When the Ratinger Spieletage 2019 starts on Saturday, April 13th at 10 a.m., it will be the tenth time. The family-friendly game event in the Dumeklemmer-Halle attracts several thousand visitors every year - not only from Ratingen, but from large parts of Germany. The Ratinger Spieletage 2019 will take place on April 13th and 14th in the Ratinger Stadthalle, Schützenstraße 1 - from 10 a.m. to 18 p.m. Entry is free.

Anniversary cake - and an app

The Ratinger Spieletage are actually one of the more manageable events, but this event in particular is one of the highlights of the year for many board and card players - not without reason. "Because of us, many visitors are considering going on their Easter vacation later," says Thomas Fedder from the City of Ratingen's Office for Culture and Tourism. Together with Andrea Laumen, Head of Children and Youth Work at the Evangelical Church Community, and Charlotte Fischer-Simon from the Office for Children, Youth and Family, he organizes the "family games event", which is being celebrated for the tenth time in 2019.

Of course, the big anniversary is celebrated accordingly: with a birthday cake, baked and decorated by the girls' group of "JuTu" under expert guidance. The cake will have three tiers. It's probably already clear what the decoration should look like - the organization team just didn't want to reveal anything. "Please come by, look, be amazed and try it!", says the written communication about the Ratinger Spieletage 2019. The sweet work of art will be cut on Saturday, April 13, probably around 15 p.m. - that's when Ratingen's mayor Klaus Pesch is closed Guest in the Dumeklemmer Hall.

The family-friendly game event in Ratingen is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Photo: André Volkmann
The family-friendly game event in Ratingen is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
Photo: André Volkmann

It is hardly a surprise that the top city representative attends the games event: The Ratingen Games Days are organized under city management together with the Protestant church community. Although manageable, the event visitors and publishers' representatives on the city side provide tourist income: "Each individual brings around 80 to 100 euros into the city coffers," says Thomas Fedder.

Adolescents and young adults from the youth work of the Protestant church community as well as people who are involved in the adult education center (VHS) play club are highly motivated to help organize the game days in the town hall. The fact that the Ratinger Spieletage can take place in this form is not least thanks to the volunteers who actively support the organizational team. Around 60 helpers, mainly consisting of the "Angels in Action" ensure that "everything runs smoothly" in the town hall.

Equal rights for everyone

Something that makes the Ratinger Spieletage special is the distribution of the available gaming tables. Commercially oriented major events allocate the number of gaming tables based on monetary guidelines. In Ratingen, on the other hand, each publisher is assigned exactly two gaming tables – no matter how large the company is. "We treat everyone equally," explains Thomas Fedder, who is a passionate gamer himself. The fact that the visit is still worthwhile for the publishers is proven by the always full waiting lists, which have been used for many years. In the Dumeklemmer Hall, not only German publishers present their innovations, publishers' representatives from abroad also like to come to Ratingen. "Last year a publisher from Finland was there," says Fedder, visibly proud.

It seems to be precisely this abandonment of commerce that inspires many game-loving visitors to the game days. The organizers are happy about the income, however, because the entire proceeds go to a good cause: this year, the "Children of the Future" foundation of the Evangelical parish in Ratingen.

Income comes partly from donations, but mostly from the popular “Bring & Buy” flea market. "The flea market is a magnet for many visitors," reveals Charlotte Fischer-Simon. Players can add a barcode to the board games they no longer need and hand them in to the organizers – the players determine the selling price themselves. Anyone who is unsure can get support from experienced experts. For the first time this year, the flea market is software-supported: volunteers from "JuTu" have developed special cash register software for this purpose, which is intended to significantly improve processes and make processing easier and faster.

Exclusive anniversary board games

For the tenth birthday, the organizers have come up with something special: The three game designers Martin Schlegel (including "Luther - Das Brettspiel", Daniel Bernsen ("Textura") and Jörg von Rüden ("BiberClan") have developed "anniversary games" on their own initiative, which the will be presented to the public on the weekend of the Ratingen Game Days Two of the three titles will even be available as a free bonus.

The "Dumeklemmer City Run" by Martin Schlegel is one of the "anniversary games". Photo: André Volkmann
Martin Schlegel's "Dumeklemmer City Run" is one of the "anniversary games". 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, throw dice through the city center of Ratingen.
Photo: André Volkmann

With all the program items and special features, it should not be forgotten: there will be games in Ratingen – for two days. "Some don't want to go home at all," says Charlotte Fischer-Simon from the Office for Children, Youth and Family. The response from visitors – last year there were around 2.800 – was mostly positive. Families in particular are "enthusiastic" about the offers. Anyone can play, at almost any age: "We can cover the entire spectrum," explains Andrea Laumen, head of children and youth work at the Protestant church.

In any case, they want to preserve the special character of the Ratinger Spieletage, even if the spatial capacities have already reached the limit. There is still room for larger numbers of visitors: "It's going well," says Andrea Laumen, meaning that everyone will actually find opportunities to play. This is not a matter of course, especially not at large trade fairs. The flow of visitors does not have to be regulated, explains the organization team in unison. The only exception is the flea market, where experience has shown that the rush is large.

Playing on the big stage

For the first time at the Ratingen Game Days it is also possible to "play on the big stage". The stage of the Stadthalle is available as a so-called play arena. Board and card games can then be borrowed and tried out there, supervised by the VHS-Spieletreff. A total of 54 publishers and 20 game designers present their highlights in the town hall. Game rounds with authors who have their prototypes with them are particularly exciting for frequent players: "Porotypes are there to refine games for the audience," explains Thomas Fedder. "Only with players from different groups can authors improve their games at all".

The trends at the Ratingen Game Days include "escape games", board games with electronic support (app board games) and game tables. The latter are also exhibited by a manufacturer in the town hall. "Many demanding games take time," says Thomas Fedder. The advantage of game tables is that you can simply cover them and use them as a standard table, while the game material remains untouched "under the tabletop" until the next game night.

The Ratinger Spieletage focus on their “family character”: Parents and their children can stroll relaxedly through the town hall, try out interesting games – and of course, like everyone else, they don’t have to pay an entrance fee. This is only possible because the city of Ratingen acts as the organizer and makes the premises available free of charge, says Thomas Fedder. "We also have an attractive offer for Ratingen families," adds Charlotte Fischer Simon. In principle, however, different target groups should be addressed: from occasional gamers to parents and grandparents and children to frequent gamers. For the youngest there will be raffles, a wheel of fortune, a toddler corner and the Felix mobile game.

On the other hand, various qualification tournaments are interesting for experts, of which there are only a comparatively small number in Germany. The qualification for “The Settlers of Catan” and “7 Wonders” will be played in Ratingen.

Rapid development

The Ratingen Games Days have become firmly established in the industry: until 2008, a relatively small games exhibition was regularly held in the house at the tower of the evangelical church community. With up to 300 visitors, the event quickly exceeded the spatial possibilities. A move to the Dumeklemmer Hall and the use of synergies in the city attracted around 2010 visitors in 1.600. In the past ten years, the organizers have recorded increasing numbers of visitors. Where the Ratinger Spieletage will be in the next ten years is not yet part of the planning. However, Charlotte Fischer-Simon, Andrea Laumen and Thomas Fedder agree that the “special character” of the Spieltage should be preserved.

The Ratinger Spieletage 2019 will take place on April 13th and 14th in the Ratinger Stadthalle, Schützenstraße 1 - from 10 a.m. to 18 p.m. Entry is free.