It is with deep sadness that we have to announce that our esteemed colleague and friend, Prof. Markus Hettlich passed away on June 3.

A physicist by training, pilot, and teacher, he had been involved in the development of the Cologne Game Lab since the institute’s early beginnings in 2010 – first as a freelance lecturer, from 2016 as an interim professor, and from 2017 as a professor of game programming – he essentially designed the curriculum of this major.

His own path led him from studying physics with a focus on atomic and molecular physics at the University of Cologne, via a preclinical semester of medicine at the University of Hamburg, to software development. In 1977, Markus wrote his first commercial application on a Canon BX1 for a civil engineer. In 1989, he co-founded Nanocomp Electronic GmbH, which he left four years later with the wish to concentrate fully on software development. As an independent developer, Markus created a wide range of applications, from large-scale media facades to mobile games. In the mid-90s, Markus decided to specialize in the development of digital games. His work focused on small to medium-sized projects for children, but he also participated in larger projects.

Markus was a passionate teacher and mentor for his students, imparting his own fascination for computer science and technology. His spectrum was enormous. There was simply no technical question to which he could not come up with an answer. Markus was also committed to the Children’s University, which he repeatedly held at the institute with great pleasure. With his unpretentious manner, he easily found a direct connection to the children. Markus was also a gifted and successful researcher – the project “Procedural Creation of Game Elements (PES),” which was carried out in cooperation with Ubisoft, is one of the most highly endowed projects in games research in Germany.

“Markus was a walking encyclopedia when it came to informatics issues, and yet for all his technical expertise, he was a highly artistic person. He understood how to combine technology and artistic practice in a wonderful way. Although his nature was rather reserved and never loud, he was a very empathetic and approachable colleague and friend. For more than 20 years, we knew each other and shouldered many a joint project outside and inside the university. His invaluable work for the Cologne Game Lab helped create a unique place for the university education of young game developers in North Rhine-Westphalia. Markus has ensured that the field of computer science is perceived as a creative discipline at the institute. Dear Markus – I miss you, we miss you. In spirit, we will keep you in our midst.”

Prof. Björn Bartholdy
Co-Director of the Cologne Game Lab and friend of Markus Hettlich