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Subject: How popular is boardgame in Germany rss

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Serious question here, I'm not from Germany and have not been there ever before and would like to visit sometime in the future,

Anyway, the term Euro game and conventions such as Essen make its feel like board gaming is a very popular and "open" thing in Germany to me, is that right or wrong ? Or is it like a sub culture thing, where only certain group of people knows its existence and many have not heard or only had vague idea of the concept of designer games.

How evident is the board game culture over there, are there many board game shops ? Like 1 ever district ? Are there board game in cafe and coffee house ? Do school have board game clubs ? Is these the norms or only in certain area ?

Those who are living in Germany and those who have been there, kindly share your experience and what you have seen

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Ron
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Well, I guess it's not that different than in the States. Each big city has one or two FLGS, most people have no idea that there are board games beyond Monopoly, but the fanatic minority of gamers keeps a handful of small publishing companies alive meeple

Sadly, watching TV is a much more popular leisure activity than playing a board game - especially one with more than one page of rules ... soblue
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Ian Taylor
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My experience is different. I have been to Germany quite a few times and there seem to be far more FLGS's and also the regular department stores sell designer games as well (and have quite a reasonable selection).

I can't comment on the general attitude amongst the regular population as I have only been there on holiday, not lived there, and I only have a basic grasp of the language.
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HenningK
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Being from Germany, this is kind of hard for me to answer since I don’t have a comparison. I’d say that board games are mostly seen as fun for kids or the whole family. It’s not unusual at all to find the current Spiel des Jahres under the Christmas tree in families with children aged 8-14.
Playing games is something that people from 15-30 often do, but most see it as a fun pastime to spend with friends, not as a hobby per se. Party games like Taboo, Therapy or Werewolves are popular because they are easy to explain and are good for a lot of laughs.

In large stores, quite a few games are found in the toy sections. Games like Settlers, Carcassonne or Monopoly in its million iterations are found in basically every larger department store. Often, you will also find several eurogames, preferably Spiel des Jahres winners, like Dominion, Thurn and Taxis, or 7 Wonders, as well as lighter games like Forbidden Island. Also, quick (card) games in small boxes like Wizard or Bang! can also be usually found. Depending on the store, you may also find some meatier euros like Puerto Rico, Agricola or Caylus.

It’s harder to find ameritrash games. You will find those basically only in dedicated gaming stores, often in ones that focus on trading card, tabletop or role-playing games. You can find 1-3 of those gaming stores in most larger German cities. Dedicated toy stores that will also feature a wider variety of board games (though usually of the eurogame variety) are a bit more common and can be found in smaller towns as well.

As for the popularity, this is tough for me to say. I think that Settlers of Catan made a huge impact and showed that board games can be fun for adults, too, and that they are not for kids only. Most people under 50 have played Settlers at least once. Still, it’s rather unusual if someone says his hobbies include playing games. Other euros, especially Spiel des Jahres winners, are also rather well-known, while ameritrash games or longer, more complex euros like Agricola are mostly only known to geeks.

In most large cities, you can find a group of people that play board games weekly or monthly and where you can openly join. Here in Berlin, Germany’s capital and largest city, I know of at least 3 such groups that attract somewhere between 15 and 60 people on a weekly basis.
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Hilko Drude
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I am not sure that most people under 50 have played Settlers, but I'd be reasonably sure that a majority has at least heard of it. There are probably more households with a handful of games than without. But as the last poster said, it is not considered a hobby by most, just as something you like to do once in a while.

As for the stores, there are definitely regional differences. FLGS are under much pressure, and many have closed down. Still, in the center of my town (130.000 people), there are five stores in which you can buy designer games within easy walking distance of each other. I don't consider that normal, there are towns with much less selection.

In any case, if you live in a place with lots of younger people (university towns and such), being looked at strangely when suggesting to play a board game (or just talking about it) is quite unusual. It's not something everyone does, but it is definitely normal. When I see the buzz caused on this platform by pretty much any boardgaming article in an English language newspaper, I am stunned - more or less every newspaper here has occasional articles on games, and probably a larger set of recommendations before Christmas.
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Hilko Drude
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PzVIE wrote:
Most people have no idea that there are board games beyond Monopoly,


That is definitely wrong.
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Ron
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HilkMAN wrote:
PzVIE wrote:
Most people have no idea that there are board games beyond Monopoly,


That is definitely wrong.

Well, I'm south of Germany but many adults think that beyond Monopoly there's only child's games. Don't look at the world with your gamer's eyes.

I also doubt that most people under 50 have played Settlers.
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Cheryll Gerk
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Perhaps my perception is a bit warped, since most of my friends are pretty nerdy, but most people I know will own some boardgames that seem to be considered pretty non-casual, even though they don't consider boardgameing an actual hobby. E.x. one couple owns Arkham Horror, another Descent(I think, something with minis and fighty) and Battlestar Galactica, my boyfriend and I had Munchkin, Lords of Waterdeep, Ascension, Tannhäuser and several other, before we actually started boardgames as a serious hobby.
It was also never a problem to get a few people together for a game night. Even now, that my bf and I are more into boardgames, our friends are quite happy to come over every few weeks, and learn and play some of our hobby boardgames. Even my mother enjoys playing any boardgames with me I might bring, even though she is a bit slower learning the rules than my friends.

