Board game

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Noble chess players (Germany, around 1320)

A board game is a board game whose distinctive element is a board Schedule / is active on the player with figures, stones or other material. Even a game in which a pure display arises (as in Carcassonne ) is often counted as part of the board game genre, although strictly speaking it is a placement game .

The game board does not necessarily have to be made of wood or one piece. In some games, such as The Settlers of Catan , it is variable and is reassembled before each game. The meaning of the game board is different in each game. For some titles - which in many cases border on the pure game of cards or dice - it almost represents an adapted table of points, for others it is the element that determines the game.

A special quality award for parlor games is the “ Game of the Yearaward . It is considered to be the world's most important game award and is given to German-language games.


Classic board games

Men playing a board game on a sidewalk in Ahmedabad, India

The first board games were played with simple materials. A playing field was drawn in the sand and sticks, stones and shells were used as game pieces. The first complete records of games were not given until the 13th century. The Royal Game of Ur (2600 BC) is considered to be one of the oldest known board games . The Egyptian Senet is for around 2600 BC. Proven. From the time of the Middle Kingdom 's dogs and jackals occupied. The classic board games include

A particularly complicated board game of the Middle Ages was the "philosophy game" Rithmomachie . A group of asymmetric board games there since Hnefatafl the Vikings to the modern game fox games .

Modern board games

Modern board games, beginning in the USA from the second half of the 19th century, were marketed through publishers such as Parker and Milton Bradley (MB). The author's name is now indicated on almost all board games.

If the term of the board game understood expanded to the genera of modern board games and which are of board games largely identical, provided that the latter term is interpreted narrowly, namely, characterized in that Card be excluded.

20th century

Among the classics that were launched in the 20th century are board games such as

In the 20th century, broad strata of the population in Europe and America had free time for the first time, which was not filled with work and housekeeping. This made board games popular. In addition, Mensch ärgere dich nicht was sent to the hospitals during the First World War so that the soldiers could pass the time. Monopoly became popular as a pastime to pass the time of unemployment during the Great Depression.

Monopoly was published in Germany after its success in the United States of America from 1936 to 1938 and again from 1953 by Schmidt Spiele . In Austria, similar games were released under different names from 1936 onwards. Monopoly is one of the most successful board games in Germany and Switzerland and the Monopoly version DKT - The Commercial Talent, published from 1940 onwards, is one of the most successful board games in Austria.

1990s - author and designer games

A Carcassonne token, called a "Meeple", has been a symbol for modern family and strategy games since around the turn of the millennium

Board games such as Scotland Yard (published 1983), The Crazy Labyrinth (1986), Settlers of Catan (1995), Carcassonne (2000, actually more of a puzzle game ), Einfach Genial (2004) or Puerto Rico (2002) are also referred to as author's games , since the responsible game designers are known by name and often deal with games full-time or part-time. Author's games are characterized by the fact that a successful game often includes several expansion sets, expansions and derived games (such as the card game San Juan in Puerto Rico or the expansion Seafarers in Settlers of Catan ).

While in most countries mainly classic board games are played, a diverse scene around author's games has developed in German-speaking countries. In the United States this has led to board games also being referred to as "German Games" and later "Eurogames". According to the chairman of the "Fachgruppe Spiel" association, Ernst Pohle , around 350 new games come onto the market in Germany every year, more than in any other country.

The internationalization of the phenomenon of the renaissance of board games in a new variety is proceeding rapidly. Lively game scenes are forming in the USA, the Netherlands, France and parts of Asia.

More than 600 new products are presented year after year at the game fairs in Essen (in October) and Nuremberg (in February). In addition, the world's most important game award, Game of the Year , is given annually by a jury of game journalists , which is a valuable seal of approval for catalog advertising as well as for the design of the packaging.

From 2000 - growth of the board game market

Board games published 1900–2014 according to BoardGameGeek ; Extensions are marked in red.

Starting with the settlers of Catan and Carcassonne , board and card games have seen an increasing popularity since the 2000s. The number of new releases annually has been relatively constant since the 1980s, increasing steadily in the mid-2000s and then the 2010s. The development of the number of visitors to the games fair SPIEL is evidence of this growth.

