Tuesday, 26 June 2007

ZOOBILEE ZOO Board Game Wins Spiel Des Jahres!


Looks like we have another "family game" taking home the prize for this year's SDJ! Cue the "Price is Right" loser music for all those "gamer's games" like PILLARS OF THE EARTH and ARKADIA...once again SDJ demonstrates how firmly its finger is on the pulse of gaming.

Congratulations lion guy and pig lady!

48 comments:

Pat H said...

This is a joke right?

bill abner said...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/27588

Anonymous said...

Only those ACTIVELY watching and speculating about the nominees/results of SDJ deserve the derision. The people running the SDJ are European, they are goofballs anyway. Some of their adult males think wearing bright purple pants is OK.

Jack Hill said...

I have played the game (of course.) It is mostly just like Coloretto, but three times as long and with all of the fun sucked out.

We were robbed.

Clarissimus said...

I watched this show as a young child. I must've been very young ( < 5 years?) because I can't remember a lick of what it was about.

Hancock.Tom said...

I had to look this up, thinking ha ha ha another piece of biting satire...



then I saw it was fucking true.

Michael Barnes said...

because I can't remember a lick of what it was about.

Wow, Clarissimus...you're like, psychic or something. This is what people will be saying in a year about ZOOLORETTO.

notbillysparkles said...

Wow...

The thing is actually "for ages 8 and up."

... fuck me.

Russ Fade said...

But there's a panda on the cover.

My house is infested with pandas. It's the cutest infestation ever. It beats cockroaches. When I turn on the light, a bunch of pandas scatter and run for cover. I want to hold one of them. Why do pandas have to be so far away from me? I want to pat one on the head and feed it a bamboo stick. Please ship one over and I will apprehend it.

Pat H said...

Kinda makes you wonder why "Milch und Gherken" wasn't entered...

Michael Barnes said...

While Mr. Skeletor isn't looking...

I love animals. I love panda bears. I even love penguins. I'd rather hang out with animals than people. I don't eat them, wear them, ride them, or use them for labor.

But animals, along with food, are just about the worst theme material for games I can imagine!

Unless we're talking GAMMARAUDERS...

Michael Barnes said...

Kinda makes you wonder why "Milch und Gherken" wasn't entered...

Our engineers are still running probability tests and balancing algorithms to ensure the game has Maximum Euro-Style Gameplay (TM). It will be ready for Essen and competition in next year's SDJ.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Michael Barnes said...

Unless we're talking GAMMARAUDERS...


ANOTHER game in my 'unplayed looking for opponents' pile ... quit upsetting me.

Rliyen said...

But animals, along with food, are just about the worst theme material for games I can imagine!

Unless we're talking GAMMARAUDERS...


Ahhh, yes. Nothing beats it. Giant Sized Gorilla, Turtle, Vulture, Penguin with gun(s) = good. FOWLOTEs for Great Justice!

And what about the love for Monsters Ravage and/or Menace America??

Mr Skeletor said...

When I first saw the title I thought it read ZOMBIE ZOO.
Now that would have been a winner!

Michael Barnes said...

And what about the love for Monsters Ravage and/or Menace America??

Giant lobster man punches giant eyeball.

That is true love, Ameritrash style.

Hell, maybe we should make MMA AT's SDJ '07 pick...who cares if it's a couple of years old?

MWChapel said...

eeek. I saw that picture and thought watch out for Dr. Moreau! Think they've spent a little too much time in "The House of Pain".

There is no pain, there is no law!

Juniper said...

Honest admission time: I don't always understand what this blog is about.

Just a couple of days ago, a F:AT columnist was criticizing the German game genre for its inability to attract young people to the boardgaming hobby. Today, the same columnist is criticizing the SdJ jury for selecting a game that is accessible and appealing to young people.

Judging from the performance of some past SdJ honorees, it seems likely that more than 100,000 copies of Zooloretto will be sold worldwide by Christmas. Some of those copies will be played by young people, right?

