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The Spiel des Jahres is one of the biggest, if not the biggest award in European gaming. It is estimated that winning Spiel des Jahres can increase the sales tenfold.

I am interested to know what process is used to come to the decisions for the winner of the Spiel des Jahres. Obviously there is a jury and a list of nominations; but how are the nominations and the final decisions about the winners made?

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From the Spiel's website (the English version at least):

Jury 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.

Election Procedure 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.

Judgment Criteria 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)
  • Layout and presentation (box, game board, rules)
  • Design (features, workmanship)

So the jury are pretty powerful as far as I can make out. But hopefully unbiased!

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