Annual visitors to the game fair
Sales of parlor games in Germany in million euros

Asmodee can be named as an example. The publishing house, founded in 1995, is the second largest board and card game publisher after Hasbro after acquisitions and takeovers of small and medium-sized development and design studios in 2018 . In the summer of 2018, Asmodee acquired PAI Partners , a French investment company, for 1.2 billion euros .

Crowdfunding established itself as a further sales channel in the 2010s, primarily through the US platform . Small publishers or private individuals take advantage of the opportunity to realize projects with manageable financial risk that would have had little chance of publication in the programs of traditional publishers. This is particularly beneficial for niche topics, demanding and therefore expensive materials or unusual play concepts.

Crowdfunding has become more professional since the mid-2010s. Circulations and funding sums are increasing and approaching those of classic publishers. Many formerly small publishers became industrial giants. The platforms are often used as pre-ordering , marketing and communication channels without having to rely on the original advantages - relatively low investment risk, willingness to experiment. In 2017, the revenue from the successful Kickstarter campaigns was $ 137 million, well above that of video games ($ 17 million).

Kickstarter campaigns have an impact on the game industry, whether for advantage or disadvantage is assessed differently. On the one hand, the fan base produces small and innovative publishers and game concepts with high-quality material and complex production. On the other hand, there are questionable developments: overpriced and "over-produced" games; Immature regulations and concepts that lack editorial fine-tuning. The transparent communication during the campaigns reveals difficulties that would otherwise remain hidden from retail customers: delays in production lasting several months, short-term changes to the material, high shipping costs. Exclusive components that are only available to early orders in order to artificially increase the buying incentive are also viewed critically.

Modern genres and their representatives

Types of board games

There is no generally binding classification scheme for board games. In addition to the types of board games already described, classifications were made especially for collections and databases.

Independent of this, partial delimitation of board games according to common properties is possible:

Board games on the computer and on the Internet

Sogo as a computer game

Many classic and increasingly modern board games appear in digital form, be it as a PC or console game, as a web application in the browser, or as an app on mobile devices.

If a game does not have a solo mode by itself, implementations usually provide a computer opponent ("artificial intelligence", AI). Multiplayer games are usually realized via a network mode in which people play globally distributed in real time or on a turn-based basis (see correspondence chess ) via the Internet - or alternatively via a hot seat mode , i.e. H. several players take turns operating in front of a device.

The software can enforce and monitor the rules of the game or leave this task to the players and only provide the virtual environment and the required game materials ("sandbox").

Examples of online platforms with a variety of games:

  • BoardGameArena (browser, real-time or turn-based; rule-monitored)
  • Tabletop simulator (PC, online, sandbox)
  • Vassal Engine ( open source Java desktop application; online, sandbox)
  • (browser; turn-based; rule-monitored)

Electronic board games

There are also fully electronic board games (with sensors and voice output) and DVD board games (normal board games with an additional DVD ).

“Hybrid game” or “hybrid game” are games in which the players play like a conventional board game, but dice, moves, move evaluations or other game features are calculated by the computer. In contrast to a computer game, the computer cannot replace the playing field, but helps to evaluate the moves, so that the speed and accuracy of the game can be increased. Solo play is also possible as long as the player moves the pieces on the board. Chess computers are classics .

Didactic board games

Certain learning processes can be initiated and promoted with didactic board games. They use the attractiveness of playing as a method to practice knowledge, skills and behavior. Didactic board games are available for numerous specialist interests. In old age, senior games can be used to train cognitive skills . In this group we can basically distinguish two forms.

The receptive didactic board game

The receptive learning game draws on existing forms of play that are mostly available from teaching material stores. These are characterized as largely programmed game sequences and predetermined desired solutions. The players act as pure users of the game type and act according to the instructions and rules. You benefit from the right game solutions, which have to be found by collecting points superficially and winning against fellow players, enriching their knowledge and skills in the background. That since the 19th century known " flap Game " (Engl. "Shut the Box") can serve the familiarization with the number system in elementary arithmetic lessons.

