The second edition of the games fair “Play it!” has been running in the Duisburg-Nord landscape park since today. The publishing house Nostheide, actually the publisher of various trade and consumer magazines in the family and toys sector, is organizing the still young games event until March 31, 2019. There are many well-known publishers as exhibitors, but also dealers.

Time for board games

From fun children's games to complex board games for adults, the "Spiel Doch!" in Duisburg has everything to offer in 2019 that the market has to offer in terms of different game concepts: just one size smaller than at a "real" trade fair.

The new Duisburg event for board games is positioned between a trade fair and an oversized game meeting: family-friendly, clear, but above all inexpensive. Children under the age of ten enjoy free admission anyway, otherwise a day ticket costs four euros. You can play to your heart's content for a day. Numerous well-known publishers, including, for example, KOSMOS, Asmodee Germany, Amigo Spiele, Hans im Glück or Pegasus Spiele have set up gaming areas in the former steel processing hall in the North Landscape Park. At the supervised gaming tables, so-called “explaining bears” ensure that even beginners without previous knowledge can start playing the selected game after just a few minutes.

Overview instead of crowds: Photo: André Volkmann
Overview instead of crowds: Photo: André Volkmann

Visitors are already familiar with this tried-and-tested concept from similarly organized events, but it works particularly well at the “Play it!” – not least because of the clear number of visitors, at least on Friday. Significantly more activity is to be expected for Saturday and Sunday. In addition to the offers directly from the publishers, players can also try out titles from the games rental in the middle of the hall. Shopping options should not be missing, after all, games that have been found to be good often end up in your own collection after a test run.

Board games are booming - but different

Board games continue to enjoy great popularity. The number of players is increasing, as are the trade fair visitors - and the sales of the publishers are also set to grow. Still, the trend seems to be changing. Instead of skyrocketing numbers, more recent statistics point to flatter growth. The scene is changing, also because players have different demands on board games.

A publisher that can make statements about its community to a particularly high degree is “rudy Games”. The game developers from Austria can accurately analyze the activities of their players: this is made possible by the focus on app-supported board games such as "Leaders - A combined Games", "Scubi Sea Saga" or "Lost Galaxy". The technical progress, which is also noticeable in the parlor games segment, can be seen clearly in the creations of "rudy games".

Manfred Lamplmair from rudy-Games would like to see children in particular "use smartphones sensibly". Photo: André Volkmann
Manfred Lamplmair from rudy-Games would like to see children in particular "use smartphones sensibly". Photo: André Volkmann

However, gaming behavior has changed: instead of times of boom, app-based board games sometimes experience times of stagnation. Only a few parents buy parlor games that rely on the use of apps without any reservations. "Children already play so much on their smartphones," says Manfred Lamplmair, explaining one of the prevailing parental opinions. So why should kids use board game apps as well? "We want to show that you can also spend time on your mobile phone with app games," says Lamplmair, referring to the qualities of the innovative board games. Titles like "Interaction" are anything but static games in front of the screen: the colorful family game relies on an immensely challenging character that often encourages movement and interaction. Manfred Lamplmair also sees potential in app board games for edutainment.

Last but not least, the number of players in the active community of the "rudy games family" proves that the concepts of the Austrians work. Breaking the mark of 100.000 players was a milestone, meanwhile “rudy-Games” serves around 300.000 enthusiastic users. With healthy growth in mind, the Austrians dare to cross the pond. The small company wants to position itself significantly more internationally. The focus is not on an assembly line production of new titles: "We always want to improve our games," explains Manfred Lamplmair. Some of the ideas come directly from the players and it is not uncommon for their imaginary improvements to be implemented. This is also the case with the newly released “DDR” expansion for the Leaders board game. The fact that Erich Honnecker, of all people, can improve the troop resources with his planned economy comes from the Leaders community.

Like hardly any other game company, "rudy games" can respond to requests and suggestions in a targeted manner: the apps in particular make this possible. Orient game content to age, preferences or physical requirements? Hardly a problem for the Austrians, because the flexibility in the programmability of app board games allows exactly that.

Also suitable for frequent players

The "Play it!" in Duisburg is not just a family event, even if there are many child-friendly offers among the available board games. Frequent gamers will also find incentives to spend their time in the landscape park: from worker placement to roll-and-write, many entertaining concepts are represented at and on the gaming tables. Sometimes publishers present real innovations at the small game fair: White Goblin Games has a prototype in its luggage, the final version of which will only be available at the upcoming SPIEL'19 - real fans can "Maya", the title of the sneak preview, examine in the early version. Asmodee presents a new miniature offshoot from the Lord of the Rings universe, invites you to a round of "Maki Stack", but also inspires players with proven titles such as Splendor or Keyforge.

>> Play it! 2019: Here go to the picture gallery <

The range of games offered by the exhibitors is impressive, not least because for ten euros - that's how much a season ticket for all days costs - you can hardly try out new board games to your heart's content for less. The titles "Flugelschlag" by Tierra del Fuego Games and "Hadara" by Hans im Glück were undoubtedly particularly attractive to frequent players. Far less strategic, but no less entertaining is "Calavera", a new roll-and-write game from moses.Verlag.

The "Play it!" runs until March 31st. Visitors can visit the event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 19 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 18 p.m.