, you know? Particularly with all the stress of an imminent foreign trip, what with all the packing to do, timetables to finalise and various tickets to print off. It's all too easy to scroll through your email inbox and accidentally print off the wrong year's press pass - a cock-up that I was kindly reminded of every thirty minutes while there, and whenever gamescom has come up in conversation since. Nevermind that it had "gamescom 2013" emblazoned on the front in big, bold letters, and the slightly smaller, but still as obvious "valid 21.08.2013-25.08.2013" just below - we just temporarily forgot the year was actually 2014, OK? Sheesh. Can also be pronounced as 'Sarah ist ein Dummkopf'.
Es tut mir Leid, aber in England wir verhaften nie für die leere Straße überqueren, wann keine Verkehr kommen.
I'm sorry officer, but in the UK you don't usually get arrested for crossing an empty road when there's no traffic coming.
A funny thing happened to us on our very first visit to gamescom, when we were heading off to an early morning appointment - for Codemaster's latest racing game, F1 2010, if we remember correctly. In a bit of a rush, we legged it across a totally deserted road (that was actually blocked with a stage halfway down, getting ready for a concert later) without waiting for the pedestrian crossing to change - you know, as you do.
Yet it was here we made rookie mistake number 1 - in Germany, do not ever, EVER, under no circumstances whatsoever, cross at a crossing when the man is on red (or anywhere else other than a crossing, for that matter). Ze rules are zere to be followed, auslander. Should you walk across this totally empty road while the little man is on red, despite the fact it's actually shut to traffic, you will get arrested by the German police, and you will be fined 10 Euros each for doing it. But, somewhat conveniently, the German police are practically the only places in Cologne that will accept credit cards - handy if you've blown all your euros on discounted games at MediaMarkt the previous day.
Ja, Ich habe eine Verabredung. Ich habe es fur 2:30 mit Amy bestellt, um eine Spieleauswahlen, von einer weit, weit entfernten Galaxis im Star Flights Battlespace bis dein neues Platform-Spiel heißt Unyarned zu sehen, ohne die schweißige Menschenmassen trotzen. Ja, Amy, von UK PR? Du kennst Amy! Blonde Haare! *blank look* Sie ist in dein Stand… Sie hatte gesagt, sie in deinen Stand würden. Warum du lass mich nicht gehen? Ich brauche deine Spiele sehen! Bitte!
Yes, I do have an appointment. I booked it for 2:30 with Amy from UK PR, to see a selection of your finest games without having the brave the sweaty masses on the show floor, from sampling the galaxy far far away in Star Fights Battlespace to getting our puzzle on in your new platformer Unyarned. Yes, with Amy, from UK PR. You know Amy! Blonde woman? *blank look* She's on your booth... she said she'd be on your booth. Why won't you let me in? I need to see your games! Please!
You'd think EA were packing the crown jewels on their booth with the amount of security they usually have on the front desk. Sometimes feeling more like going through airport security than turning up for a meeting, our very first experience at EA's booth was also the most memorable one, as they'd drafted in the heavies to check people in. With their receptionist-security speaking little in the way of English, trying to get through that yes, we did have an appointment now, and that yes, we needed to get into EA's heavily guarded booth to meet the PR went about as well as trying to teach a fish to fly. In the end we resorted to hovering as close to the entrance as we could get, peering into the booth and attempting to catch the PR's eye - thank god she recognised us...
So there you have it - our top five essential Gamescom phrases. Of course, you could take the easy route and "Sprechen Sie English?" (Do you speak English?) your way out of every situation, but where's the fun in that? To be honest, we think the only reason they hold the event in Germany is so that a load of Europeans can laugh at us butchering their language, before rescuing us with their near perfect English. Some of them even seem to be able to tell just by looking at you that you can't speak German (like the guy who ducked under our photo and said "sorry" in heavily accented German English to us - how did he know?) Still, we wouldn't want to disappoint them.