Now, if the SdJ jury had selected one of the "gamers' games" that the seers on BGG had predicted they would select, then said jury would deserve swift kicks in the bausacks, but I think they got it right.

One fallacy that both BGG and F:AT perpetuate is the BGG is in any way representative of the market for German games. If you go to one of the massive department stores in downtown Berlin, you won't see joyless crap like Age of Steam or Caylus -- the games that are the toast of BGG -- but you will see assloads of the sorts of German games that are actually fun and colourful, like Niagara and Manila and Ubongo.

Shellhead said...

Assloads of Ubongo sounds uniquely painful.

Juniper said...

Assloads of Ubongo sounds uniquely painful.

Remember, I'm talking about what constitutes entertainment in Germany -- the culture that invented the word schadenfreude.

Ken B. said...

DEATH BY UBONGO~!

Michael Barnes said...

Today, the same columnist is criticizing the SdJ jury for selecting a game that is accessible and appealing to young people.

Ah, I knew Juniper would take the bait...and don't think I didn't understand my own devastasting irony. Har har.

I'm not criticizing the SDJ jury- they're industry folks who likely live in a bubble and really don't have a street sense of what's going on in the hobby but nonetheless, they do what they do and it really has little effect outside of a short-term spike in sales mostly in Germany. It's an award for family games despite all the "Oh, PILLARS OF THE EARTH is the clear front runner" speculation of online pundits...I find it funny that every year, at least since PUERTO RICO lost to a JENGA clone, that kids' games beat out the big, celebrated "Gamers' games". It really kind of shows how the online community inflates the apparent appeal and marketplace for the so-called hardcore Eurogames.

What I _am_ making fun of is this idea that a lot of gamers still have that the SDJ is some kind of "important" barometer of what's great in gaming...it's irrelevant, particularly in the US where a relative handful of people even know what the award is, let alone that there's any kind of "awards" for board games. But if they're going to be there, then they ought to signify something important other than "this was the cutest game released this year", which is what they've done for years now.

Now, I'm sure ZOOLORETTO has some appeal for 8 year olds who have the patience and attention span to manage the rules and that's great that there's a game out there for budding young zookeepers...I don't criticize that.

However, is ZOOLORETTO going to inspire passion, geekly love, and commitment to the hobby the way the games we played as kids did- A&A, CIV, D&D? Will a kid play ZOOLORETTO and then move on to bigger and better things because he wants more out of it than ZOOLORETTO affords? Maybe so...I'd hope so. But games like ZOOLORETTO and CANDYLAND are outgrown and forgotten. And the fact of the matter is, particularly in the US, ZOOLORETTO is going to be mostly played by the typical middle aged Eurogamer- not by kids. Do you think that the Anonymous poster who let us know that he was 16 and played TI:3 every sunday is going to show up at his game night with something with a giant Panda bear on the front of it? Hell no.

Ken B. said...

ZOOLORETTO is going to be mostly played by the typical middle aged Eurogamer- not by kids.



I thought the statement was pretty clear, honestly...

Middle-aged gamers "steal" gaming for themselves, refuse to play with children, yet celebrate an award (SdJ) that often rewards childish, more simple designs.


End result? You get grown men in ragged khaki shorts and white t-shirts with some clever saying on them staring intensely at a game of Niagra or Loopin' Louie in between glaring glances at children that happen to wander too closely nearby.

The irony's here, just not where you think it is.

hughthehand said...

My house is infested with pandas. It's the cutest infestation ever.

I laughed my ass off when I read this. Good to see another fan of Hedberg fan.

Other than that...what kind of ticks me off about this game winning (even though I've never played it), is that from what I've read here and bgg it is a kind of extension of Coloretto. So really this is not a new game at all...complete bullshit.

Juniper said...

I'm not criticizing the SDJ jury- they're industry folks who likely live in a bubble and really don't have a street sense of what's going on in the hobby but nonetheless, they do what they do and it really has little effect outside of a short-term spike in sales mostly in Germany.

