The Spiel des Jahres critics' award was founded in 1978 by a working group of leading game reviewers in German-speaking countries.
The award is sponsored by "Spiel des Jahres e.V." a non-profit association of game review columnists in German-speaking countries.
The awards granted by "Spiel des Jahres e.V."are intended to promote games as a cultural asset to encourage gaming amongst family and friends and to provide an aid to selecting the best games from a wide range of products on offer.
The main award is Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year), for which games of outstanding quality may be nominated annually. The jury also publishes the shortlist of nominated games for a given year.
The jury consists solely of journalists who specialize in game reviews, have worked for extended periods for newspapers, magazines, and broadcast organizations and who have thereby proven their competency and ability to make sound judgments. The association's charter forbids jury membership to any person involved in any way with games publishing and sales.
The jury will consider all new family and adult games published during the current and previous calendar year. There is no separate request for submissions. The election procedure goes through two phases: an information gathering phase and an initial evaluation phase.
After the two phases end, the jury meets in conference to create a list of candidates. From this list a shortlist of three nominees is selected for the main award. The winner of the Spiel des Jahres award is elected the evening before the announcement of the award.
The nominees for the main award and the special awards are judged on the following aspects:
- Game idea (originality, playability, play value)
- Rules design (structure, clarity, understandability)
- Game materials (features, workmanship)
- Layout and presentation (box, game board, rules)
Form of the Award
The Spiel des Jahres critics' award is a merit award with no monetary prize included. Award winners can use the award for advertising and publicity. Use of the Spiel des Jahres logo requires the additional payment of a license fee.
In order to preserve its independence the jury rejects all forms of external financing. Its work is financed solely through its reporting activities and from the license fees for the logo.