Also Germany has boardgame libraries, which is about the coolest thing ever. They have pretty much everything. Eurogames of course, but also a lot of Ameritrash, Co-Op games, miniature boardgames etc.

Also, not only toy stores have boardgames. Most bookstores will have a decent selection (mostly eurogames, some card and dicegames) as well as most bigger supermarkets etc.
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I wonder, how much of it stem from Germany military leaning.
After WW2, they were kinda banned from bringing up this thing, and people who were raised with 'war' in their blood had to put it somewhere. They kinda transformed it into civil applications - technology and whatnot.
I guess, board games are pushed so that kids' minds would be occupied with something other than violence in media. cool
I so envy you all developed countries... Around here, just about nobody knows about board games and CCG - only a single BG shop in whole country (opened a few years ago) and one CCG shop. (The higher prices/lower population income levels and language barrier complicate all this )
 
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Hilko Drude
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PzVIE wrote:
HilkMAN wrote:
PzVIE wrote:
Most people have no idea that there are board games beyond Monopoly,


That is definitely wrong.

Well, I'm south of Germany but many adults think that beyond Monopoly there's only child's games. Don't look at the world with your gamer's eyes.


I live in a house with six apartments. In four of them, there are board games (non-Monopoly stuff). In one there aren't any; the sixth one I don't know.
If I walk through our street in the evening, when lights are on, I see shelves through a number of windows. On top of many of them, there are games. I am not talking about large collections or anything, but a handful of them, and that's just what I randomly see. Settlers has sold millions of copies in Germany alone, in a population of 80 million. I'd say it is pretty well spread.
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Eddy Sterckx
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Spiel in Essen attracts 150,000 people who are enough of a gamer to actually attend a game fair.

Granted, there's a fair amount of us foreigners there, but the large majority is still German.

So all in all I'd say that gaming in Germany is a hobby with a respectable number of adherents.

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Thorsten Dann
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I think boardgaming ist pretty popular in germany. I don't know any familiy which don't have even one game. But in generall they don't see it as their hobby. It's just spending some time with your familiy. Some of them only, when there's nothing good on tv

But... you can find casual games in every bigger store (Carcassonne, Monopoly, Tabu, Settlers, Qwirkle). And for the "not so casual" games, there is a local FLGS in every medium to bigger city.
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Christian Turkiewicz
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Most people I know aren't gamers and usually don't know much about boardgames. Sure Settlers, Carcasonne and Ubongo are widespread but are seen as a family activity. If you tell somebody that you are a gamer most people are baffled. These people don't want to use their brains after 5 p.m.

Sports, gardening and working on your house are considered normal. Even TV-Series which require some attention are usually to much for most.

Luckily there's the internet and usually there are a couple of gamers, geeks and open-minded people everywhere you just need to find them.

We lived 3km away from another gamer-couple without knowing for 2 years.

RPGs are even stranger for most people.
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Martin Mathes
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djay16 wrote:
Anyway, the term Euro game and conventions such as Essen make its feel like board gaming is a very popular and "open" thing in Germany to me, is that right or wrong ? Or is it like a sub culture thing, where only certain group of people knows its existence and many have not heard or only had vague idea of the concept of designer games.


Keep in mind that the SPIEL started 1983 as "Spielertage" ("Gamers Days") actually only one and a half day with less than two dozen exhibitors. An amazing crowd of 2000 "nerds" (board gamers and RP gamers in a wild assortment) attended the first SPIEL (as visitors were counted per day, I suspect it were only 1000 that showed up each of the two days ).

So thirty years ago, gamers were mostly an occult, exclusive, suspiciously-eyed scene like computer enthusiasts or environmentalists (strange coincidents, the TCP/IP protocol was implemented in 1983 and roughly the same time German environmentalists established themself as a political party )

Since the SPIEL has moved to the Gruga exhibition center (If I remember it correctly, first SPIEL in the Gruga was in 1988), the gamer scene in Germany got more attention and developed into a common knowledge part of the general acceppted culture - still with a stronger base in university towns and the dense populated areas. With this move the focus of the whole thing switched as well. "Spiel des Jahres" became a label for a "(Grand)parents will buy this Spiel for the children for x-mas to have something beside Monopoly and Mensch Ärgere Dich Nicht". And visitors of the SPIEL waxed from the individual nerds to whole families with a totally different attitude towards gaming.

The idea of game authors being celebreties like authors of literature developed as well and the publishing companies that already had a firm stand in the children games field - like Kosmos, Ravensburger and Schmidt Spiele - adapted the new trend and showed that game companies can make a profit with mass market games aimed at gamers older than 12, the consequence was a boom era of game publishing companies in the late 80ies and early 90ies.

