We all love games. These can be found under different names such as children’s games, board games, family games, or board games everywhere in the trade. But also game collections, party games, dice games, or laying games are known.
Did you know that a jury awards different games every year? You can find out what the “Game of the Year” and the “Connoisseur’s Game of the Year” or “Children’s Game of the Year” are all about here.
How long have the awards been in existence?
The idea was provided by WDR journalist Jürgen Herz. He came up with the idea of choosing a “Game of the Year” on the occasion of a toy fair in February 1978.
It was not difficult to convince like-minded people of the idea. And so he founded the association “Spiel des Jahres e. V.” in 1979 with some friends, publishers, game designers, and journalists.
The first election took place in the autumn of 1978. However, since the award ceremony was not yet completely regulated organizationally, it had to be repeated. The first official award ceremony, therefore, did not take place until 1979. And interestingly enough, the same game: “Rabbit and Hedgehog” by David Parlett (Ravensburger).
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Who chooses the Game of the Year?
Every year, a jury of members of the association awards this prize. The members work as game critics for German media. Currently, the jury consists of 10 people. Since 2018, Harald Schrapers (from “Spielbox”) has been the chairman of the association, which also decides on the admission of new members.
Where do the nominated games come from?
The games are selected and compiled by the jury. The selection procedure has changed several times. Initially, there were selection and nomination lists with up to 12 games. Then lists with nominations of 3 games. Currently (since 2011) there are only 3 nominated games left, one of which wins. In addition, there have been so-called “recommendation lists” since 2004.
What criteria does the jury use to select?
Important for the selection is that it is a game from the current year. The 2018 game must therefore be from mid-2017 to March 2018.
The jury pays attention to the following points in the selection, which it also lists on the website:
Game idea (originality, playability, game value)
Rule design (structure, clarity, comprehensibility)
Game material (functionality, processing)
Graphics (cardboard, game plan, rule)
What other price categories are there and how do they differ?
In addition to the election for the “Game of the Year”, there is also the election for the “Children’s Game of the Year” and the “Connoisseur’s Game of the Year.”
The “Game of the Year” is intended for German-language board and card games. One of the most famous winning games is, for example, “The Settlers of Catan”.
The same jury has been selecting the “Children’s Game of the Year” since 2001. Its predecessor was the “Special Prize Children’s Play.” With this prize, the jury wants to draw parents’ attention to outstanding games that are suitable for children up to 8 years of age.
Since 2011 there is the “Kennerspiel des Jahres” as the third main prize. The prize is intended to make experienced players aware of novelties. This refers to people who have been playing for a long time and have a lot of experience learning new games.
Current winners 2018:
This year, the following games have been won:
Game of the Year: “Azul”
Children’s Game of the Year: “Sparkling Treasure”
Connoisseur’s Game of the Year: “The Quacks of Quedlinburg”
Well-known winning games since 1979:
You can look up all the winners on the “Game of the Year” website. But you may know some of these winners:
Game of the Year:
1983: Scotland Yard
1995: The Settlers of Catan
Children’s Game of the Year:
2005: The Little Ghost
2009: The Magic Labyrinth
Connoisseur Game of the Year:
2011: 7 Wonders
The winners and also the games on the recommendation lists are clearly purchased recommendations for end customers. They also speak for good quality. But since classics like Monopoly and Scrabble aren’t winning games, you can’t assume that non-nominated games are bad.