The 2018 Imagination Gaming Awards - A Dream Year!

“Winning is only half of it, having fun is the other half” once said the famous sports coach Andrew Phillips, and here at Imagination Gaming we couldn’t agree more.  The 2018 Imagination Gaming award winners have been announced and we have had so much fun finding out which games would get a bronze, silver or gold award and our coveted seal of approval.

Family, fun and education are what we are all about and our awards were set up to find and celebrate the best games in their field from all over the world. Many of the categories represent our work in schools and we are looking for those games that can teach literacy, maths, cross curricular subjects and problem solving skills in a fun, creative and imaginative way as well as those that are just wonderful family fun.  This year we have been spoilt with nearly 100 games entered into the awards across our 10 awards categories from some of the most exciting games designers and publishers out there.

This spring was like a mini Christmas every week as we opened box after box of exciting new games.  We thought we had seen a lot of family games but our minds have been blown by all the interesting new themes and game mechanics we have seen this year.  Long story short… We all have very long Christmas lists now!

We can’t possibly mention all the great games we have seen but we would like to share some of our team’s personal favourites and some stories from the awards.

Literacy is dear to our hearts so we were very excited to see the games in this category.  Werewords from Bezier Games (Literacy – Gold, Family - Gold) grabbed our attention from the beginning; lovely graphics, clever game play, with a perfect app to accompany the card game.  Guess the secret word to save the village from the werewolves but secret roles may help or hinder the villager’s efforts.  Word Bits from The Green Board Game Company (Literacy – Silver, Family – Bronze) is a fast, frantic word game where a category and the letters from a number of dice set the scene for players to call out words that fit.  Playing this in school with a group of 10 year olds had us reeling… a word containing the letters F and R that is a game?  The children couldn’t yell “Fortnite” quick enough or loud enough!

Maths made easy was what we were hoping for and that is what we got times 2!  Alana’s Animals from Think Noodle (Maths -Silver, Family – Silver) and Chicken Out from Gibson’s Games (Maths – Gold, Family – Gold) were wonderful little card games that get kids doing maths without them even noticing and proves that great things do come in tiny packages!  Alana’s Animals wants you to count cute farm animals and apply basic maths concepts such as bigger than, this but not that and most/least whilst having a ball on the farm.  Multiple games to play with the card set that grows with ability mean that families will go back to this game again and again.  Chicken Out is a fab, kid twist on blackjack.  Add chicken cards to the row without going over 21 or chicken out for less but definite points; what children won’t go crazy for a little light gambling with chickens?!  Basic arithmetic skills are improved by this clever game.

Cross Curriculum saw us getting into a hot debate over a game of Vote Me! From Redwell Games (Cross Curric – Bronze, Family – Bronze).  We loved watching the families debate the merits of doughnut policing… We were laughing so hard we could barely vote!  Can You Hear Me? from Vision Works (Cross Curric – Silver, Family – Bronze) was another interesting game which our web developer guru was insanely good at!  A great PSHE tool, it turns out that watching Japanese anime makes you a super expert at decoding the wonderfully drawn cartoon characters emotions.  We were all in awe of his empathic prowess!

Choosing a game from the problem solving category was a conundrum (get it?) but Match Madness from Asmodee (Problem – Gold, Family – Gold) and 13 Ghosts from Artipia Games (Problem – Gold, Family – Gold) were stand out contenders for the IG team.  Match Madness looked good, had simple ‘arrange the blocks to match the picture’ game play but was devilishly addictive… They tried to make us go to rehab but we say No, No, No!  13 Ghosts must be the cleverest and spookiest deduction game on the market – the IG team were terrified at how good this game was.  Beautiful artwork supports the simple task of deducing which numbered ghost from 1 to 13 the other player is holding in their secret vault while they try to deduce yours.  So simple, so clever, so playable, again and again.

Family games are close to our hearts and we watched one of the team’s eight year old daughter swoon over one choice while her mum lost her heart to the other.  The little girls love was Quirk Legends from Emmerse Studios (Family – Silver).  A modern and wonderful take on Happy Families or Go Fish, this lovely little game gets you making the noises of creatures of legend to ask for the cards you need.  What noise does a unicorn make?  One little girl we played with thought long and hard before putting her hands to her head to make a horn and exclaiming sweetly… “Magic Horse!”.  Just perfect!  The grownups choice was That’s a Question by Czech Games Edition.  How well do you know your opponents? What questions can you predict their answers to?  Which questions will you choose? and What have squirrels got to do with it??  A family friendly, ethics questions game got the award administrator asking her IT obsessed other half “which would you miss more? touch screens or romantic evenings?” Needless to say we had much more fun watching him squirm that he had trying to answer that one!  We should also mention that the rule book is the funniest thing we have read in forever! Well done Czech games for making the rules almost as good as the game!

If we are being very honest, Young Einsteins is always a hard category for us to choose from.  Our little ones are not so little anymore but when they were, we remember long afternoons playing ‘baby’ games that made us want to sit in a corner throwing breadcrumbs at ourselves so we were delighted to see the new generation of littlies games that adults can actually enjoy playing too.  Both choices are from HABA Games and we think they are great.  Tiny Park (Young Einsteins – Bronze, Family – Bronze) has a lovely, yatzee-style game mechanic, where picture dice rolls help you to build a tiny theme park.  Teaching children spatial, shape manipulation skills and enhancing their ability to predict and judge risk, Tiny Park is a lot of fun for grownups too.  Silly Shenanigans (Young Einsteins – Gold, Family – Silver) is a lovely little game about pixies who love toys.  Involving actually hiding glorious little wooden toys in a secret toy cave, this game asks children to use their memory to remember the toys hidden in the cave and use their deductive reasoning to decide if they need a given toy based on its colour and shape.  The children we played this with were so engaged with this game and we have to admit we love setting the scene for them, explaining about the naughty pixies who take the toys and hide them in the little cave and how they have to be clever and win them back! Sweet, fun and a bit smart too!

Last but not least we have to mention The BIGGY… When I Dream from Asmodee (Literacy – Gold, Family – Gold).  What can we say?  We could not have dreamt of a better game.  Beautiful artwork, a lovely three dimensional board, a blindfold and the dreamer’s imagination.  Players give clues to objects to the blind folded dreamer who guesses the object and then has to remember it to later include it in his dream.  Points are awarded for accuracy of guesses and accurate recollections but the dreams themselves are as fantastical and inventive as real life!  A wonderful night of family fun that we cannot recommend highly enough.

The full list of winners can be found on our Imagination Gaming Website Award Winners page and we would like to finish with a huge thank you to all the judges, the families visiting our Family Zone at the UK Games Expo, the IG team and of course the wonderful games designers and publishers whose support and participation have again made our awards such a great success.  Thank you all and see you again in the Autumn for the 2019 Awards!

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