As the "traditional" companies like Ravensburger already had a working distribution network - toys and game department in the big department store companies (there used to be more of those back then) and the Vedes organisation (a distribution chain for smaller toy stores) - games for elder gamers were available and present in basically every single town in Germany.

So everyone who walks through the toy/game section of a decent department store will be confronted with a limited selection of games for gamers beyond 12 - Spiel des Jahres winners and candidates of the last decade. Each town with more than 100.000 inhabitants will most probably sport a FLGS or at least a dedicated toy/game store linked to the Vedes network, set in some remote corner, selling games, RPG games and stuff and CCGs.

For some historical reasons, German game departments and general toy stores hardly have any co-sim or wargames, only specialised FLGS will hold a decent assortment. Wargame(r)s are still eyed with suspicion and imported wargames regularly cause visits of a prosecuting attorney if the game depicts emblems of the former Nazi government.

Since the SPIEl has become an event with 100.000 to 150.000 visitors it is covered in lots of German media - primarily the local and regional ones, but even the established, traditional nationwide newspapers spent half a column on the Spiel des Jahres - at leasat once a year.

Nevertheless, a majority of German parents will rather buy console and PC games for their kids and leave them alone with these instead of sit at a table and play some rounds of Dominion or Settlers.

Ciao

Martin
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Jason
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Trantor42 wrote:
Being from Germany, this is kind of hard for me to answer since I don’t have a comparison. I’d say that board games are mostly seen as fun for kids or the whole family. It’s not unusual at all to find the current Spiel des Jahres under the Christmas tree in families with children aged 8-14.
So, going back to the original question... is it fair to say the majority of folks in Germany DON'T substitute board games for TV or video games? Do these other forms of entertainment still prevail?
 
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Cheryll Gerk
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Yes, certainly. Watching TV and playing video games are most certainly much bigger hobbies than boardgames for most people. I don't know anyone who plays boardgames on a daily basis (unless you count online stuff).

As it was said, for most people in Germany boardgames are something you do on occasion for a family evening or a fun night with friends. It's for the most part not a time-filling hobby.
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Peter Thur
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Pentaclebreaker gave a very good summary of the situation here in Germany. thumbsup

It is indeed very difficult to separate the "Insider"/Gamer-View from the general public perception of games/gaming. If I want to say "I'm a gamer" it becomes "Ich bin ein Spieler" in german and may easily misunderstood as being a gambling addict.

Boardgames are quite common, but usually the family-frienly ones like Settlers or Carcassonne. The "Spiel des Jahres" label is treasured by game publishers because it's the only way to boost a game's print run from 1.000-2.000 to 100.000+.
For many people, gaming is a pastime for kids or families. half a dozen adults spending hours with boardgames seems strange to them because boardgames are still somewhat "childish" - but general acceptance is rising.

Yes, I'd say TV or video games are still dominant, but there's a growing number of people who appreciate the social aspect of boardgames.
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Speaking as an outsider, my experience is that there are two significant differences.

As described, if you go into a main dept store in Germany, in the toy dept you will find a wall of games you will immediately recognise from BGG. In the UK/US, you would only find the same selection in a FLGS (although reports on BGG suggest WalMart/Target and others are starting to stock a few good games). But a UK dept store would only have Hasbro, Trivial Pursuits roll&move or quiz type rubbish. So in that sense, the games we know are much more mainstream in Germany. Also, the SdJ winner usually sells around half a million copies in Germany in the first year of publication (I've had that from several industry insiders over the years). But the biggest selling game in Germany is still Monopoly.

The second significant difference, and I've seen this first hand from visits to shows and games clubs beyond Essen over several years, is that around half the public gamers in Germany are female. In the UK, I'd say only 1 in 10 public gamers are women (although of course, more may be players at home). The point being, it's considered normal in Germany for women to play board games, whereas here, boardgames are still seen culturally as boys toys (a misandrist phrase). Whether that is a product of the games themselves being more acceptable to women (less direct aggression), or women in Germany feeling less inhibited in public, is something you can bicker over yourselves. But it is a significant difference in my view.
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Hilko Drude
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Vincent_V wrote:
If you tell somebody that you are a gamer most people are baffled.



I am rather baffled at this remark. That has never happened to me, not once. There are people who don't like gaming much, and that's fine, of course - but wherever I have been in the last year, nobody has ever raised an eyebrow about what I do.
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Germany even has an official club for promoting boardgames: Spiel des Jahres eV (http://www.spiel-des-jahres.com/ Game of the Year). They have press releases and once per year the winner gets huge media attention (news, newspapers).

I would guess that most families in Germany own at least one of those recommended games as they are a good gift for christmas or birthdays. Next to those games, you also would find a few classics: Monopoly, Risk, Malefiz, Mensch ärgere dich nicht (Pachisi).

1 to 10 boardgames: average family
more than 50 boardgames: most likely a bgg user
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