game of the year

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Game of the year e. V.
purpose Promotion of the “game” cultural asset in society and the family
Chair: Harald Schrapers
Managing Director: Guido Heinecke
Establishment date: 1978
Number of members: 17th
Seat : Kerpen

The Game of the Year Critics' Prize is awarded by the Spiel des Jahres e. V. game award awarded since 1979 for German-language board and card game innovations. It is considered to be the world's most important award for non-electronic games, the “ Oscar for board games”. The Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne , with their millions of copies, are the two most popular titles to have received this award. Since 2001 the children's game of the year has also been awarded. Since 2011, the jury has been awarding a third main award, Kennerspiel des Jahres. It is aimed at players "who have been playing for a long time and who have experience in learning new games".


Jury members advising on the game of the year 2019: Harald Schrapers (chairman), Tim Koch, Martin Klein, Wieland Herold, Bernhard Löhlein, Udo Bartsch; front: Sandra Lemberger, Karsten Grosser, Julia Zerlik.

The prize is awarded by the Spiel des Jahres e. V. , whose members work as game critics for German-language media. The currently 14 members of the association who are entitled to vote belong either to the jury for the game and the expert game of the year or to the children's play jury. There are also three advisory association members. The general assembly decides on new jury members. The association's chairman has been the Duisburg-based journalist Harald Schrapers ( spielbox ) since 2018 , and the jury's spokesman has been the Ingolstadt radio editor Bernhard Löhlein (Radio K1) since 2009 . The founding seat of the association is Nuremberg , the office is in Kerpen near Cologne.

The history of the game of the year goes back to 1978, when the WDR journalist Jürgen Herz, together with other game critics, took the initiative to found the club. “The eight of the first hour had no legitimation: a classic act of self-creation. It took a year to put the idea into concrete form. ”The first award ceremony took place in 1979 in Essen with financial support from the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs under the patronage of Minister Antje Huber . Since 1996, the winning game has been announced every July at an award ceremony in Berlin, where the award is presented to the author and those responsible for the publishing house.

The association fell into a crisis in 2001 when three members of the jury resigned because they viewed the close cooperation between the jury and the German Games Archive, which was managed by a member of the jury, as problematic. They feared that the work of the archive would be dependent on the jury generating six-figure license income annually. There were also differences in content: The three members did not agree with the jury majority's course of calling on game publishers to look for a “new kind of audience proximity” and to develop games with simple rules and easy access. In addition, the resigned jurors expressed the suspicion that the mostly older jury members lack the competence to competently assess the latest innovations. In the following years, the jury underwent a renewal, which - after the sudden resignation of the then chairman Uwe Petersen - culminated in the election of Stefan Ducksch as jury spokesman in 2006.

The jury's decisions have a major impact on the board game market. The popularity of the award means that more than 300,000 copies of the award-winning game can usually be sold within a year. That means at least a tenfold increase in the original edition of the game. The award-winning games are allowed to wear a red pawn (also known as a Halma cone ), the children's game a blue pawn and the expert game an anthracite-colored pawn. The Spiel des Jahres e. V. a license fee based on the number of games sold. The members of the Spiel des Jahres e. V. work on a voluntary basis. The club's income is primarily used for public relations for the game in general and for the award-winning games in particular. These include trade fair stands where visitors can be advised independently of the company, an annual game designer grant, the Getting Healthy initiative at children's clinics and the Playing for Tolerance initiative . The German Games Archive also benefited from license income for many years. Since 2012 there has been a funding program for “projects that strengthen the position of the game as a cultural asset in society”, within the framework of which a total of 346 projects were funded with around 435,000 euros up to and including 2020.

Bruno Sautter, author of Just One, the game of the year 2019

Electoral process

By 1998, the jury initially set up a list of nominations that comprised between five and twelve titles. From these games, one game was selected as Game of the Year , the other nominated games were awarded a place on the Game of the Year shortlist. Between 1999 and 2003 a selection list with up to 13 games was created first, the list for children's games (since 2001) comprised up to eight games. Three of these titles were nominated for the main prize, one of which was ultimately chosen as the winner. There have been no selection lists since 2004 . Instead, there was initially a nomination list with five titles - both for the game of the year and the children's game of the year . Since 2011 there have been three nominated games for Game of the Year , Children's Game of the Year and the newly introduced Kennerspiel des Jahres . In addition, recommendation lists have been published since 2004 .

The awards are given to games of the current year, that is, titles that were released between April of the previous year and March of the current year. Decisive for the evaluation are the game idea, game rules as well as the presentation and functionality of the game and the material. “In the end, it is always the overall impression that counts, the feel of the game, which can hardly be broken down into individual, measurable parts.” “The Spiel des Jahres jury awards the best game. Knowing that there is no objectively the best game because that would be different in the morning after Sunday breakfast and in the evening after the second beer. Sometimes I have three people at the table, sometimes five, sometimes more playful, sometimes there are children, ”writes Harald Schrapers. In addition to the main prizes, the jury can award special prizes.

Thomas Sing, author of Die Crew, the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2020.

A jury of ten critics currently decides on the game and the expert game of the year . The children's play jury is made up of four association members and four advisory boards who are involved in day-care centers, day nurseries and schools or as a toy library with board games as part of their professional activities. The advisory board activity has been advertised publicly since 2019.

Current jury members

  • Udo Bartsch since 2007
  • Manuel Fritsch since 2019
  • Martina Fuchs since 2020
  • Stefan Gohlisch since 2012 (Jury Children's Game of the Year)
  • Karsten Grosser since 2009
  • Stephan Kessler since 2019
  • Tim Koch since 2017
  • Bernhard Löhlein since 2003
  • Stefanie Marckwardt since 2016 (Jury Children's Game of the Year)
  • Hauke ​​Petersen since 2019 (Jury Children's Game of the Year)
  • Christoph Schlewinski since 2016 (Jury Children's Game of the Year)
  • Harald Schrapers since 2017
  • Nico Wagner since 2020
  • Julia Zerlik since 2018

Former members of the jury (selection)

Well-known (specialist) journalists were members of the jury again and again, including:

  • Jochen Corts 1979-2004
  • Stefan Ducksch 2003-10 and 2013-15
  • Synes Ernst 1982-2007
  • Tom Felber 2000-08 and 2010-18
  • Andreas Haaß 2008-2013
  • Dieter Hasselblatt 1979–1988
  • Wieland Herold 1995-2019
  • Jürgen Herz 1979–1988
  • Dorothee Heß 1989-2008
  • Michael Knopf 1997-2001
  • Sandra Lemberger 2010-2020
  • Birgit Nößler 2004-2013
  • Gilbert Obermair 1979-1980
  • Edwin Ruschitzka 1998-2001
  • Bernward Thole 1979-2004
  • Tom Werneck 1979-83 and 1987-2009
Harald Schrapers

Chairman of the association

  • 1979-1994: Bernward Thole
  • 1994-2004: Synes Ernst
  • 2004–2006: Uwe Petersen
  • 2006–2008: Stefan Ducksch
  • 2008–2011: Bernhard Löhlein
  • 2011–2018: Tom Felber
  • since 2018: Harald Schrapers

Award winners

For the selection list published between 1979 and 2003, see Game of the Year selection list , for the recommendation list published since 2004 see Game of the Year recommendation list .

Game of the year critics award

Prize winners (from 1999 including the nominees)
year price game author publishing company Number of players Age
1979 winner rabbit and Hedgehog David Parlett Ravensburger 2-6 from 10
1980 winner Rummikub Ephraim Hertzano Intelli / Arxon new edition at Jumbo 2-4 from 07
1981 winner Focus Sid Sackson Parker reissue at Kosmos 2-4 from 10
1982 winner Sagaland Alex Randolph , Michel Matschoss Ravensburger 2-6 from 06
1983 winner Scotland Yard Werner Schlegel et al. Ravensburger 3-6 from 10
1984 winner Steam horse David Watts Schmidt new edition by Laurin 2-6 from 12
1985 winner Sherlock Holmes Criminal Cabinet Anthony Uruburu Franckh-Kosmos new edition under the name Sherlock Holmes - Consultant Detective at Space Cowboys 1-6 from 12
1986 winner Heimlich & Co. Wolfgang Kramer Ravensburger new edition at Amigo 2-6 from 08
1987 winner On axis Wolfgang Kramer FX Schmid new editions at Ravensburger and Schmidt 2-6 from 08
1988 winner Barbarossa and the riddle masters Klaus Teuber ASS new edition at Catan 3-4 from 12
1989 winner Café International Rudi Hoffmann Mattel reissue at Amigo 2-4 from 12
1990 winner noblesse oblige Klaus Teuber FX Schmid new edition at Alea / Ravensburger 3-5 from 12
1991 winner Under & over Klaus Teuber Hans in hapiness 2-4 from 09
1992 winner To tire width Rob Bontenbal jumbo 2-4 from 08
1993 winner bluff Richard Borg FX Schmid new edition at Ravensburger 2-6 from 12
1994 winner Manhattan Andreas Seyfarth Hans in hapiness 2-4 from 10
1995 winner The settlers of Catan Klaus Teuber cosmos 3-4 from 10
1996 winner El Grande Wolfgang Kramer , Richard Ulrich Hans in hapiness 3-5 from 12
1997 winner Mississippi Queen Werner Hodel Gold sifter 3-5 from 10
1998 winner Elfenland Alan R. Moon Amigo 2-6 from 10
1999 winner Tikal Wolfgang Kramer , Michael Kiesling Ravensburger new edition at Rio Grande 2-4 from 10
Giants Wilko Manz cosmos 3-4 from 10
Union Pacific Alan R. Moon Amigo 2-6 from 12
2000 winner Torres Wolfgang Kramer , Michael Kiesling FX Schmid new edition at Huch! 2-4 from 12
Carolus Magnus Leo Colovini Winning moves 2-4 from 12
Without fear and nobility Bruno Faidutti Hans in hapiness 2-7 from 10
2001 winner Carcassonne Klaus-Jürgen Wrede Hans in hapiness 3-5 from 08
The amulet Alan R. Moon , Aaron Weissblum Gold sifter 3-6 from 12
Zapp Zerapp Heinz Meister , Klaus Zoch Zoch 2-4 from 07
2002 winner Villa Paletti Bill Payne Zoch 2-4 from 08
Puerto Rico Andreas Seyfarth Alea / Ravensburger 2-5 from 12
Trans America Franz-Benno Delonge Winning Moves new edition at Ravensburger 2-6 from 08
2003 winner Alhambra Dirk Henn Queen Games 2-6 from 08
Clans Leo Colovini Winning moves 2-4 from 10
The dragon island Tom Schoeps Amigo 3-5 from 10
2004 winner step by step Alan R. Moon Days of Wonder 3-5 from 08
Thick air in the crypt Norbert Proena Zoch 2-4 from 06
Just awesome Pure Knizia cosmos 1-4 from 10
Raja Wolfgang Kramer , Michael Kiesling phalanx 2-5 from 10
St. Petersburg Michael Tummelhofer Hans in hapiness 2-4 from 10
2005 winner Niagara Thomas Liesching Zoch 3-5 from 08
Himalayas Regis Bonnessée Tilsit 3-4 from 12
In 80 days around the world Michael Rieneck cosmos 2-6 from 12
Jambo Rüdiger Dorn cosmos 2 from 12
Damn it! Wolfgang Kramer , Michael Kiesling Ravensburger 2-6 from 08
2006 winner Thurn and Taxis Andreas Seyfarth , Karen Seyfarth Hans in hapiness 2-4 from 10
Aqua Romana Martin Schlegel Queen Games 2-4 from 08
Blue Moon City Pure Knizia cosmos 2-4 from 10
Just 4 fun Jürgen PK Grunau cosmos 2-4 from 10
Pirates Stefan Dorra Queen Games 3-5 from 08
