essen spiel

Essen Spiel 2014 - Launching our 2015 Game Awards

This weekend Imagination Gaming is in Germany for Essen Spiel 2014. This is one of, if not 'the', largest  annual gaming convention in the world. Every year we spend four very hectic days looking for the newest and most excting games to add to our collection for use in our game events, and where possible, to make some very hard to get games available to you through our store!

It is also an opportunity for us to start talking about next years Imagination Gaming Family & Education Game Awards! It is here where we usually begin to collect interest and submissions even though the 2015 awards are still 8 months away, and this year we expect to find some real gems.



The Imagination Gaming Family & Education Awards 2015 Are Here!


The IG Awards are back… and we’ve stepped it up… a lot!

Yep, this years Imagination Gaming Family & Education Game Awards are back and the process of finding this years great games begins.

For 2015 we have a brand new part of the Imagination Gaming website dedicated to the awards here, but which you can also find at the end of this article, so hang on a minute! There’s lots to add, especially the games which we will release throughout the process, but we’re really proud of it and hope you’ll love it too.

As always we started talking about this year’s awards months ago, very quietly, but for very good reason. Each year in October we go to Essen Spiel - the worlds largest hobby gaming convention, and even though the awards process is 6 months away, it’s the perfect opportunity to get started. Probably because it’s the ‘eye of the storm’ so to speak - the calm bit before we start the new awards season and also when we’ve just recovered from the previous one!

In fact we started getting new games handed to us at the culmination of last years awards, in May, at UK Games Expo. These were substantially added to not only at Essen, but throughout the year as we are sent new games to not only test but to use in our workshops and events nationwide.

Some of the games are yet to be published and from small companies or individuals, some are heading to market, and some already have the weight of major games industry players behind them.

Where the games come from doesn’t matter to us, all that we are concerned with is finding great games to share with those who love what we do and the wider gaming community. This in turn helps to give these games the exposure they need either to get off the ground, or find their way into even more homes and schools than before…

If you’ve never come across the Imagination Gaming Family & Education Game Awards before, below is a brief catch up to get you up to speed… and then you’ll be ready for this year!


Back in 2013…

...we decided to launch a new set of awards to recognise great games that families and educators consider invaluable in developing a range of social and curriculum skills… as well as just good, solid fun!

Of course, we did this as part of Imagination Gaming's ongoing ambition to raise awareness in the UK of the joy and value that great table-top games bring to everyday life, as well as the influence and effect they can have as resources to improve thinking and communication skills for everyone.

The whole process enables UK game enthusiasts to see games they would never normally have access to, games makers from all over the world and of any size to get their games noticed, and for us to find games that we can continue to show to the thousands children, teachers and parents in our daily schools, libraries, events and community groups nationwide. Hopefully everyone's a winner!

During the awards process we consider a wide range of board and card games currently available as well as the new ones looking to get our and your attentiona and find a market in the UK, with a view to finding the ones that really do what it says on the box! The awards recognise the games that our panel of judges and ourselves have not only played and enjoyed, but also, (and most crucially,) the games we have found to have a significant impact in engaging, exciting and educating whoever we have been playing them with.

We were over the moon with the response first time round from the industry and fans alike and from early on it was clear that this would become an annual event...


Year 2, 2014!

The 2nd year of the game awards saw us introduce another category - the Family Classic award - and this along with the Excelled in Schools awards became more of a 'hall of fame' ('hall of game' if you prefer!), with all winners being recognised equally. We look forward to adding to this illustrious list each year and recognising the games that have made a consistent difference with schools and families year after year.


And now?!...

So here we are for the 2015 IG Game Awards... with a brand new website and lots more to see!

We will be compiling nomination lists for each award from new games submitted by companies world-wide for review and consideration, and where applicable, games from our collection used in Imagination Gaming workshops based on our experience and the feedback they have received.

All nominated games will be available to play in the Imagination Gaming Family Zone at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham at the end of May, with all visitors having the chance to vote on an extra special award as part of their gaming experience. All awards will be announced the following week.

We are welcoming and encouraging submissions for each category right now, so...


What's In It for the Nominees and the Winners?

Everlasting fame and glory?! Quite possibly, but also…

Each winner will be given a badge of honour to use to promote their award winning games to the world! We will supply companies with electronic versions of logos to use at will throughout promotion and packaging as they see fit. These will demonstrate the game has been recognised as having outstanding merit by the very type of people that are looking for games to add to their collection, or a great starting place for those new to games like this.

Games will regularly be used as appropriate throughout our Games Days and Events nationwide as examples of great games that families and educators will love to play and teach with for years to come. This means that school children, teachers and families will be able to sit down and experience the games for themselves and get a chance to learn all about the game from one of our demonstrators and see just how good it is.

