Dale Yu: SPIEL 2022 Saturday update
OK, Saturday always ends up being my last day at the show because I generally leave super early Sunday morning in order to be home by Sunday night in order to make it to work Monday morning.
Didn’t get to write anything last night as the whole night was spent at the annual Spiel des Jahres dinner, which I am thankful for my invitation each time it comes. It’s a great event held at the Philharmonie; and it’s a celebration of the year, a celebration of the winners of the three awards, and a nice way to have a meal with friends and colleagues, and then a chance to play some games.
The buffet dinner was standard German hotel buffet food, though certain green haired game designers thought the saltimbocca was a bit dry and was quite confused claiming that the carrots were “greens”. After the meal, the tables were cleared, and people had a chance to play games. This goes on into the night, and it is always one of the highlights of my week here. Many thanks to Bernd Keller from AMIGO to take some time out of his busy night to “teach” us the rules to Sauscharf. I came in dead last, even losing to Hanno (from Lookout) – but it’s OK, I might lose to him at this game, but i’m gonna kick his butt in our fantasy football matchup this weekend!
Though a lot of things seem to have changed about SPIEL, this is not one of them for me… The Halls seem emptier at the start of the day, but by noontime, it’s as busy as I ever remember it (for a non-holiday weekend). Most every stand is full, and the aisles are filled as well. I’d say that there is over 90% compliance with masks worn correctly over nose and mouth. I am sure that Merz Verlag will give some attendance reports after the weekend is over, but at least for now, it seems like the crowds are similar to pre-covid times…
So, wearing masks is certainly a change from the past. The other big change that I noticed is that there are very few shops to buy from in the halls. There is no Galeria stand (maybe since Karstadt bought them, they no longer want to do this?), no allgames4u. Spiele Offensive is still there, but most of their wares look to be clearance. Also the Heidelberger basement bargain stand feels smaller than it used to be. There also are fewer used game stalls though spielbar still here – with at least 3 different stands scattered around the halls.
Interestingly, many of the stalwart publishers now sell their own games here. Ravensburger, Schmidt, Amigo now all have sections of their booth devoted to the transfer of euros for games. Interestingly, there is also a movement towards electronic payment. When I first starting coming to SPIEL, cash was the only way to get games; now, there are many vendors who take credit cards, and a surprising number who ONLY accept credit cards.
Hmm, other things that were missing… There are always a constant turnover of companies, and this year proved no exception. First, there was no Comic Action this year – there is usually an entire hall set aside for comics and whatnot; and I am not sure if this is a permanent change or not. Hall 2 felt like it had more of the “regular gaming” companies than in the past; with large stands from Pandasaurus, Zoch, Eagle Gryphon, Indie, etc all taking up residence there. What was missing was Klask – a stand that took up an entire corner of the hall last year. It was maybe a bit quieter; and there was definitely a decrease in temporary forehead tattoos…
Another usual that was missing was Boardgamegeek. The website still had plenty of people here for meetings and for preparation for BGG.con – but no dedicated booths; which also means, no recorded videos nor livestreaming. Only time will tell if this is a permanent change or not. As I’m usually actually at SPIEL, I’ve never relied on the stream as a way to get info about the fair.
As far as food goes, I’m a big fan of German food, and I definitely enjoyed being back to partake of my favorites. Here in the Messe, there are more options than in the past – there are the usual snackpoints (official convention center snack bars), but there are now also food trucks outside Galeria and a few more than usual in the courtyard between 2 and 3. Sure, at lunchtime the lines outside the food trucks are pretty long; but if you were looking to take a break from the people and spend a bit of time outside; it was a nice chance to do that.
Just to be safe, the favorite food cart was still there. Due to supply chain issues, the potato is now up to 6 Euros, but still well worth it…
OK, time to go play luggage tetris. I have maybe a few more games than I intended, and now I have to figure out how to get them all back across the ocean!
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor