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Boardgames To Go 191 - Spiel des Jahres Top 40
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2019-06-08 19:03:04
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I'll be attending Origins Game Fair this year (June 2019) in Columbus. I've been there before, but only in the 80s & 90s, so I'm sure it's substantially different now. I'll be there Thursday-Sunday, including participating on a panel of wargame podcasters/YouTubers/bloggers Sunday morning. That's listed in the program as shown below. I think it's free, and although it's about wargaming you may want to stop by anyway. The topic is the current "golden age" of the hobby, and part of what I have to say is how there are more euro-wargame crossover titles now. Some good aspects of euro design & production have made their way into wargames. I'm thinking of titles like Memoir '44, Twilight Struggle, Academy Games' 1754/1775/1812 series, A Few Acres of Snow, and so on.

Whether you attend the panel or not, I'm happy to hand out my little BoardgamesToGo and WargamesToGo buttons to listeners. Just track me down and I should have some onhand to give away. I'll mostly be doing open gaming, I think. Drop me a note on Twitter or geekmail if you like.


Armchair Dragoons Presents Wargaming Media: State of Play
This panel featuring wargaming media personalities will discuss the current “Golden Age” of board wargaming and what can be done to ensure its survival.
Location: GCCC - Apods - A210
Date: Sunday 6/16/2019 10am (2 hours)


Opener: Silver & Gold

Closer: SdJ jury comments
Dale Yu's 2009 interview with Tom Werneck at Opinionated Gamers
Harald Schrapers and other jury members

It's Spiel des Jahres season. That means the speculation has happened, the actual nominees & recommended titles have been announced, and now we're just waiting on the final prizewinning selection. This doesn't matter to many people--in fact many gamers don't think it's a big deal. But it's a big deal to me and here's why: I'm a hobby gamer from way, way back. Like four decades. If you think hobby gaming is niche now, you have no recollection of what an odd corner it was in back then. Stereotyped as being full of nerdy boys and grumpy old men, that was kind of true. Game shops did not smell good. Mature romances and stable careers were hard to find.

Now, those people are still around--and they deserve their hobby, too--but I find it FAR better today that we have more diverse game groups filled with everyday people doing everyday jobs. Interesting games are on sale in bookstores, at Target, and of course online. Not everything has to have an orc in it. I don't know if the hobby IS bigger & broader, but it sure feels that way.

True, these improvements may have come around on their own. After all, formerly geeky entertainments like Game of Thrones and Marvel comics now dominate our cultural landscape. Perhaps hobby games would've developed on their own. I don't think so, however. Or, at least, it all happened much faster (and--importantly--across a broader audience) because a group of game reviewers in Germany took artistic criticism of gaming as an artform seriously. They drove their publishers to do better, and in turn the publishers were rewarded with increased business. It was a positive cycle, and we are some of its lucky recipients.

There are a lot of awards thought up & given out by all sorts of organizations. There have been some in America for decades. Yet they didn't have this impact. In fact, there were other awards in Germany, too. The Spiel des Jahres has worked like no others because it has been cultivated & maintained by a dedicated, revolving collection of game critics. Even if the lighter, more family-focused games aren't your favorites, you still benefit from their polishing of the games business. For someone like me, it's even better because I honestly love many of the titles that have won the Spiel des Jahres.

I don't love ALL of them, though. Not even close. As you'll hear, I'd say I love about a third, like another third, and don't like the final third. Close to that. This episode is a ranking of all 40 of the SdJ winners, and (briefly) what I think of them.

-Mark



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