Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational individuals from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Ulrike Küchler, CEO & Founder of Gamebook Studio. She speaks about how her diverse roles in the entertainment industry shaped her approach to interactive entertainment, emphasizing the importance of aligning various components for success. Read more about Ulrike here:
Hi Ulrike! Your journey includes roles such as Executive Producer, Game Producer, Game Consultant, and University Lecturer. How did these different roles shape your approach to interactive entertainment, and what lessons did you carry from one role to another?

My creative, producing, and mentoring roles complement each other. I’ve worked in these roles indifferent areas across the creative industries such as broadcasting, journalism, music, TV & film, and gaming. While all these industries create special experiences, their approaches to innovation,audience engagement and value chains differ. Approaching them from various roles provided my with a deep understanding of these differences and enabled me to create synergies and new interactive opportunities.

When reflecting on key lessons I carried from those roles, one that continues to shape my daily decision making is that a critical success factor for any interactive project lies in being able to align and connect its contributing components in the best way: team, creative vision, business case,technical framework, production approach, data and market fit. If any of those does not fit the others,it will reflect in what you build.

The team members need to trust each other and enjoy building and testing new ideas fast, so they can release something unique and fun. Along this way, it’s crucial for the creative vision to maintain focus on the core experience while staying open to removing elements not serving it. In turn, this alone will not carry far when not complemented by a business case that carries long term and fits the audience. At the same time, the technical integration of both needs to be flexible enough to make fast adjustments when the market or technological advancement shift. And the production approach needs to allow for iterative execution that helps validate the key pillars of the projects early on. All based on a reliable data framework and market insights, especially in a volatile environment such as today.

In the end, though, it all comes down to what is probably the most important: Always trust youraudience.

From your time as a Finance Manager/Producer to being the CEO and Co-Founder of Gamebook Studio, you’ve navigated various aspects of the entertainment industry. Can you share a pivotal moment or challenge that significantly influenced your career path and the direction of Gamebook Studio?

On a personal level, one such moment was probably the one that prompted me first to think about ways to connect interactive content and daily delivery. Twenty years ago, when I worked in broadcasting, the station introduced a new program and tasked my team to implement it. It had three goals: connect people around the world, roll out as a series with a long term content strategy, and expand what happens on air to the digital space. We achieved that with an interactive web platform that turned the daily program into an interactive experience for the audience, connected to their data and feedback. The work on this platform changed my perspective: Until then, the games I played and the serial content I produced belonged into two distinctly separate worlds. This was the first time I thought about bringing the best of those two worlds together.

On an industry level, I think we experience such a moment as you describe it right now: In the last months, the gaming market has reached its largest size ever with segments that connect to value chains of other industries growing faster than any other parts. At the same time, new audiences with new engagement behaviours such as Gen Z are gaining an increasing commercial impact. Lastly, market shifts introduced by the likes of IDFA, Blockchain and AI promote a very versatile environment, but also space for new product visions and business cases.

This environment offers a great opportunity for the gaming industry to lead creative innovation. One that I see connected to three key challenges: The importance of creating unique experiences and IP that have the potential to engage audiences for years. The ability to do this in a production, business and technical framework that is scalable across platforms, flexible in terms of monetization, able to react to trends quickly and comes with a long term content strategy. The openness to share and adapt the learnings of the gaming industry to other industries.

These current developments reinforce the mission we set for our studio a few years back: to focus on creating new play experiences across platforms for which we deliver seasonal content – a distribution model that is a proven success story in so many other industries.

What legacy or impact do you hope to leave on the gaming industry through the work of Gamebook Studio, and how can aspiring game developers contribute to the positive evolution of the industry?

Looking at the market today, I see a whole untapped generation of players and creators that embraces the unique power of games: the ability to make decision making fun and thereby create change that reaches beyond the boundaries of the gaming market.

Looking forward, our studio’s goal is to offer this generation not only new memorable games but also easy to use tools to create these experiences themselves.

Part of this is the commitment to build a positive and empowering environment where creatives can focus on building the best games. I believe that we can all contribute to such an environment: by bringing diversity, variety and an openness for new ideas to our teams and games

Thanks for this interview, Ulrike!

Ulrike’s links: LinkedIn

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Madeleine Egger