I think that your characterization of the SdJ jury is incorrect. They represent the mass market. They don't give a shit about "the hobby" because they are not interested in serving hobbyists. They're getting normal Germans who haven't read The Silmarillion or memorized the Klingon translation of The Life of Brian to buy these games for their families. Describing the economic effect of the SdJ as a "short-term spike" is disingenuous. A winner can expect to sell at least 100,000 copies, instead of just a few thousand, and follow-on sales of a spinoff or expansion set are pretty much guaranteed. Furthermore, it helps publishers to position the rest of their product line in retail stores, and (I'm speculating now) probably gives them scale of economy advantages when dealing with suppliers and distributors. Would BattleLore have been published if Ticket to Ride had never existed?

I agree that the SdJ has very little effect on sales elsewhere, but you're underestimating its effect in Germany. The effect is huge, and that only confirms that the SdJ jury know exactly what they are doing. You seem to think that the industry can promote the hobby to young people by making games that appeal only to girls who wear black nail polish and boys that burn down churches and LARP in sewer tunnels. In what fucked-up world is that the mass market?

And the fact of the matter is, particularly in the US, ZOOLORETTO is going to be mostly played by the typical middle aged Eurogamer- not by kids.

You call this a fact, but I see no evidence of it except for the fun-house mirror of distortion that you see on BGG. Rio Grande's best-selling games are not Power Grid and Caylus. They're the Carcassonne series and Bohnanza and Cartagena and Ricochet Robots. You wouldn't think so if your world view was formed by BGG, but these games are selling, and people are playing them. With whom? Their kids, I'm guessing.

The strawmen on BGG don't represent anybody except themselves. The people that post prolifically are only a tiny subgroup of the people that have accounts and use the site regularly, and the people that have accounts are only a tiny proportion of the population of BGG users. You shouldn't assume that the existence of a few dozen obese men on BGG -- each of whom has added Busen Memo to random geeklists more times than he has kissed a woman -- implies anything about the eventual audience for the US edition of Zooloretto.

Michael Barnes said...

Juniper, they really need to draft you into the Eurosnoot Army or something as an information minister...you're just about the only person on that "side" that knows how to put up a good fight. Except maybe Chapel and his pal Eric.

I think that your characterization of the SdJ jury is incorrect. They represent the mass market.

Absolutely true! But they represent the mass market in Germany. Which means nothing outside of Germany. And shouldn't mean anything to Joe Gamer in the US.

Describing the economic effect of the SdJ as a "short-term spike" is disingenuous.

True...the SDJ expansion is pretty much a given, and I'm sure that games with the SDJ win have a little more shelf life on German shelves.


Furthermore, it helps publishers to position the rest of their product line in retail stores, and (I'm speculating now) probably gives them scale of economy advantages when dealing with suppliers and distributors.

Would BattleLore have been published if Ticket to Ride had never existed?

So if I go back in time and prevent the publication of TICKET TO RIDE, I can stop BATTLELORE from ever coming out? Nonsense...Borg had designs on doing a fantasy C&C:A long before DoW realized that they needed to get into the fantasy genre with a tentpole brand they could use to sell expansion after expansion.

I agree that the SdJ has very little effect on sales elsewhere, but you're underestimating its effect in Germany.

Oh no, I do understand it...it's a pretty big deal there. I've also heard that it causes big problems in retail because discount stores will sell the current SDJ winner as a loss-leader product (sometimes below wholesale) and the result is SCADS of copies in circulation...many that wind up going unsold when supply outstrips demand.

You seem to think that the industry can promote the hobby to young people by making games that appeal only to girls who wear black nail polish and boys that burn down churches

Don't make fun of my childhood.

and LARP in sewer tunnels.

Alright, I'll make fun of that with you. Lightning bolt!

In what fucked-up world is that the mass market?

It's not, nor should it be. It does take a certain kind of person to be into games beyond a "normal" level...board games won't ever be mainstream, nor should they probably be...yet I do believe that there's a lot of people out there, a lot of young folks who may in fact wear black nail polish, who would likely form a larger consumer base and get a lot out of games.

