A Guide to Board Game Awards

A Guide to Board Game Awards

A Guide to Board Game Awards

The most effective board games combine original mechanics, clear rules, a successful layout, and a fantastic design. Board game awards give the opportunity to reward stand-out games for all of these factors and more. Within our blog, we’ll explore the most commonly known awards within the industry and what they can mean for games.

Spiel des Jahres

The History of the Award

Arguably the most prestigious award is the Spiel des Jahres which first began in 1978 when the Nuremberg Toy Fair in Germany opened. Juergen Herz, a German journalist, came up with the idea to introduce an annual board game award at the fair. With a team of like-minded colleagues, they acted as a jury of critics to determine the winner of the Spiel des Jahres, or SdJ. Since then, every year a panel of jury members play, discuss, and deliberate before announcing their winner in July.

How Does the Spiel des Jahres Award Work?

The Spiel des Jahres recognises their choice of the ‘Best B

oard Game of the Year’ for family-friendly games. Another rule is that the game must be German or have a German translation to be considered. The jury will determine their favourite game based on multiple factors such as:

  • Game mechanics / concept - is it unique and replayable?
  • Rules - are they clear and easy to follow?
  • Layout - are the game board / box / rules laid out well?
  • Design - is the artwork inviting?

The award in 2023 went to Dorfromantik, which was the first video game adaptation to win game of the year. 

What Impact Does the Award Have?

If a game wins, or is even nominated for, the Spiel Des Jahres award, they are automatically more likely to sell more copies. It has been estimated that a nominated game will increase its sales from 1,000 - 3,000 copies to 10,000 and a win could even take this to 300,000 - 500,000 copies. This is due to retailers instantly stocking Spiel Des Jahres winners without question, since they know they will be in demand.  

Other factors that can improve sales include the huge press coverage the game gets, as well as staff within board game shops safely recommending the Spiel Des Jahres winners to prospective customers. The winning game can therefore be recognised globally, which has happened to games such as Ticket to Ride and Catan.

Kinderspiel des Jahres

Expanding the Spiel des Jahres, this additional award was introduced in 2001 to celebrate the Children’s Game of the Year. The games that are mostly considered are those targeted towards 4 - 9 year olds.

Kennerspiel des Jahres

More recently, in 2011, the Kennerspiel des Jahres was introduced as an award for the Connoisseur / Expert Game of the Year. In comparison to the Spiel des Jahres, the Kennerspiel des Jahres aims to reward games that are designed for a more experienced gaming audience. These are more complex games which are enjoyed by an audience that are accustomed to following game rules.

In 2023, Asmodee were pleased to announce that Mysterium Kids: Captain Echo’s Treasure received the Kinderspiel des Jahres 2023 and Challengers! received the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2023.

Golden Geek Awards

BoardGameGeek, the online resource about all things board games, has hosted their own annual Golden Geek Awards since 2006. In comparison to a jury voting for the winner, communities on the website can nominate and vote for their favourite games. Awards are presented for fifteen distinct categories, such as best party, 2 player, cooperative, and wargame. Game of the Year is separated into Light, Medium, and Heavy categories. 

Winners of an award are presented with a medal and award letter, which is sent to both the publisher and designer/developer. Considering BoardGameGeek is the largest online board game community and votes come from game enthusiasts, it is an honour to win a Golden Geek Award.

What Awards Mean for the Board Game Community

Annual award ceremonies for board games give us the opportunity to recognise all of the hard work that goes into creating games that bring joy to players. In such a fast paced industry, awards give us the time to reflect on what great material has been produced over the past year. At Asmodee, we’re always overjoyed when one of our games is nominated, and even wins, an award, because it's a testament to the innovation that our games bring to players worldwide - we look forward to continuing to create unforgettable gaming experiences for generations to come.