Generation Analog 2023: Analog Game Awards

At the Generation Analog 2023 online conference (July 26-27), Jan Švelch presented a paper about analog game awards such as Spiel des Jahres or the American Tabletop Awards. This two-day event was organized by Analog Game Studies and Game in Lab and featured scholarship on various types of analog games, ranging from board games to tabletop role-playing games and collectible card games. One of the higlights of the conference was a keynote lecture by Jeeyon Shim about pareidolia (a tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus) and its implications for game design. The entire event was recorded and can be watched on demand on YouTube.

Generation Analog 2023 Panel 5: Industry and Ideology (which includes Jan’s talk about analog game awards)

In his presentation Industrial Reflexivity and Cultural Economics of Game Awards and Prizes (video above), Jan Švelch talked about the functions of analog game awards and how their practical operations and underlying political economy influence which games are celebrated and recommended to players. The five case examples chosen for the talk were: American Tabletop Awards, ENNIES, Golden Geek Awards, Origins Awards, and Spiel des Jahres. Even this small sample shows a variety of approaches, including different categories of awards (from the tightly focused ATTA and Spiel des Jahres to the more expansive Origins Awards or ENNIES) or different backgrounds of award judges (journalists, influencers, or industry professionals). In the analog gaming space, prizes, especially those established ones like Spiel des Jahres, which started back in 1979, can have a significant impact on game sales, which lends the award organizations an influential role. At the same time, many of these awards are built on volunteer labor despite creating monetary value for analog game publishers. Analog game awards also seem to follow a rather different format than video game awards. Whereas The Game Awards is a large media event, which combines an award ceremony with promotional trailers, new game announcements, and time limited discounts on nominated games, for analog game awards ceremonies seem to be much less important than the lists of winning games.

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