I am _not_ one of those people who believe that sticking SETTLERS in front of everyone I know is somehow going to create a gaming revolution in the US, BTW...but I do think that there's the potential for a larger market that the hobby industry ignores.

And the fact of the matter is, particularly in the US, ZOOLORETTO is going to be mostly played by the typical middle aged Eurogamer- not by kids.

You call this a fact, but I see no evidence of it except for the fun-house mirror of distortion that you see on BGG.


Oh Juniper, bullshit...you KNOW it's true. Is it a hard, empirical fact? No. But it is true, because that is the demonstrated audience and market for anything with a Rio Grande logo on the box.

Rio Grande's best-selling games are not Power Grid and Caylus.

CARCASSONNE is pretty much RGG's bread and butter...and actually, PUERTO RICO is one of the top sellers. CAYLUS sold like gangbusters at first, but now...I'd probably have trouble selling it at 50% off.

The strawmen on BGG don't represent anybody except themselves.

Absolutely agree- but BGG is the primary source of discourse, communication, and community on the internet and I think it does serve as a barometer of trends, ideas, and commonalities. Is it comprehensive or complete? Hell no. I know plenty of extremely hardcore gamers who NEVER look at anything on BGG.

I just chipped my nail polish...back in minute...

Juniper said...

you're just about the only person on that "side" that knows how to put up a good fight.

Thanks, but I hadn't realized that I'd joined a side. The games that I most want to play these days are Columbia block games. I do like Loopin' Louie, though. And Villa Paletti was a brilliant choice for SdJ, IMO.

Borg had designs on doing a fantasy C&C:A long before DoW realized that they needed to get into the fantasy genre with a tentpole brand they could use to sell expansion after expansion.

Yeah, but how was Borg planning to finance the up-front expenses associated with the creation of ten zillion injection molds? What I'm claiming (without any actual knowledge to confirm it) is that the considerable costs of tooling up to manufacture BattleLore were covered by the Ticket to Ride windfall.

Oh Juniper, bullshit...you KNOW it's true. Is it a hard, empirical fact? No. But it is true, because that is the demonstrated audience and market for anything with a Rio Grande logo on the box.

It's true because it's true? Not a compelling argument. I have two kinds of customers; those whose purchases reflect the current rage on BGG, and "normals" who buy (among RGG titles) Carcassonne + expansions, TransAmerica, Lost Cities, San Juan or Puerto Rico, and Bohnanza, and then decide that they have enough games for one lifetime. The latter kind of customer represents the closest thing to a mass market that exists in hobby boardgames right now. These are the same people that would buy and appreciate Zooloretto.

Michael Barnes said...

Ah- you're in retail and you like Columbia Games...That gives us some common ground even if we're going to re-enact OVER THE TOP here on F:AT. We've got to get together and play a round of ROMMEL IN THE DESERT sometime.

I agree with you about the "casual"/non-fanatic gamer...they'll buy the few titles you mentioned and be done. Which is good, and I'm glad to see games reach even that level of "mainstream" penetration but those purchases don't drive the industry. It's the people who are in tune with the BGG "rage" games, who buy all the expansions, and keep coming back for more.

But that doesn't foreclose on the truth of the matter, that ZOOLORETTO is going to be in the hands of a lot more adults than children in the US.

Juniper said...

We've got to get together and play a round of ROMMEL IN THE DESERT sometime.

I suppose I'd be up for that eventually, but first I'll have to find it in me to forgive you for getting the whistling riff from Young Folks stuck in my head.

I agree with you about the "casual"/non-fanatic gamer...they'll buy the few titles you mentioned and be done. Which is good, and I'm glad to see games reach even that level of "mainstream" penetration but those purchases don't drive the industry. It's the people who are in tune with the BGG "rage" games, who buy all the expansions, and keep coming back for more.

