This is a slight detour from my previous installments of the Essen Preview… In this blog entry, I’ll recap some of the news that has been communicated to me via the official press releases from Friedhelm Merz Verlag, the outfit that actually runs the SPIEL… They usually send out five or six missives over the months leading up to the fair. I’m taking a minute to paraphrase the bulletins here for this weekend preview. I’m not sure that anyone else is sharing the information found in the official press bulletins that are sent out from the organizers, and I must admit that they have some interesting tidbits in each!
The first press information bulletin arrived about three weeks ago. It was in this missive that the addition of Hall 7 to the exhibition space was announced. Also, it was announced that “a number of countries will have national pavilions, including Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, and (for the first time) the Czech Republic”. In the past, I can remember there being a Korean pavilion, but I honestly don’t remember one for the other countries listed. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out…
Ticket prices for this year were also announced:
- One Day Ticket (Adult): 11,50 EUR
- One Day Family Ticket (max 2 adult, 2 kid): 26 EUR
- Four Day Ticket (Adult): 27 EUR
I threw the family ticket info in there because there is always the chance that SPIEL coincides with one of the school holidays in the region. When this happens, there is also a huge swell of attendance compared to the years when the holiday is not at the same time.
The most recent (#2) arrived just yesterday. As it stands now, the organizers are expecting 780 exhibitors from 34 countries. Of course, these counts also include exhibitors for the “Comic Action!” portion of the show, so not all of those 780 exhibitors will be there with boardgames… Another interesting fact is that thus far over 700 new products have been registered for debut at SPIEL ’11, and this is “the largest number ever seen in the fair’s 29-year history”.
There is certainly attention being paid to children’s games this year. It has been estimated by “Fachgruppe Spiel” that there has been a 30% growth in the genre over the past three years. Additionally, AMIGO has a new series of games, the “Ö+Koo” series which is significant for the fact that these games will be made with 100% biodegradable material so that “it is not just the players who win… the environment wins as well”. The organizers have also spotlighted a new release from Queen called “Sparta” as the author, Yannick Holtkamp, is a 14-year-old high school student. His game “employs a strategy mix based on the rules of chess and checkers”
There have always been tournaments at SPIEL, but Hans im Gluck is going big-time this year. The German championships and then WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS in both Carcassone and Dominion will be held this year during the fair. For the first time, the final games will be open to the public for viewing. Initial plans are to have live commentary during the games themselves (not sure who will be providing this service!) and the games will be shown on “two large screens and numerous small ones”. The prize of the Carcassone world championship will be a luxury banquet for ten people. The prize for the Dominion tournament is being held as a surprise and will be announced during the finale.
Brain power games first arrived on the scene last year with Mindflex from Mattel. (NB: A new version of Mindflex came out recently, and it will soon be reviewed here on the OG). This year, TITAN has a “Neurosky Mindwave” headset that can be used to control computer programs and games. I’ll be interested to see the semi-practical applications of the technology behind Mindflex.
Cosplay at SPIEL – As I mentioned earlier, there is a comic book portion of Spiel that is not often mentioned by the gamer blogs such as this. The press release does note that there will be a Cosplay event on Saturday at the SPIEL, and I might just have to check it out to see how it stacks up with GenCon. Sadly, as I’ve never been to Comic Con in San Diego, I can’t compare it to the mother of all Cosplay events, but it’ll probably still provide some good picture taking opportunity…
I will continue to paraphrase the press releases as they come out so that you can also see what the organizers are trying to emphasize in their own press releases… More to come on the games themselves on Wednesday with the next installment of the preview.
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor