Game of the Year is a board game that involves designing a video game. With this idea, the Bonn publisher Nice Game Publishing wants to score points with game fans as part of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Wanting to playfully combine two worlds is ambitious and interesting at the same time. In addition, one seems to want to bring the nostalgic charm of some classic games to the home gaming table. The financing campaign will start at the end of June. 

The indie publisher Nice Game Publishing would like to bring a board game onto the market that relies on the video game industry as the setting. The simple idea: up to four players should design the “Game of the Year”, the best video game of the year. You can also choose to play the title in solo mode. The Bonn publisher wants to finance the project via Kickstarter. It starts with the kickstarter campaign for Game of the Year on June 28th.

Board gamers are turning into video game developers

At Game of the Year, board players slip into the roles of game developers to create a video game from various elements. About the basic idea. This should be implemented on the gaming table by combining different game factors, some genre or features, in order to ultimately create a complete work: the game of the year. The board game concept was developed together with experts who are familiar with the history of video games - this is how it should be possible to capture the special charm of some gaming titles.

An intermediate goal: Build a hype. This means that Game of the Year is thematically close to the games industry, whose players are trying to do just that again and again: to make a video game so popular that the marketing campaign is practically a sure-fire success. It is not uncommon for this to succeed, but success in response to a hype is not always sustainable. With Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red recently demonstrated how fragile fans' enthusiasm for a game can be. Sometimes a positive hype turns into a negative one. 

Players gradually assemble their "video game of the year" from various elements. Image: Nice Game

Players gradually put together their “video game of the year” from various elements. Image: Nice Game

At Game of the Year, players should avoid this and do everything right in solo games or cooperative or competitive processes in order to ultimately create a masterpiece. According to the authors, every round of the game should be unique, this is guaranteed by a wide range of different game elements that make up the best game of the year. 

Last but not least, this board game lives from the nostalgia and the rise of the games industry. This is revealed by the CEO of Nice Publishing, Simon Schwanhäußer: "As children of the 80s and 90s, there is a lot of nostalgia for us." In addition, it is a “fresh topic” - for the scene as a whole, but also for Nice Publishing itself.

"Our last games had post-apocalypse, classic fantasy with orcs and elves, as well as vampires as a theme - terrible monsters, fantasy defense, vampires: Heritage - this time we just wanted something completely different," explains the publisher about the game idea of ​​Game of the Year. “And yet we're kind of geeks. And that's what comes out of it. " But there is more, and that on the meta level. Schwanhäußer: “We also love the creative and the meta-character of the whole thing. So the fact that in Game of the Year we can make games about orcs, elves and vampires again. "

Game of the Year: In development for two years

Developing a board game into a video game takes time - but not nearly as long as developing a video game. "The game has been in development for about two years and has changed a lot", the Nice Publishing CEO tells us. “We started with the topic and gradually developed mechanisms and systems that can carry the thematic feel that we want to convey. We also looked at which comparable games exist in the video game sector - there are also a few - and looked at what works and what doesn't. " 

According to Nice Publishing, the board game game of the year is primarily aimed at fans who also like to play video games - gaming board players or video gamers who want to venture into the analog world of gaming. "People who get big eyes when they see these iconic game covers of the 90s," explains Simon Schwanhäußer about the target group. "And those who like to be creative themselves and have fun thinking up silly game ideas."

However, the publisher also says: "The game is primarily a thematic game, if you are a pure Eurogamer who doesn't want any chance or creative elements in your games, then Game of the Year might not be the right thing."   

Being a video gamer, or at least liking video games, is a good requirement to have fun with Game of the Year. The team behind Nice Game also plays digitally. “Christian, our art director is more of a console player,” says Simon Schwanhäußer. "The last thing he told me was how he annoyed Last of Us 2."

Aliens, Vikings, Dinos and Co: There is a lot in the board game that is also familiar from the digital world. Image: Nice Game

Aliens, Vikings, Dinos and Co: There is a lot in the board game that is also familiar from the digital world. Image: Nice Game

Simon himself, the tough, strong-willed boss, has made the jump: "I used to have consoles too, but from Playstation 4 or so I got out and actually only play on the PC." In the publisher's internal Slack chat, the latest games that someone has played are regularly briefly reviewed.

