Spiel des Jahres Awards
There's no prize money in winning a Spiel des Jahres award. No shortcut to fame and fortune. No sudden glory. The winner may use the logo for their marketing, although there are licensing costs for doing so and the economic benefits in terms of sales is considerable. However, the Spiel des Jahres prize has, in its 30 year history, become the biggest and most sought after award in the world for table top games.
The reason for its growth is simple. The jury members represent the tastes of the German public at large and the German public have very specific requirements for a good game. The core of these requirements are:
- That a game should have broad appeal to ordinary people and should not be difficult to learn. No heavy manuals and combat tables. Easy rules are key to family fun.
- That a game does not exclude anyone. Nobody goes broke, nobody is left behind. Everybody plays until the end.
- That it is collaborative rather than combative. Games with competition are still important. Winners are still important. but take as the best example: 'The Settlers of Catan'. Nobody can win the game without trading resources. Therefore, even when someone wins, it is with the help and support of others. A more extreme example is 'Pandemic' whereby it's everyone versus the game. You all win together or lose together.
- Decisions are more important than luck. Gone are the roll and move ideals of 'Monopoly' or 'Game of Life'. Players should be able to win based on skill. How else can you have those dirty, underhanded, gang up on Dad nights. (In case you haven't realized, I'm the Dad. But I can give as good as I get.)
- Fun to the end. How many times have you played a game whereby it's completely obvious who is going to win but you still have to play another half an hour to get to the end? It's not much fun is it? Games should make every player think they have still have a chance, even if they don't.
The Spiel des Jahres awards has built a community of games over the years that are really fun to play and can be enjoyed by any member of the family. But that's not to say that the connoisseurs are ignored. There's a category for complicated games called the Kennerspiel des Jahres. There's also a category for kids called the Kinderspiel des Jahres. In this way, everyone is represented.
A game that wins an award is allowed to put the logo on the box for three consecutive years after the win. A game that is nominated can put the three award logo on the back of the box for two years. This is why you won't see a logo on the boxes of older winners but we've taken care to highlight the awards a game has won in the description and you can see all winners that we have in stock in the 'Spiel des Jahre' collection.
But the best thing about the Spiel des Jahres is that they cannot be bought by big publishing houses. In fact, you can't even enter your game into the competition. The most contact that is allowed is that you can email the panel to advise them of your game and they will request a copy if they like what they see. They will then play test everything they have and create a short list of nominees. From that short list, the jury will play and argue and vote until they have a clear winner.
All of this has made the Spiel des Jahres the biggest and most important award in the games industry. If you see the Chess Pawn with the Gold Laurel on a box, you can be sure that the game is worth your money.