2007 winner Zooloretto Michael Schacht Abacus 3-5 from 08
The builders of Arkadia Rüdiger Dorn Ravensburger 2-4 from 10
The thief of Baghdad Thorsten Gimmler Queen Games 2-4 from 08
Beyond Thebes Peter Prince Queen Games 2-4 from 08
Yspahan Sébastien Pauchon Ystari / Huch & Friends 2-4 from 08
2008 winner Keltis Pure Knizia cosmos 2-4 from 10
Blox Wolfgang Kramer , Jürgen PK Grunau , Hans Raggan Ravensburger 2-4 from 10
Stone Age Michael Tummelhofer Hans in hapiness 2-4 from 10
Suleika Dominique Ehrhard Zoch 2-4 from 08
How bewitched Andreas Pelikan Alea / Ravensburger 3-5 from 09
2009 winner Dominion Donald X. Vaccarino Hans im Glück new edition at Rio Grande 2-4 from 08
fauna Friedemann Friese Yikes & Friends 2-6 from 10
Finca Ralf zur Linde , Wolfgang Sentker Hans in hapiness 2-4 from 08
Fits Pure Knizia Ravensburger 1-4 from 08
pandemic Matt Leacock Pegasus games new edition under the name Pandemic at Z-Man 2-4 from 12
2010 winner Dixit Jean-Louis Roubira Libellud 3-6 from 08
Identity William P. Jacobson , Amanda A. Kohout Asmodée new edition under the name Meisterwerke 3-6 from 08
A la carte Karl-Heinz Schmiel Moskito / Heidelberger Spieleverlag 3-4 from 08
Through the Ages - The Dice Game - Bronze Age Matt Leacock Pegasus games 1-4 from 08
fresco Marco Ruskowski , Marcel Süßelbeck Queen Games 2-4 from 10
2011 winner Qwirkle Susan McKinley Ross Schmidt 2-4 from 08
Asara Wolfgang Kramer , Michael Kiesling Ravensburger 2-4 from 09
The forbidden island Matt Leacock Schmidt 2-4 from 10
2012 winner Kingdom Builder Donald X. Vaccarino Queen Games 2-4 from 08
Donkey bridge Stefan Dorra , Ralf zur Linde Schmidt 3-12 from 08
Vegas Rüdiger Dorn Alea / Ravensburger new edition under the name Las Vegas 2-5 from 08
2013 winner Hanabi Antoine Bauza Abacus games 2-5 from 08
Qwixx Steffen Benndorf Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag 2-5 from 08
Augustus Paolo Mori Hurrican reissue under the name Via Magica 2-6 from 08
2014 winner Camel Up Steffen Bogen Eggertspiele / Pegasus games 2-8 from 08
Concept Gaëtan Beaujannot , Alain Rivollet Repos Production 4-16 from 10
Splendor Marc André Space cowboys 2-4 from 10
2015 winner Colt Express Christophe Raimbault Ludonaute 2-6 from 10
Machi Koro Masao Suganuma cosmos 2-4 from 08
The Game Steffen Benndorf Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag 1-5 from 08
2016 winner Codenames Vlaada Chvátil Czech Games Edition / Heidelberger Spieleverlag 2-8 from 14
Imhotep Phil Walker-Harding cosmos 2-4 from 10
Karuba Rüdiger Dorn Haba 2-4 from 08
2017 winner Kingdomino Bruno Cathala Pegasus games 2-4 from 08
Magic Maze Kasper Lapp Pegasus Games / Sit down 2-8 from 08
Race to El Dorado Pure Knizia Ravensburger 2-4 from 10
2018 winner Azul Michael Kiesling Next Move / Plan B Games 2-4 from 08
Luxor Rüdiger Dorn Queen Games 2-8 from 08
The Mind Wolfgang Warsch Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag 2-4 from 08
2019 winner Just one Ludovic Roudy , Bruno Sautter Repos Production 3-7 from 08
lama Pure Knizia Amigo 2-6 from 08
Werwords Ted Alspach Ravensburger 4-10 from 10
2020 winner Pictures Daniela Stöhr , Christian Stöhr PD publishing house 3-5 from 08
My City Pure Knizia cosmos 2-4 from 10
Nova Luna Uwe Rosenberg , Corné van Moorsel Edition playground / Pegasus games 1-4 from 08
2021 winner MicroMacro: Crime City Johannes Sich Edition playground , Pegasus games 1-4 from 10
The adventures of Robin Hood Michael Menzel cosmos 2-4 from 10
Zombie Teenz Evolution Annick Lobet Scorpion Masqué 2-4 from 08

