Dau Barcelona 2021 Awards

Trofeu Dau

The Dau Barcelona Awards are divided into three categories which aim to reward game authors and other individuals whose activities help to improve the board games sector.

“A life dedicated to games” Award

This honorific award is presented every year to an individual who has made games the centre of their life, whether for academic, informative, creative or commercial purposes.

It is awarded by the winners from the previous two editions of the Dau Barcelona Awards in the same category.

The winners of the 'A LIFE DEDICATED TO GAMES' Award in 2019 and 2020, Philip E. Orbanes and Thierry Depaulis, have proposed Bruce Whitehill as the winner of the 2021 Award, for a life dedicated to studying the history of card games.

“Best author of the year” Award

Award presented each year to the author with the most outstanding board game creation from the previous year.

It is awarded by the winners of the previous three editions of the Dau Barcelona Awards, in the categories of “Best author of the year” and “Best new author of the year”: Wolfgang Warsch, Eloi Pujadas and Joaquim Vilalta, Phil Walker-Harding, Elizabeth Hargrave, Thomas Sing and Ondra Skoupy. They have decided to award the "BEST AUTHOR OF THE YEAR AWARD” 2021 to Johannes Sich, for the quality of his games published in 2021, especially MicroMacro, with which he has managed to create a game that attracts and inspires many players, because it is very easy to understand and yet it contains a lot of innovations.

“Best new author of the year” Award

Award given to the most outstanding author who has published their first board game during the year before each edition of the Dau Barcelona Awards.

It is awarded by a jury made up of Spanish bloggers, YouTubers and twichters specialising in games: Andrés Delgado & Lorena Torres, Lorena Garcés, Fran Gómez, Marcel Lucas, David Pérez and Javier Rodríguez. They have decided to award the "BEST NOVEL AUTHOR OF THE YEAR AWARD” 2021 to Elwen and Mín, for their first game published in 2021 The Lost Ruins of Arnak, in which they have created original concepts from well-known mechanics, which make the game gains depth in each game and interests all types of players.


You can watch the Awards' ceremony here.

Rules of the Dau Barcelona Awards (in Catalan)


Thierry Depaulis

Thierry Depaulis


By Thierry Depaulis

Two months ago, Oriol Comas gave us – Philip E. Orbanes (winner of the 2019 Award) and myself – the order to select our successor. This is an absolute rule of the Festival Dau Barcelona that the last two winners of the Special Award ‘A Life devoted to Games’ have to choose the next winner. A few hours later I received a message from Phil: instead of a long list of candidates, his suggestion was about one name. An obvious one. So obvious that I was sure he had already received the prize. But Oriol told me he hadn’t. So Phil’s choice became mine immediately. (Great minds think alike.) I have the immense pleasure to introduce our colleague and friend and new ‘A Life devoted to Games’ Special Award recipient: Bruce Whitehill.

Βruce is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on American games and their history. Born in New York in 1946, Bruce grew up on Long Island. He started doing research on a few games he loved, like Scrabble, in the late 1970s and then began collecting in the early 1980s. After graduating in psychology at Washington University in St. Louis then at San Francisco State University, he was hired as Product Developer for the famous firm Milton Bradley (MB), in Springfield, Massachusetts. He worked there from 1982 to 1984, and then decided to become independent, working as a freelance writer and game inventor, as well as a consultant to the toy and game industry. In doing so Bruce became “The Big Game Hunter” – a pun that is understandable only in English.

In 1985 Bruce Whitehill founded the American Game Collectors Association (AGCA), whose name was changed to the Association for Games & Puzzles International (AGPI) in 1999, to better reflect the broadened scope of its mission and its international nature. He also wrote many articles for various magazines dealing with games, and was a senior editor of Games, Games, Games and Games Annual, as well as Knucklebones, to name just a few. He wrote a chapter on the game of “Careers” in the book Family Games: The 100 Best, edited by James Lowder (Green Ronin Publishing), and writes periodically for the German magazine spielbox.

As a historian, Bruce’s achievements are remarkable. His book, Games: American Games and Their Makers, 1822-1992, published by Chilton Books in 1992, is the most authoritative work on the history of American games and game companies. From 1999, Bruce Whitehill participated in the annual Board Game Studies colloquia – international conferences for the study of board games – and presented important papers, including as “American Games: a historical perspective” (published in Board Game Studies, 2, 1999), and “Halma and Chinese Checkers: origins and variations” (in Step by Step, the proceedings of the 2001 colloquium at Fribourg, Switzerland); in May 2004, Bruce was the organizer of the VIIth Board Game Studies colloquium which was held in Philadelphia, in the United States.

In the same year, Bruce collaborated with the Swiss Museum of Games (Musée Suisse du Jeu) in La Tour-de-Peilz for an exhibition, using games from his collection; to accompany the exhibition, he wrote a a book– published in three languages, French, English, and German – entitled Americanopoly: L’Amérique au travers de ses jeux / America as seen through its games / Amerika im Spiegel seiner Spiele. Around the same time, the re-election of President George W. Bush, a candidate who was not Bruce’s ideal president, to say the least, encouraged him to relocate to Europe, and in particular, Germany, where he had found love. In 2007 he married Sybille, who is not only his wife but also a competent collaborator, as well as a collector, historian and serious player in her own right. They are now living in Eickeloh, a small village in the Lower Saxony countryside, not far from Hanover.

In 2007, Bruce contributed a chapter for the important book (in French, with a German version), Jeux de l'humanité : 5000 ans d'histoire culturelle des jeux de société published by the Swiss Museum of Games under the editorship of Ulrich Schädler. In 2008 Bruce was one of the ten invited speakers to the XIth Board Game Studies colloquium which was held in Lisbon. His paper “Toward a classification of non-electronic table games” was published in the proceedings that followed in 2009. And in 2010 I had the pleasure to welcome a further lecture when we organised the same colloquium in Paris: Bruce’s paper was entitled “The Checkered Game of Life: Milton Bradley’s first game, 1860”. It was included in the electronic proceedings I edited in 2012.

In 2019, a new book, Tortured Cardboard: How great board games arise from chaos, survive by chance, impart wisdom, and gain immortality was published by Philip Orbanes “with the Games Gnome” (Permuted Press), that is, Bruce himself. “The Big Game Hunter” has sowed parts of his large collection of American games in various institutions, like the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York, the Strong Museum, Rochester, New York, at the Deutsches Spielemuseum in Chemnitz, Germany, and the Swiss Museum of Games, already mentioned, while some 6,000 of those games were acquired by the Centre National du Jeu, in Boulogne-Billancourt (they are now housed by the Sorbonne Paris-Nord University at Villetaneuse). Bruce is also an accomplished game inventor. His board games include “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, “Centipede”, one of the first board games to be adapted from a video game, “Change Horses”, the “Know It All Edition” of “Trivial Pursuit”,“Talat”, “Fuse”, and “Outback Crossing”; his “Underwood Cellars” was just released in Essen in a German edition, “Der Tote im Weinkeller” (from Kosmos). His series of mystery jigsaw puzzles has been very successful. He has about six games and puzzles still on the market in Europe and the U.S. right now, with two more due out later this year, “Mile High Murder” and the “Clue Mystery Jigsaw Puzzle” (both from University Games).

Bruce, Welcome!

Bruce Whitehill

Bruce Whitehill


Dau Barcelona Special Award for a Life of Games, acceptance speech, by Bruce Whitehill

Gracias, Thierry. Buenas tardes. Es un placer estar aquí. Por favor, discúlpenme, pero sólo hablo un poco de español y, lamento decirlo, no hablo nada de catalán. Así que creo que es mejor que les hable en inglés... inglés americano, porque soy originario de Estados Unidos. And there may be people in the audience who don’t speak Spanish, and are not sure what I just said. I’m not completely sure, either.

Anyway, two recent speakers here, Irving Finkel and Thierry Depaulis, both have a wealth of knowledge about very early game history. They travel the world, and Irving, for one, turns ancient rocks over just to see if there are any games etched into the stone on the other side. I travel, too, and I admit, I took photographs of such stones that were luckily already right-side up when I was in Turkey. These games originated 1000 to 5000 years ago! Now all of that is really interesting, but, remember, I’m an American, and our history is only about 250 years old (not including the vast contributions of the Native Americans). 250 years. Some of you here probably know the names of relatives older than that. So I developed a more modern interest: I want to know about the games that were supposed to be so good that they were put into boxes to be sold to as many people as possible. Who invented these games? Who published them? Why? And what else was going on in society at the time?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I first want to thank Dau Barcelona for the award they have bestowed upon me. After working most of my adult life in games, I am truly honored to be awarded for a Life of Games. It was difficult for me to decide which Life I should talk about in this brief presentation: my life as a historian? As an inventor? Or an author? As a player?

One key word that ties all those Lives together is: CURIOSITY. Curiosity about what makes a game good, curiosity about why people collect games they don’t even play, or why this game is more popular as a collectible than that one; curiosity about why a game happened to appear at the time that it did. And, as an inventor, curiosity about what you can do with a game idea to make other people want to play it as a finished game.

