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 is 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 - and not without reason. “Because of us, many visitors are considering going on their Easter holiday later,” says Thomas Fedder from the City of Ratingen's Office for Culture and Tourism. He is organizing the “family games event”, which in 2019 will be the tenth anniversary of the tenth anniversary of the event, together with Andrea L Genealogie, head of child and youth work at the Evangelical Church Congregation, and Charlotte Fischer-Simon from the Office for Children, Youth and Family.

Of course, the anniversary will be celebrated accordingly: with a birthday cake, baked and decorated by the girls' group of the “JuTu” under expert guidance. It is certain that the cake should be three-tiered. It's probably already clear what the decoration should look like - the organization team just didn't want to reveal anything. “Please come over, have a look, be amazed and try!”, Says the written notification for the Ratinger Spieletage 2019. The sweet work of art will be cut on Saturday, April 13th, probably around 15 p.m. - then Ratingen's Mayor Klaus Pesch will also be 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 visits the games event: The Ratinger Spieletage is organized under city management, together with the Protestant parish. Although manageable, the event visitors and publishing house representatives on the city side ensure tourism income: "Each individual brings in around 80 to 100 euros in the city treasury," says Thomas Fedder.

Adolescents and young adults from the youth work of the Protestant parish as well as people who are involved in the VHS game meeting are highly motivated to help shape 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 organization team. Around 60 helpers, mostly 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. Large commercial events allocate the number of gaming tables on the basis of monetary guidelines. In Ratingen, on the other hand, every publisher is assigned exactly two gaming tables - no matter how big the company is. “We treat everyone equally,” explains Thomas Fedder, who is a passionate player himself. The fact that the visit is still worthwhile for the publishers is proven by the always full waiting lists that have been in use for many years. Not only do German publishers present their new products in the Dumeklemmer Hall, but also publishers from abroad like to come to Ratingen. “A publishing house from Finland was there last year,” says Fedder, visibly proud.

It seems to be precisely this renunciation of commerce that inspires many game-loving visitors to the game days. The organizers are happy about the income, however, because the entire proceeds will go to a good cause: this year the “Zukunftskinder” foundation of the evangelical parish of 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 barcode their board games they no longer need and hand them in to the organizers - the players determine the selling price themselves. If you are unsure, you can get support from experienced experts. For the first time, the flea market is software-supported this year: volunteer employees of the “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 authors Martin Schlegel (including “Luther - Das Brettspiel”, Daniel Bernsen (“Textura”) and Jörg von Rüden (“BiberClan”) developed “anniversary games” on their own initiative, which the Will be presented to the public on the weekend of the Ratinger Spieletage, and two of the three titles will even be given as free gifts.

The "Dumeklemmer City Run" by Martin Schlegel is one of the "anniversary games". Photo: André Volkmann
The “Dumeklemmer City Run” by Martin Schlegel is one of the “anniversary games”. 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, roll their way through the inner city of Ratingen.
Photo: André Volkmann

With all the program points and special features, one should not forget: There will be games in Ratingen - two days long. “Some don't even want to go home,” says Charlotte Fischer-Simon from the Office for Children, Youth and Family. The response from visitors - last year that was around 2.800 - is largely positive. Families in particular are “enthusiastic” about the offers. Anyone can play, at almost any age: “We can cover the entire spectrum,” explains Andrea L Bäumen, head of child and youth work at the Protestant Church.

The special character of the Ratinger Spieletage is to be preserved in any case, 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 Lektiven, meaning that everyone will actually find opportunities to play. That cannot be taken for granted, especially not at large trade fair events. 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 there is a large number of visitors.

Playing on the big stage

For the first time at the Ratinger Spieletage, “the big stage can be played”. The stage of the town hall is available as a so-called game arena. Board and card games can then be borrowed and tried out there, supervised by the VHS game club. A total of 54 publishers and 20 game designers present their highlights in the town hall. Game rounds with authors who have their prototypes in their luggage are particularly exciting for frequent gamers: “Porotypes are there to refine games for the audience,” explains Thomas Fedder. “Authors can only improve their games with players from different groups”.

The trends at the Ratinger Spieletage 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 they can simply be covered and used as a standard table, while the game material remains untouched “under the table top” until the next game night.

The Ratinger Spieletage focuses on its “family character”: Parents and their children can stroll through the town hall in a relaxed manner, try out interesting games - and like everyone else, of course, they don't have to pay admission. This is only possible because the city of Ratingen acts as the organizer and provides the premises free of charge, says Thomas Fedder. “We also have an attractive offer for families in Ratingen,” adds Charlotte Fischer Simon. In principle, however, different target groups should be addressed: from casual gamers to parents and grandparents and children to frequent gamers. For the youngest there will be raffles, a wheel of fortune, the toddler crawling area and the Felix mobile game.

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

Rapid development

The Ratinger Spieletage have established themselves as a permanent fixture in the industry: until 2008, a relatively small games exhibition was regularly held in the house on the tower of the evangelical parish. 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. The organizers have seen increasing numbers of visitors over the past ten years. Where the Ratinger Spieletage will be in the next ten years is not yet part of the planning. Charlotte Fischer-Simon, Andrea L Bäumen and Thomas Fedder agree that they want to preserve the “special character” of the Spieletage.

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.