The naval battle , learning the coordinate system in math class
Typdom, educational game with letters (1930)

The creative didactic board game

The creative educational game starts the play and learning processes as early as the creation of the board game. The players pursue a game idea and create rules they have found themselves, which they implement in a board game according to their own ideas. The self-developed game can in turn be used as a practice game, but can also be further developed and redesigned at any time using new (improved) rules. In the creative board game, not only finished game templates are played according to external guidelines. It pursues the dual purpose of initially designing and constructing your own board game in a first learning process in discovery play, in order then to use it playfully in a second, practicing follow-up process and to consolidate and deepen the knowledge gained.

One such example from traffic education is the way to school game , a board game created by the playgroup itself. It is based on the idea of ​​picking up the children when they experience their own traffic, encouraging them to walk independently on their way to school and empowering them to develop their own board game.


Internationally acclaimed awards originating from Germany are the Critics' Awards Game of the Year , Kennerspiel des Jahres , and Children's Game of the Year , as well as the German Games Award given by a specialist audience .


  • Frans Coninx, Petra Stumpf: Letter games. Sound exercises for elementary school. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-79012-0 .
  • Erwin Glonnegger , Claus Voigt, Johann Rüttinger, Kathi Kappler: The game book Board and placement games from all over the world, origin, rules and history. Ravensburger, Ravensburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-473-55654-0 .
  • Johan Huizinga: Homo Ludens. From the origin of the culture in the game. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1939/2004, ISBN 3-499-55435-6 .
  • Heinz Machatschek: Ticket to Ride; The magic world of board games, Berlin, New Life; 1981, 4th edition
  • Heinz Machatscheck: Brick by Brick - Exoticism of board games, Verlag Neues Leben, 1984
  • Harold JR Murray: History of Board-games Other Than Chess. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1952.
  • David Parlett : The Oxford History of Board Games . Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, NY 1999, ISBN 0-19-212998-8 .
  • Ulrich Schädler : Games of Mankind: 5000 years of the cultural history of board games , on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Swiss Game Museum (1987–2007), Musée Suisse du Jeu , La Tour-de-Peilz / WBG , Darmstadt 2007, ISBN 978-3 -534-21020-6 .
  • Ulrich Vogt : The die has been cast - 5000 years around the cube , Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim - Zurich - New York 2012, ISBN 978-3-487-08518-0 .
  • Siegbert A. Warwitz , Anita Rudolf: Sink ships or the sea battle . In: Dies .: The sense of playing. Reflections and game ideas . 4th edition, Schneider, Baltmannsweiler 2016, ISBN 978-3-8340-1664-5 , pp. 139–140.
  • Siegbert A. Warwitz: The way to school game . In: Ders .: Traffic education from the child. Perceive-play-think-act . Baltmannsweiler (Schneider) 6th edition 2009. pp. 216–221
  • Siegbert A. Warwitz: We create a game for ourselves on the way to school. First grader in an interdisciplinary project . In: Case-Word-Number 30/2002, 47 pp. 23-27.

Web links

Wiktionary: Board game  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikibooks: Games  - Learning and teaching materials
Commons : Board Games  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. FAQ for publishers | Game of the Year. Accessed July 28, 2019 .
  2. ^ The first documented board games., accessed on July 17, 2016 .
  3. Bruce Whitehill, Games of America in the Nineteenth Century , Board Game Studies Journal, Volume 9, 2015, pp. 65–87 ( online )
  4. Bruce Whitehill: American Games: A Historical Perspective , Board Games Studies, Volume 2, 1999, pp. 116–142 ( online )
  5. Wolf Schmidt: Boards that mean the world. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , May 19, 2010.
  6. Eurazeo Finds Buyer for Asmodee. Retrieved December 11, 2018 .
  7. Dollars pledged to successful tabletop versus video games through 2017 by Charlie Hall - Infogram. Retrieved December 11, 2018 .
  8. The development of board games into the digital world., accessed on July 17, 2016 . .
  9. ^ David Parlett: The Oxford History of Board Games . Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, NY 1999.
  10. ^ R. Pfeiffer: We GO to school . Amedia, Vienna 2007.
  11. ^ Siegbert A. Warwitz: We create a game for ourselves on the way to school. First grader in an interdisciplinary project . In: Case-Word-Number 30/2002, 47 pp. 23-27.
  12. Best board games of modern times., accessed on July 17, 2016 . .