I’m curious: How many people here still play “Monopoly”? Why do so many people play “Monopoly,” the most popular game in the U.S., even though it has so many things wrong with it—don’t get me started—and there are oh so many better games out there to play? You know, Parker Brothers bought the game in 1933, but not from the original inventor; she invented the game in 1904. But that’s another story.

I was curious where Chinese Checkers came from. Actually, I still am. I met with the person who knew the American story at his home in Florida, but he wouldn’t tell me much—he wanted to save the story for the book he was going to write. Then he died, and, according to his daughter, left no manuscript behind. What I do know is the great classic American game of Chinese Checkers began in Germany—in 1890, if not earlier—as “Halma,” which had a variation called “Stern-Halma” (Star Halma) on the back, in the shape of a six-pointed star.

I am curious why an American company by the name of E.I. Horsman, in 1895 published “Trilby,” a game based on a novel by a French cartoonist and writer who lived in England, George Du Maurier.

Would you like a free game? I’m curious about why a coffee company, Lion Coffee, decided to give away free games with their product right around 1900, making it one of the first premiums in the game industry. They advertised, quote, “The children play them all day long, and the grown folks in the evening.” At that time, games were not just for children!

Games reflect what’s going on in the world. Take “The Vanderbilt Cup Race” that came out around 1906. It was not just a race game—it was based on the actual Vanderbilt Cup Race on Long Island, which, curiously enough, was cancelled after a few years because too many onlookers were killed.

My curiosity about what was behind a game that came out in 1907 titled “Teddy's Bear Hunt” led me to the story about Teddy Roosevelt, who, while hunting bears, spared the life of a cub, an act which made all the headlines. That was 1902. It took five years for the game to come out.

I wondered what was behind the release of a Milton Bradley game around 1910 called “Duck on the Rock,” a beautifully illustrated game showing a well-dressed duck—not the kind of dressing you use when you’re cooking, but elegant clothing with hat and cane—standing on a rock. “Anthropomorphism,” drawing animals with human clothing and characteristics, was popular at the time. It turns out that Duck of the Rock was the name of a game played outdoors by children, in which a small rock or tin can was placed on top of a boulder, and the object was to throw rocks at it to knock it off. Nothing in the boxed Bradley game told you its history—you just had to be curious enough to search for it.

Another game reflective of its time: “Admiral Byrd’s South Pole Game, Little America.” I knew about Byrd and his expeditions to the South Pole, and the naming of his base, “Little America.” What I didn’t know was that he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral just before Christmas in 1929; the Parker Brothers game, which helps you relive his adventures, came out in 1930, soon afterwards.

Jumping to the 1950s, I was curious how the career paths in a game such as “Careers” would not only change over time, but would be portrayed in different parts of the world. It’s a good way to see cultural differences and changes in a society. In the original “Careers,” you could have careers in uranium prospecting, going to sea, or exploring the moon. Later, after we actually got to the moon, you could go into space. While the earliest American version of “Careers” allowed players to vacation first in Florida, then later in Hawaii, Germans had their holiday in a mansion in the Swiss region of Tessin, then Majorca, then Hawaii, and eventually the South Seas; the Dutch went to the Riviera, and when that became old hat, later versions took players to the South Seas, where I guess they met the Germans. I don’t think “Careers” was published in Spain.

“Snakes and Ladders” is a game still played in Spain, but not much in the U.S. anymore because, I suspect, Americans don’t like snakes. My curiosity led me to discover that the game came from India, where the snake has high status in Hindu mythology. But America changed “Snakes and Ladders” to “Chutes and Ladders,” played by all children there, allowing them to climb the ladder of success or slide down the slide, necessitating retracing their steps.

I began this introduction by asking who plays “Monopoly.” Now, I’m curious about a game that I see is listed on Spanish internet sites. Who still plays “Ludo”? Aha, it’s the same ones who play “Monopoly.” “Ludo” is the British watered-down version of “Parcheesi,” the game everyone thinks comes from America, but it, too, actually originated in India, as “Pachisi.” “Pa-chi-si,” “Par-chee-zee.” It’s much easier when you see it written. “Ludo” is a game of pure luck, using dice, and I don’t know why anybody still plays it; if you play it with or for your kids, at least get them “Parcheesi.” The German equivalent is “Mensch ärgere dich nicht,” a name that for me is awful to pronounce. It means, “Man, don’t annoy yourself,” or “don’t get annoyed.” I was curious why many children in Germany still play the game, and then I married a German and that entitled me to an answer. In Germany, parents play the game—I won’t say the name again—in order for their children to learn how to lose! Think about that.

And on that note, I think I figured out which of my many Lives I should talk about tonight… Ah, but I’m out of time.

So, whatever your Lives are all about, just remember, the key to a full and rich and interesting life is…curiosity. Moltes gràcies.