Players’ urge for freedom
We hear from retailers all around the world that players’ urge for freedom is currently making the cash registers ring. “Escape room” games are in great demand. The aim here is to work together to free a group from a locked room or to solve a task together. To do this, clues have to be correctly interpreted and puzzles and tasks solved. In almost every large city, there are rooms that allow people to enjoy these challenges in real life. Board games, however, simulate them very successfully for the home environment.
In 2022, Noris-Spiele (Simba-Dickie-Group; idea and design: Identity Games International BV) brings an adventurous expansion to basic parlour games with its “Escape Room – Das Spiel Atlantis” (Escape Room – the Atlantis Game). Two to five players aged 16 and over try to reach the lost city of Atlantis before a competing team of explorers gets there.
All paths lead to Rome
Licences are also playing an increasingly important role in this product group. Asmodee, for example, uses the popular world of Asterix and Obelix in its new game called “Cäsars Imperium” (Caesar's Empire). Literally all roads lead to Rome. In this fast-paced family game, players compete to establish links between Rome and other cities and to profit from trade. (Asmodee)
Games can bring the generations together. The Silway brand from Slovenia specialises in doing just that – building bridges between children, young people and the older generation. The aim of “Bonding Bingo” is for the various generations to share stories, experiences and emotions. The game is supported by a design that appeals to both children and adults.
Hasbro makes the classic game of Monopoly interesting for younger target groups. “My First Monopoly” offers the whole family fun as well as a learning experience through play. The double-sided game board offers two levels of play for children between 4 and 5 years (counting and matching) or children as of the age of 6 (reading development and simple arithmetic).
300 hits from the last hundred years
With party games, on the other hand, the focus is clearly on fun. The card game “Hitster” takes players on a journey into the past with 300 hits from the last hundred years. The DJ scans a music card with the free app and the players take turns guessing when the songs were released, the name of the artist and the song title.
The free app automatically plays songs on Spotify, the world’s most widely used music streaming service, but they can also be played with any other music streaming service.
Games Go Green
The “Toys go Green” megatrend is also reflected in this product group. “DKT –The Climate Neutral Element” by Piatnik from Vienna uses the concept behind DKT (a board game similar to Monopoly and dating back to 1936, one of Austria’s most popular board games). Normally, assets are created through the skilful buying and selling of land, houses, hotels and entire companies. Only this time, the game is all about preserving nature reserves, planting forests and trees, and replacing fossil power plants with renewable sources of energy.
Ravensburger picks up on this topic for its youngest players. “Mein Garten” (My Garden) from the “Spielend Erstes Lernen” (Playful First Learning) series is aimed at toddlers from the age of 18 months. The game raises their awareness of the animals and plants in their environment. While handling daisies, earthworms and moles, they get to know the inhabitants of the natural world in their natural habitat.
The Spanish games publisher JUGUETES CAYRO, S.L. is also picking up on this trend. “Rubbish Race” is a board game that teaches people how to recycle in a fun way. The entertaining game with simple mechanisms is made of wood as well as recycled paper and cardboard.
Games don’t need boards and cards to fascinate players. “Bubble Trouble” by Pegasus Spiele is a fun cooperative game of skill that’s played on the floor. It is particularly exciting when there’s a time limit. Everyone plays together and tries to bring as many sea creatures as possible back to the reef and save them from the shark. To do this, the bubbles must be skilfully thrown from the reef so that they land on the animals. All the animals hit in this way move one step towards the reef. All the animals that aren’t hit continue to swim towards the shark.
The future of Camelot is in the hands of the players. To finally succeed this time, King Arthur and Merlin the magician have forged a bold plan: knights and mages have to work together to finally get to the bottom of the greatest secret: the Holy Grail. Several retinues are sent out in “Die Zukunft von Camelot” (The Future of Camelot). They have to overcome challenges and uncover secrets in the countryside as well as at Camelot.
Jigsaw puzzle: Lost Places – fascinating, eerie, ephemeral
From the huge number of new jigsaw puzzle releases, we’d like to single out the new “Lost Places” series from Ravensburger. Crumbling façades, broken windows and a long-extinct interior: Lost Places are abandoned places and crumbling buildings that have fallen into oblivion – and yet still exert a magical attraction on many people. The new 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles from Ravensburger show once magnificent buildings that, today, seem fascinating, eerie and ephemeral.
Books: entertain, learn and play
“Listen to what you see” is the motto of Ravensburger’s in-house creation and product innovation "SAMi". The focus is on SAMi, the reading bear, with which children can independently immerse themselves in the world of picture books thanks to an innovative listening and book experience. Simply plugged into the book, the polar bear reads the story to them while they flip through the book and look at the illustrations. SAMi can recognise precisely which page the little ones are on.
With a new generation of tiptoi, Ravensburger will be sending even two-year-olds on a voyage of discovery as of autumn 2022. Children will then be able to use the pen intuitively to dive into books and games. The radio plays, stories, dialogues and songs are designed to form a holistic world. The new tiptoi sensitively draws children from two to ten years of age to it and interactively invites them to play and learn.
Czech company ALBI CZECH REPUBLIC also makes use of similar technology with “Tolki Pen + Book Animal Kingdoms”. The talking pen and book guide readers thematically through eight different habitats on our planet, such as forests, savannahs, deserts and seas. On each page, they learn which animals live in which environment, what they are called, what sounds they make and what makes them interesting. Afterwards, they can test their knowledge with quiz questions.
Books Go Green
One could say, figuratively speaking, that “books are now going green”. “Was lebt oben? Was lebt unten? Entdecke die geheimnisvollen Welten“ (What lives above ground? What lives below ground? Discover the mysterious worlds) from the Magellan publishing company takes children from the age of 5 on a journey through different habitats. As unique as the habitats are so are the animals that live in them. The world map at the beginning makes it easier to locate the individual habitats geographically.
The ghost Hui Buh by Dirk Ahner continues to be funny and scary in the book “Hui Buh und das Hexenschloss. Das Buch zum Kinofilm” (Hui Buh and the Witch’s Castle: The Book based on the Motion Picture). Hui Buh is still the only officially licensed ghost of Burgeck, and his amateurish attempts to scare King Julius are a real pain in the neck. Then the witch Ophelia enters the stage with her most powerful, evil and cunning spell book.
Experiments with artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is on everyone’s lips right now. Its pros and cons are the subject of lively discussion. Publishing company KOSMOS, which is celebrating “100 years of KOSMOS experimental kits” this year, presents its experimental kit entitled “Miika K.I. – Künstliche Intelligenz erleben“ (Miika A.I. – Experience Artificial Intelligence). Robot Miika can be controlled by gestures or audio commands. Children from the age of 10 can teach the robot independently which command causes which action.