Expert game of the year

Logo of the award "Kennerspiel des Jahres"

The Kennerspiel des Jahres prize has also been awarded since 2011 and a list of nominations has been published. “In addition to the Spiel des Jahres clientele of the less experienced players, there is now also an increasingly large group of those who grew up with the Spiel des Jahres and who got into the hobby game more intensively via the award winners, but still rely on the orientation and reliability of the brand Want to build game of the year ”, Udo Bartsch explains the award.

Children's game of the year

The Spiel des Jahres e. V. for titles, the minimum age of which is mostly between four and six years, as children's game of the year. A jury, which is currently made up of four association members and four advisory councilors, who are also entitled to vote, decides on the winner. The prize is the successor to the children's game special prize awarded between 1989 and 2000 .

The games nominated and awarded since 2001 are listed in the main article, for the shortlist created from 2002 to 2003 see Children's Game of the Year - Shortlist , for the list of recommendations published annually since 2004 see Children's Game of the Year - Recommended List .

Special prices

Special price Nice game

Special award for the best solitaire game

Special prize for cooperative family game

Special price children's game

Since 2001, an independent children's game of the year has been awarded instead of the special children 's game award.

Special price puzzle

Special prize game of skill

Special price story in the game

Special prize for literature in the game

Fantastic game special award

Special price complex game

Special price party game

Special prize for new play worlds

Special award game of the year plus

Other game prices in the German-speaking area

In addition to the game of the year, there are various other game awards in German-speaking countries. The longest since 1990 assigned to exist German game prize , which is based tuning specialist audience on a broad-based, and since 2001 awarded Game of the Year award for titles that are available on the Austrian market. In Switzerland, between 2002 and 2007 the Swiss game prize , by the local toy libraries forgive and since 2010 Swiss Gamers Award .

The À la carte card game award from Fairplay magazine for the best card game of the year has been awarded since 1991. From 1981 to 2016, the city of Essen also selected the Essen pen for the best rules of the year by a jury of experts and has been awarding it since 1990 as part of the German Game Prize. For the first time in 2009 the Graf Ludo was awarded, which does not see itself as a prize comparable to the game of the year , because it only recognizes the achievements in the field of design in board and card games . The Ali Baba Spieleclub e. V. Two-person games from the previous year that have previously applied with the DuAli .


  • Bernward Thole, Tom Werneck (ed.): Game of the year. Adviser to the jury. Hugendubel, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-88034-380-2 .
  • Bernward Thole, Tom Werneck (ed.): The excellent games: a guide through the game jungle (= Rororo 8912). Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1991, ISBN 3-499-18912-7 .
  • Bernward Thole, Tom Werneck (ed.): The excellent games: a guide through the game jungle (= Rororo 8927). Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1992, ISBN 3-499-18927-5 .
  • Bernward Thole, Tom Werneck (ed.): Excellent games. Advisor to the jury "Game of the Year". Don Bosco, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-7698-1053-8 .
  • Bernward Thole, Tom Werneck (Ed.): Excellent games. Yearbook of the jury "Game of the Year". Don Bosco, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-7698-1193-3 .

Web links

Commons : Game of the Year  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. I tried more than 400 games in the last year. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. July 23, 2018, accessed September 16, 2019 .
  2. The three critic prizes. In: Game of the Year. Retrieved August 8, 2018 .
  3. New SdJ Board and brochure. In: July 31, 2018, accessed November 1, 2019 .
  4. Successful act of self-creation. In: spielbox, No. 4/2019, p. 20
  5. history. In: Game of the Year. Retrieved August 8, 2018 .
  6. Games in Difficult Times ( Memento from January 13, 1997 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Jury Game of the Year: Resignations ( Memento from February 18, 2001 in the Internet Archive )
  8. Jury Game of the Year: Business as usual ( Memento from October 31, 2002 in the Internet Archive )
  9. ^ Profession game author. Predictable clientele. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. August 11, 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2015 .
  10. a b FAQ. In: Game of the Year. Retrieved August 8, 2018 .
  11. Game of the Year funding program. In: Game of the Year. Retrieved April 9, 2020 .
  12. Is Game of the Year the Board Game Oscar? In: Game of the Year. September 30, 2018, accessed March 11, 2019 .
  13. ↑ Reorganized : the Children's Game of the Year jury In: Game of the Year. July 17, 2019, accessed September 3, 2020 .
  14. Five years of the Kennerspiel des Jahres ( Memento from June 23, 2018 in the Internet Archive )
  15. The best 2-player game ; accessed on April 9, 2020.