Author game

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Author's games are modern parlor games ( board games and card games ) that are devised by game designers and that have certain characteristics in terms of subject matter, implementation and design. Most of the time, the authors are also named on the game box. This is not the case with classic board games such as Halma , Mensch ärgere Dich nicht , Risk , Monopoly , Cluedo and Scrabble . The transitions between author games in the narrow sense of the word and other board and card games designed by a well-known creator, such as those of the 3M Company ( Twixt , Oh-Wah-Ree ), are partly fluid. It is therefore not always possible to clearly classify a particular game.

In the English-speaking world, author games are also known as designer games or German games . The latter name has established itself, although a number of these games now come from authors who do not come from Germany. The term German-style games (games in the German style) has therefore become far more common . This pays tribute to the fact that the trend towards author games, especially in the initial phase, was largely triggered by developments in Germany. The term German-style games does not refer to the origin of the game or the author, but describes that a game fulfills certain characteristics.


Klaus Teuber

One of the most famous game authors in the world is Klaus Teuber , who developed a milestone in the author game with the game The Settlers of Catan . Other well-known games by Klaus Teuber are committed to the nobility , Barbarossa and the riddle master , explorer and lionheart . Among the most important full-time game designers are Reiner Knizia ( Einfach Genial , Euphrat & Tigris , The Lord of the Rings , King Arthur ) , Dirk Henn ( The Palace of Alhambra , Show Manager) , Klaus-Jürgen Wrede ( Carcassonne ) and often with others authors cooperating Wolfgang Kramer ( on axis , El Grande , Heimlich & Co. , 6 takes! , Tikal , Torres ) to name. Reiner Knizia and Wolfgang Kramer in particular have been very successful for a long time and have both invented a three-digit number of games. The best-known non-German game designers include the American Sid Sackson ( Acquire ), who died in 2002, and his compatriot Alex Randolph ( Sagaland ) , who also died in 2004 , the British Alan R. Moon ( Elfenland , Ticket to Ride ) , the French Bruno Faidutti ( without fear and nobility ) and the Italian Leo Colovini ( incognito ) . A number of game designers have come together under the name of game designers guild to form an interest group which, among other things, organizes regular meetings and publishes a magazine. A particular author's list of games is called his ludography .


Author's games are characterized by a number of properties that have largely contributed to their success and popularity and continue to do so. Not every game has all of the following characteristics, but in general the following points are a good description of what constitutes authoring games.

Game material
The material of these games is characterized by a high quality and an attractive design. Game boards and cards are imaginative and appropriate to the theme of the game, whereby professional graphic designers are usually responsible for the graphic design. Toy figures and other small items are often made of wood instead of plastic. Information on the game plan or on maps is almost always represented by pictograms and other graphic representations. On the one hand, this makes it easier for younger children to participate and, on the other hand, it contributes to international dissemination, as often only a translation of the set of rules is necessary.
Set of rules
The rules are kept short and there are no complicated sets of rules with many exceptions and special rules. Thanks to well thought-out game mechanisms, however, an appropriate game depth is achieved, which appeals to both beginners and casual gamers as well as advanced players. The relationship between luck (e.g. by rolling the dice or drawing cards) and the influence of the players through their own decisions is balanced. As a result, those familiar with a game generally have an advantage over newcomers, but this does not have a demotivating effect on newcomers.
Playing time
Most board games last around 60 to 90 minutes, while some board games and most card games last 30 to 45 minutes. The playing time is almost always limited by the game mechanism, so that an extremely long playing time, as is the case with the board game classics Monopoly and Risk , is impossible or very unlikely. The goal of the game is often defined by victory points . Either the player with the most victory points wins after a specified number of rounds, when a deck of cards has been used up or similar specifications, or the game ends when a player reaches a certain number of points.
All players involved in the game participate in the game until the end. A previous elimination or expulsion of players, which is even necessary for victory in Monopoly , for example , does not occur in these games. The mechanism is usually so balanced that at the end of the game the players are relatively close together with regard to their result and an early decision or early falling behind of a player is avoided.
Number of players
The number of possible players varies, but is usually two to four or three to six. The mechanism is usually designed in such a way that the games should be equally playable with different numbers of players, but this does not always work. Corresponding differences are partly compensated by rule variations. In terms of the age of the players, most of the games are very family-friendly, as they appeal to both children and adults through their design, subject matter and set of rules.
Author games are non-violent and without war or combat as a central element. Directly hindering or fighting the opponent is usually not possible or only possible to a very limited extent and is not the determining part of the game. In some cases, mechanisms are included that require a number of players to cooperate in certain phases of the game (for example, alternating in several rounds, such as in Metropolis ), and trading in certain game materials between players is a frequently used game element.
An important element of these games is communication and interaction between the players, for example through the trading or cooperation mechanisms already mentioned. Ideally, every player is involved in the game in one way or another at all times, i.e. even in phases in which it is not his turn to act.
The bestsellers have been expandable for several years. On the one hand, this applies to official expansions that are published by the respective game publishers and add new game elements or expand the number of possible players. On the other hand, these games occasionally also offer the opportunity to vary the rules independently and thus adapt to personal preferences without this having a negative impact on the underlying mechanism.

And even if this has nothing directly to do with the idea and design of these games, it is also characteristic of these games that fan communities often develop that, for example, communicate with each other via the Internet, exchange ideas and experiences or organize game evenings and tournaments.