Games that we receive that are shortlisted for any award and are not currently available in the UK will be immediately brought to the attention of the distributors we work with. We don't just want our customers and schools to be able to play the game with us… if they like it; we want to make sure we can get one for them to keep too!

You can be sure that any game that we like for any reason throughout this process will, wherever possible be made available via the Imagination Gaming online store, and promoted as such!

If you would like to submit one of your games for this years awards we'd love to hear from you. Visit the Awards main page here to find more details on individual awards, eligibility and how you can enter. The closing date for submissions this year is Friday April 24th 2015


As always we would love to hear your thoughts on this years awards and the games as they appear. Find all the latest games and information on our dedicated IG Game Awards page, and all the links you need to tell us what you think via Facebook, Twitter and more.

We look forward to hearing from you and hope you will spread the word too…

...Are You Game?!



Then & Now: The State Of The Hobby Games Industry - Part 2

Where are we now and what’s next?

Helped by the internet, traditional style games, including board, card, dice and tile based games have become increasingly popular. Driven by huge and growing popularity in Europe, especially in Germany, and in America, the hobby is in a very different place to where it was.

The exposure the internet has given traditional gaming has made an enormous difference and allowed smaller companies to reach a much wider audience. The ability for these small niche hobbyists to connect and discuss their passion for gaming has helped this once pilloried pastime to cross over to a much more mainstream audience and has allowed previously isolated groups to meet up both online and in person

It is commonplace now for people to play a board game over the internet with people from across the work and discuss them with like-minded individuals thousands of miles away.



The public's perception of games today is also very different from how it was. Nowadays more families are beginning to understand the value of games and the benefits they can bring. It is not uncommon to see students playing board games in large numbers during free time or on an evening, and the number of gamers continues to grow rapidly.

Games have been seen in popular culture on some of its more popular shows, such as The Big Bang Theory playing Settlers of Catan, and several celebrities have come forward as game addicts, such as Vin Deisel and his love of Dungeons & Dragons.



Strangely to some, games stores have also done very well. There are more game stores now in the UK than there has ever been and, considering the economic climate, that could be seen as a surprise but the range available and number of releases combined with this new positive image and accessibility help to make the market very buoyant.

Stores will always find things tricky, with competition from online retailers, but if they continue to provide a great gaming experience for their players then their future should be in no doubt.



The number of companies manufacturing and designing games has also increased dramatically and although several dominate there are thousands of companies across the world producing a bewildering number of games. Many games, such as Ticket to Ride & Settlers of Catan have crossed over to a mainstream audience, selling millions of copies in a huge number of different languages.

The number of games being translated in to computer games and applications would suggest that they are gaining popularity and companies big and small are being approached to convert their games over to the digital world. The games themselves have evolved far beyond what manufactures could have dreamed of several years ago.

The production quality and components found within modern games can include an incredible array of beautifully designed board, token and figures and have even begun linking with online applications to provide an even deeper and immersive experience.



More players mean its easier for game conventions to both exist and grow and todays conventions are learning the lessons from the old, more niche meet-ups from the past. In fact I am writing this blog from my hotel in Essen, Germany, home of probably the largest game convention in the world.

This huge event, Essen Spiel, attracts tens of thousands of gamers from across the world and is extremely family friendly and can keep you entertained for days. Its four day run will push you to see everything possible within the time allotted and leave you longing for more time.

America has its own goliath event in GenCon, a showcase for hobby game manufacturers, attracting similar numbers but being more gamer orientated.

In the UK, the UK Games Expo is modelling itself on the Essen model and has seen a huge upsurge in numbers over the last few years, helped a little by Imagination Gaming’s family zone activities and the focus on attracting younger gamers and families along for the weekend.

The range of games coming out of late is something to behold though. There are so many wonderful games coming out at the moment that no matter what your preference there’ll be something out there you’ll love. The production standards of today’s games are wonderful and the range of mechanics and styles are simply breath taking.

Here's 5  of our top games at present:

1. Incan Gold

2. Jungle Speed

3. Gobblet

4. Take It Easy

5. Zeus on the Loose

Theses are just some of the popular games we use in schools and public events across the country on a dailly basis. They combine all the essential ingredients to create very cool and interesting games that help to engage and excite in line with our 'learn to play, play to learn' philosophy. Of course these are just a snippet of a huge array of games that we use and will be adding to this very weekend whilst here in Germany. We look forward to telling you all about them and maybe even playing some of them with you soon!

Hopefully this has given newer gamers out there a quick overview of how the industry started out and has changed. We will be looking a bit more in depth in certain areas soon, chatting with distributors, game store owners and designers about how they make their living and how they see the industry. We’ve another few days to go at the convention in Essen and can’t wait. We’ve already seen several new games we can’t wait to bring back to the UK and try out with unsuspecting students and families!