Well, they're the ones that allow Rio Grande to publish dozens of new titles every year, because they ensure that a print run of 3000 units of even the most marginal title will sell out. It's them that we have to thank for the existence of Where's Bob's Hat? and Submarine. I've sold cases and cases of TransAmerica/TransEuropa, and I'd rather have one more game like that to sell than dozens of games like Palazzo and Louis XIV. I suppose that it's hard to tell until the intial print run is available, though, which game will be the next Carcassonne.

But that doesn't foreclose on the truth of the matter, that ZOOLORETTO is going to be in the hands of a lot more adults than children in the US.

Maybe the first 3000 copies will sell to the usual mob, but I'm hopeful that the game could break through to the "normals" and become one of the few titles (like Carcassonne, Cartagena, and Ticket to Ride) that will be played and appreciated by people that don't live on BGG and don't realize or care that the game was originally published in German. I confess my ignorance here, though, because I haven't played it.

ubarose said...

I gotta' support Juniper on this. Winning the SDJ means the game is going to get a blurb in magazines like "Parents" and "Working Mother." It will be carried and displayed prominently in high end "Educational" toy stores. The kind of stores that carry Brio and Playmobile. Other games by the same publisher will get a gold sticker slapped on them that say, "From the publisher of the 2007 SDJ." The SDJ has snob appeal with U.S. parents. The niche hobby market is negligible compared to the family market.

Michael Barnes said...

Huh...interesting perspective, Uba...I didn't realize that SDJ got notices in parenting rags like that. Notices like that move games like crazy, I'll tell you that every year at christmas those stupid "Board Games for Christmas!" articles bring in all kinds of people out of the wood work. A couple of years ago, one of my business partners (the BAD one) ordered 10 copies of BUY WORD for some unknown reason. Which sat on the shelf for almost two years. I had them on a clearance table for $5 and no one would buy them. Then, one of those christmas lists came out with it on there, and I literally had 30+ people coming in asking for it.

I'll have to find it in me to forgive you for getting the whistling riff from Young Folks stuck in my head.

Glad someone noticed...that's an awesome pop song, too bad they blew their whole load on that one song and failed to come up with a descent album to put it on.

I've sold cases and cases of TransAmerica/TransEuropa, and I'd rather have one more game like that to sell than dozens of games like Palazzo and Louis XIV.

Yeah, what the hell is it with TRANSAMERICA? After SETTLERS and the FFG stuff, that's my top-selling game- I always have someone asking for 2, 3, 4 copies at a time. I hate it, of course, but I do see that it has a broad appeal that casual gamers can appreciate...but damn, TICKET TO RIDE isn't _that_ much more complex!

It's funny that you mention SUBMARINE and the "lower tier" RGG games...back when I started doing retail, I figured anything RGG would sell...boy was I for a shock. I started doing business direct with them and I had to get cases of games versus onesies and twosies...next thing you know, I've got 12 copies of SUBMARINE sitting on my shelf. I've gotten pretty good at knowing which RGG titles are going to do well and which are going to bust...RACE FOR THE GALAXY, now that's got blockbuster written all over it. LEMONS TO LEMONADE- nope.

Juniper said...

that's an awesome pop song, too bad they blew their whole load on that one song and failed to come up with a descent album to put it on.

It's actually too catchy. I used to like it, but now I just find it annoying because I can't ... get it ... out of my ... mind.

TransAmerica is the boardgame equivalent of a toxically catchy pop tune. It's quick and easy to get into, and when it's over you feel some voice inside you saying "ONE MORE TIME!" And like many pop tunes, it's best enjoyed in large numbers; TransAmerica is unusual because it works so well with six players in such a short time. Diamant would have been another TransAmerica if Rio Grande had imported it. The Incan Gold edition represents to me a lost opportunity.

Michael Barnes said...

some voice inside you saying "ONE MORE TIME!

Heh...just like that Daft Punk song...

Agreed on DIAMANT, another game I completely hate but had it recieved a proper release, it would have been a blockbuster...I can't fathom why Jay didn't pick it up. It's a real god damned shame that THROUGH THE AGES is going through Funagain...it's an awesome game, I'd love to sell it but I don't see giving my money to another retailer to stock it. Plus, given the production quality of INCAN GOLD, I don't have very high hopes for it.

BTW guys- how'd we get all serious? I poke fun at SDJ and all the sudden we're talking all this serious stuff about it...next time I'll post a crotch destruction joke and we can all laugh.

Ken B. said...

Crotch destruction is no laughing matter. Every year, hundreds of people suffer from Crotch Destruction Syndrome. Had it happened to a loved one, would you still be laughing?

Juniper said...

Too many have suffered in silence for too long. Learn the facts about CDS, and watch where you insert those Ubongos.

Michael Barnes said...

Had it happened to a loved one, would you still be laughing?

PLEASE, for the love of god, someone make a "viral" video of a FFG coffin-box game being thrown into some guy's crotch...

Pat H said...

CDS is truly horrible, I come here to forget about the toll CDS takes on families and the baggage (Oh the poor baggage)it leaves behind.

Now this,

If Mr. Skeletor had headbutted his lady friend (violence-check)avatar instead of rear ending her, would he have been suspended even though technically she was being boned?

Clarissimus said...

Yeah, what the hell is it with TRANSAMERICA? After SETTLERS and the FFG stuff, that's my top-selling game- I always have someone asking for 2, 3, 4 copies at a time. I hate it, of course, but I do see that it has a broad appeal that casual gamers can appreciate...but damn, TICKET TO RIDE isn't _that_ much more complex!

Yes, but TtR is boring and unthematic, and its only player interaction is coincidental.

Michael Barnes said...

Yeah, but with TRANSAMERICA the game is coincidental

Juniper said...

The other thing about TransAmerica is that it's based on a motion picture that deals frankly with (among other issues) Crotch Reconfiguration.

Mr Skeletor said...

Scorecards in:
Juniper 6
Barnes 2

Ladies and Gentlemen we have a new champion.

Now to a more important question: Do I go play games tonight or go watch Transformers?

Michael Barnes said...

Juniper's a tough cookie, that's why I like the son of a bitch. :-P

Transformers? Megatron ain't a gun. Optimus Prime has a flamejob. The Matrix is now the "sparkplug" or something like that. Soundwave is nowhere to be seen...waitaminute...a giant robot punches another giant robot? Alright, I'll cut it some slack...

Mr Skeletor said...


Transformers? Megatron ain't a gun. Optimus Prime has a flamejob.


Who cares. A fighter jet turns into a robot midair and smacks out another fighter jet. That's enough to get my ass in a seat.

Pat H said...

Does anyone else think that Udo Dirkschneider is actually Cobra Commander?

Michael Barnes said...

Ha ha ha! No, but I do now!

mtlawson said...

Ubarose, maybe the high end educational toy stores out by you, but here in Cincy the only place you're going to find a SdJ winner is at one of the legit game stores. Being the parent of three, we frequent a lot of the niche non-TRU/non-Walmart toy stores, but I've yet to Thurn and Taxis in anyplace other than the boardgame stores. Zooloretto might show up, but that's because it's got that cute zookeeper theme.

--Mike L.

ubarose said...

Mike,

Actually, now that you mention it, THURN & TAXIS, hasn't shown up in the toy stores around here either. In the past year, I've seen Niagara, Elfenland, Ticket to Ride, Villa Paletti, Alhambra, Torres, Carcassone, and, of course, Settlers. Hmmm, I don't recall seeing Tikal either. I think that you are correct that theme with kid/family appeal is also a factor.

Many of the Mensa Select games are also in the stores around here. Mensa Select Games are much sought after by "good parents" who believe that playing them will make their children smarter. If your children don't play Mensa Select games when they are young, they will end up attending a state university *gasp*, piercing their noses, and dating drummers.

mtlawson said...

Hah. I really don't care what university they go to as long as they get a scholarship; that'll be the only way they'll avoid living at home and commuting to school.

--Mike L.