“Because we are all very busy, these are often games that can be played in small bites, such as roguelite card games like Slay The Spire or Monster Train. Or just games that are “in conversation” at the moment, such as Disco Elyisum or - inevitably - Cyberpunk 2077. " In front of CD Projekt Red's action role-playing game, Schwanhäußer throws himself protectively: "Which, by the way - attention, controversial opinion - I enjoyed playing despite its quirks and which I find the criticism of, at least as a PC player, immensely exaggerated."

Simon Schwanhäußer himself also plays analogue: "For me, board games are incredibly important as a balance and as an“ unplugged ”experience, especially in this increasingly digital age." Even in solo games, it is different to perceive dice and cards haptically. "

And to sit together with friends really physically close and to exchange ideas over the table is simply a completely different experience than playing over the net on the computer ”. Although, of course, both have their raison d'etre, said the publisher.

“From the game maker's point of view, I think board games also have other exciting properties, especially in comparison to video games: On the one hand, there is the creative limitation due to the material: Mechanisms have to be much more sophisticated, often more abstract, because you simply don't 1000 values ​​can be saved or manipulated as variables by a program. This generally leads to better developed and more elegant game ideas and concepts. "

Perhaps also because you can't just “patch” a board game in the way that is common practice with video games, says Schwanhäußer.

Nice Game Publishing?

Nice Publishing? You might have heard the name of the publisher, but maybe not yet. “Dragon Canyon”, “Fantasy Defense” and, most recently, “Vampire the Masquerade-Heritage” are three of the titles from the Bonn-based portfolio. They do not yet see themselves as established in the industry, although they have been active for around a decade. The boss describes it as follows: “We have been in the industry for a good decade now. I started around 2010 with an internship at the Taiwanese board game publisher Swan Panasia ”. Nice Game Publishing sees itself as an indie publisher and thus uses the term that in the games industry now increasingly stands for outstanding game quality. 

“So somehow I still see us as the lovable amateurs who just see what's going on,” said Schwanhäußer. "But of course some employees have joined us in the meantime and we had to and have to become a little more professional and also put a little more emphasis on making money." The main motivation for the publisher, however, is "the joy of trying new things and developing". It started with the Foundation of the online shop for games from Japan, Taiwan and Korea. It then continued with game releases, “where we tried out a wide variety of topics, materials and sales channels,” said the publisher. 

Vampire - The Masquerade: Heritage went over the counter until it was sold out in the meantime. Image: Nice Game

Vampire - The Masquerade: Heritage went over the counter until it was sold out in the meantime. Image: Nice Game

Nice Publishing currently has two bestsellers: “Since we are also trying our hand at distribution, we have bought“ Kluster ”a party game with magnets from our French partners for German distribution. This is a very simple game that is interesting for non-gamers as well, and it is selling very well at the moment. As for our own games, Vampire: The Masquerade - Heritage is our bestseller ”. The game has even sold out at the moment, adds the publisher. The title is a legacy game in the pen & paper role-playing game universe of Vampire: The Masquerade.


The board game Game of the Year is now to be crowdfunded via Kickstarter, which is a good way for an indie publisher. Criticism of the platform is growing, however, because large publishers sometimes use Kickstarter as a kind of covert online shop. Not so Nice Publishing, who love crowdfunding: “For us, crowdfunding is an integral part of the business model, especially for a game like Game of the Year. We simply cannot manage the realization of the project without this form of financing. "

That is a clear strength of crowdfunding: Original ideas and small developers get a real chance, says Simon Schwanhäußer. "It is all the more annoying when you then have to compete on Kickstarter with competitors for whom this is certainly not the case and who are ultimately measured by the same standards."

Many popular game genres are available to board gamers to turn their creation into a masterpiece. Image: Nice Game

Many popular game genres are available to board gamers to turn their creation into a masterpiece. Image: Nice Game

Another weak point is often called superficiality. "Visual design, beautiful minis and so on seem to count more than content," explains the CEO. “That's certainly true, somewhere. On the other hand, I keep thinking: There is no other way. How else should people orientate themselves? Therefore it is very important for us to try to work graphically well and to have a good presentation, even if we are not interested in making games with minis, for example. "

The funding amount is not yet final, but Simon Schwanhäußer is currently counting an amount somewhere between ten and twenty thousand euros for the campaign Game of the Year is expected to start on June 28th.

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Last updated on 20.08.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API