Author's games have gained significantly in popularity in the last few decades, which has led to an ever better quality and was associated with increasing professionalism in development and marketing. The above properties have developed over time. The current boom in these games began around 1980. In 1988, at the Nuremberg Toy Fair , German game designers demanded the same recognition of their authorship as book authors. In a declaration called "Beer Mat Proclamation", they agreed to only accept contracts that guarantee that the name will be on the box.

One of the first successful games from this period is Civilization , another Scotland Yard . The latter is unusual in terms of the game mechanism, as a single player plays against the other players who cooperate with one another. The game The Settlers of Catan by Klaus Teuber is a milestone in the history of author's games and has achieved tremendous popularity since its appearance in 1995. This game introduced many people to the hobby of board games and thus contributed to establishing board games as a widespread leisure activity also for adults.

Furthermore, with this game, Klaus Teuber initiated the trend of releasing extensions to a game over time. Other games that now have a number of extensions are The Palace of Alhambra , Carcassonne and the card game Bohnanza . Uwe Rosenberg, author of Bohnanza , orients himself with some of his extensions in a humorous way to the extensions to The Settlers of Catan . In recent years, some games have also appeared in new variants, which have a new theme with a similar mechanism to the original game. This applies, for example, to The Hunters and Gatherers and The City as variants of Carcassonne or Adventure Mankind , which is based on the mechanism of The Settlers of Catan .

The popularization of these games was further promoted through the introduction of the “ Game of the Year ” and “ German Games Prize ” awards . The “Game of the Year” award, which has been awarded since 1979, is a critics award given by a jury of specialist journalists. In addition to the main prize “Game of the Year”, a “Children's Game of the Year” has also been chosen since 2001. Both the award itself and the nomination or inclusion on the shortlist are used by the manufacturers for advertising purposes. The main prize in particular increases the popularity of these games considerably and leads to an immense increase in sales. The "German Games Prize" has been awarded since 1990 and is a specialist audience award. The decision is made through a vote in which informed players, specialist journalists and dealers take part. A ranking with placements from one to ten is published. Since 1992, the best children's game has also been chosen here in addition to the main prize. Since 2001, the Austrian game prize “ Game of Games ” has been awarded in one main and six other categories , and since 2002 the “ Swiss game prize” has been awarded in three categories . The games magazine Fairplay has been awarding the “ à la carte card game award” for the best card game of the year since 1991 .

The price "Game of the Year" was awarded the game Dominion is a card game in 2009 for the first time awarded, the "German Games Award" managed this 6 increases in 1994. Winner of both the "Game of the Year" and the "German Games Award" were so far the games Adel obliged (1990) and Die Siedler von Catan (1995) by Klaus Teuber, El Grande (1996) by Wolfgang Kramer and Richard Ulrich, Tikal (1999) by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling and Carcassonne (2001) by Klaus- Jürgen Wrede. The most commercially successful author's games to date, including their expansions and modifications, are The Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne . Millions of copies have been produced and sold since they were first published.

International distribution

Author's games are very popular , especially in Germany . In Australia, Germany is seen as the Hollywood of the board game ("The 'Hollywood' for modern board games is Germany where family gaming is very popular"). A great variety can not only be found in specialized board game stores, author games also have a permanent place in toy stores and department stores. The two most important international events for author's games take place in Germany, namely the Nuremberg Toy Fair and the International Game Days in Essen .

In the US , the market is dominated by large companies that sell their games primarily through television advertising. Author's games in the narrower sense still form a niche, although the corresponding hobby scene has been growing rapidly for several years. This increase in popularity is mainly due to networking via the Internet. For a number of years there have been companies that, due to the growing demand, import original games from Europe and deliver them together with standard translations. Very popular games are now also available in licensed English-language versions.

The author game market is also growing rapidly in the Netherlands . Licensed products from Germany in particular meet with a larger group of buyers there from year to year and have also found their way into department stores. Games are explained directly to interested parties at many events, so that learning the rules is no longer a major hurdle when buying a game.

In South Korea , playing in so-called game cafés is currently a fad that competes with other leisure activities such as going to the cinema or going to bars.

German games are so popular in Japan that Takuya Ono wrote a book about them called Doitsu Game de Shoo! in which he presented 66 games that were awarded at the Game of the Year , Children's Game of the Year , German Games Prize and à la carte Card Game Prize. The game authors Wolfgang Kramer , Klaus Teuber , Reiner Knizia , Alan R. Moon , Andreas Seyfarth and Michael Schacht are also portrayed.

Game publishers


  • Various authors: Taschenbuch Spiel '04. Friedhelm Merz Verlag, Bonn 2003, ISBN 3-926108-54-1 .

Web links

Information and reviews (sorted by age and language)

Individual evidence

  1. Aydin, Karen, 1975-, Ghosh-Schellhorn, Martina, 1955-, Schlange-Schöningen, Heinrich, 1960-, Ziegler, Mario, 1974-: Games of Empires: cultural-historical connotations of board games in transnational and imperial contexts . Berlin ; Münster, ISBN 978-3-643-13880-4 , pp. 365 ff .
  2. ↑ Game designers guild: Historical review - with illustration of the beer mat
  3. Boardgames Australia , start page ( Memento from November 20, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  4. German Games in Japan , Spielbox-News from December 10, 2007 ( Memento from May 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive )