Designer of the Year Awards: 1955-2019
After the 2013 article was posted, a couple of people asked for the complete list of winners, preferably in a Geeklist. This list is in response to those requests. I'll be updating the list after every subsequent article.
So what kind of games am I considering when I assign the awards? I'm excluding standard wargames and children's games, which for the most part have a completely separate set of designers (and which frankly I know very little about), but I'm including everything else: boardgames, card games, role playing games, collectible card games, dexterity games, etc. Expansions aren't eligible, but redesigns of earlier games are (although I give them less weight). I consider gamer's games, family games, Eurogames, Ameritrash, party games, the whole lot. Toss 'em all in the mix and see who has the best creations.
The criteria I use to select each year's best designer includes the quality of the games, how well received they were at the time of their release, and how well they have stood up to the test of time. In particular, I give heavy weight to games which have high average ratings on the Geek and which have garnered wins and nominations for the major gaming awards. In a few of the years, the decision between two designers was so close that I assigned joint awards (and I even split the award three ways a couple of times), but I try as much as possible to pick a single winner.
Since I've always been interested in the history of gaming, when I created the idea of the awards, I went back and looked at previous years, to see who I would have picked as the leading designer. I tried to take it back as far as I could and eventually stretched it all the way back to 1955. Prior to 1990, many of the awards went to designers with only one game, since there were very few folks cranking out multiple titles in a year. This means that many of these early awards are more or less Game of the Year awards, which really wasn't the original intent. Still, I found the exercise interesting and it allowed me to include all of the great designers we celebrate on the Geek with one set of awards.
My descriptions for those early years will be much shorter, since there's frankly less to talk about. Many times, there is just one logical pick for DotY. Starting with the 90's, I'll provide more detail, along with the other designers I also think had good years.
To show the award performance of each of the cited games, I use the following codes. The letters S, K, D, and I show that the design won Game of the Year honors from the Spiel des Jahres (SdJ), Kennerspiel des Jahres (KdJ), Deutscher Spiele Preis (DSP), or International Gamers Awards (IGA), respectively. The lower case letters s, k, d, and i show that the game was nominated for the indicated award, or, in the case of the DSP, finished in the top ten. r indicates a game that was a recommended SdJ or KdJ game and $ shows that the game won an SdJ special award (for example, Most Beautiful Game or Best Children's Game). "A" shows a game that won Fairplay's a la carte award (best card game), while "a" indicates a top ten listing. g shows that the game was nominated as GotY for the Golden Geek awards or that it was a category winner; G indicates that it was the Golden Geek Game of the Year. t and T show the same thing for the Dice Tower awards. M shows one of the three winners of the Meeples Choice Awards and m indicates an MCA nominee. Hmm, we're starting to run out of letters. So let's use B to signify one of the four category winners of the American TaBletop Awards and b for a nominated game. And we'll use Z for Games MagaZine's Game of the Year. H shows that the game is included in the Sumo/Counter Hall of Fame, while h indicates that it's in the Games Magazine Hall of Fame. Finally, if a game is italicized, it indicates that it's a redesign of a previously published title by that designer.
Please feel free to comment on my picks, particularly if you think I've missed an obvious choice. Just remember, I'm not trying to reward the best game of the year, but the best designer of the year. Very often, that will mean that someone who creates a fabulous single game will lose out to a designer with a larger portfolio. In fact, during the last 20 years, it's been almost impossible to win the DotY with just one game, no matter how great it is.
I hope you enjoy this list. If you do, check out my next DotY article on the Opinionanted Gamers website (http://opinionatedgamers.com); they usually appear in early March of each year.
- [+] Dice rolls