Messe.TV presenter Klas Bömecke in conversation with Dr. Markus Söder, Bavarian State Minister of Finance at the Spielwarenmesse 2016 in Nuremberg.
Klas Bömecke: Dr. Söder - the opening of the Spielwarenmesse in your home town is probably one of the best dates in your annual calendar - isn't it? Dr. Markus Söder: Definitely a fixed date. I have to admit that as a child I was always annoyed at the Spielwarenmesse. Klas Bömecke: Why? Dr. Markus Söder: Because I always dreamed of testing thousands of toys, but you're not allowed in - because it's not a trade fair for visitors. So for me it was always something mysterious, something almost mystical. So I'm all the more pleased that I can now even open it. Klas Bömecke: Speaking of which - that's a big number. You're not just anyone, but isn't it actually the job of the Minister President to open the Spielwarenmesse? Dr. Markus Söder: He has another appointment this evening and I'm delighted to be able to do it here in Nuremberg. I have to say that the Minister of Finance is also the minister responsible for infrastructure. Because we manage all the state investments in banks, airports and trade fairs. I was also Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the exhibition center for many years. Messe Nürnberg and the Spielwarenmesse are closely linked. It's our most beautiful, greatest and biggest trade fair. Klas Bömecke: Is it also a good thing financially for the state to have such a large trade fair here? Dr. Markus Söder: Trade fairs are always a challenge per se because they are not purely profit-oriented. But the Spielwarenmesse works really well. The Nuremberg trade fair works well. There's a lot going on in the city. Many companies are there, thousands of visitors and a lot of money is left in the city and in Bavaria - that's good, of course. Klas Bömecke: And it's in the right place, because Nuremberg naturally has a long gaming tradition. Dr. Markus Söder: It is true that we have been the stronghold of gaming, we have also had difficult times in our past, but we have also traditionally been a stronghold of craftsmanship and gaming since the Middle Ages. As you can see today, that has of course changed a lot. Today, there is an incredible amount of high tech, an incredible amount of creativity. Klas Bömecke: When you look into your children's playroom or see what young people are playing with today - how much has that changed compared to the past? Can you still develop enthusiasm or do you say it's a different world of games now? Dr. Markus Söder: Some things have changed significantly. Of course, there is a lot more high-tech involved today, all kinds of digital games are available. Children are so much stronger today, they almost advise their parents on every form of digital use. But there are also things that have remained the same. From games like Monopoly, which still exist in different variations. Lego is one of them, which is always a big challenge with my boys, especially at Christmas. So this year, the little one got one of the towers from Lord of the Rings from the Christ Child. A big tower, the one from Isengard. And helping to build that is of course sensational. And a big commitment, of course (smiles). Klas Bömecke: But Lego is now also increasingly going online, with the new theme world that you are launching this year. This is very much linked to apps and actually a little less analog play. Dr. Markus Söder: Yes. Although that will remain. I mean, it's always like that - some people like to play with iPods and the like, but then they also want to pick up a sword, play with a ball or something similar. I think it's the combination that makes it so charming. Klas Bömecke: Let's talk about the Internet for a moment. You are also responsible for this in Bavaria. Internet expansion is one of those topics that is a bit of a pain. Will children near the Czech border have to prepare themselves for not being able to play with apps in the next few years? Dr. Markus Söder: The exact opposite is the case. Children in other parts of Germany will only be able to play with wooden swords - it's different in Bavaria, where we are investing 1.5 billion euros to expand this area. Almost 90% of all municipalities are in the official program. That means we will have fast Internet in every municipality by 2018. So things are going rather well. But that shouldn't be a license to sit in front of a PC all day. Klas Bömecke: Absolutely not. Let's take a quick look at the industry itself. There are also numerous games manufacturers in Bavaria. You once said that Bavarian toy manufacturers are a model industry. What did you mean by that? Dr. Markus Söder: Our exhibitors are also very well represented at the Spielwarenmesse as a global platform. It has to be said that it is an exciting industry. An important one. It will always exist because there will always be children and because there will always be games. Our exhibitors are traditionally at the forefront. And also in competitions with new products, always at the forefront. In this respect, we are happy and proud of it - the region also thrives on it. I also believe that a toy fair in Nuremberg and Bavaria can only survive if there are also good manufacturers in Bavaria - otherwise nobody is interested. In this respect, it's very symbiotic. What's more, everyone pays a lot of taxes, so as Minister of Finance I'm grateful. Klas Bömecke: That's what I think. Last question: What is your favorite game? Dr. Markus Söder: Ah, I have so little time to play, to be honest. That's very rarely the case. When I do, I play with my children and there are two types of games: Either I play Wii, then I have to play Wii - although I "completely lose it" with my children when I play the Wii games Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, for example. The little one really gets me off. Only respect for his father allows him to keep a reasonable distance (smiles). And apart from that, I like playing something like soccer or throwing a ball - that's my favorite thing to do. Klas Bömecke: But politics is sometimes also a bit of a game. Dr. Markus Söder: Yes, but a serious one. Klas Bömecke: Yes, a strategy game.