History of the SAZ
In the early 1980s, the game scene in Germany fell into place. Certainly, the Spiel des Jahres jury that has been awarding its coveted prize (Game of the Year) since 1979, contributed to this. In 1982, the first game designers meeting, initiated by Karin and Reinhold Wittig, took place in Göttingen. Hajo Bücken, Max Kobbert, and Wolfgang Kramer were among the first attendees. In 1983, the first "Internationale Spieltage", organized by Friedhelm Merz, took place at the Essener Volkshochschule (Adult Education Center).
The SAZ was conceived in Graz: At a game festival in Graz, Austria, organized by Arno and Elfriede Hofer, game designers Hajo Bücken, Wolfgang Kramer, and Alex Randolph came together. They decided, over a glass of beer, to advance the formation of a game designers association. They could enlist for this idea Dirk Hanneforth, Max Kobbert, Johann Rüttinger, Karl-Heinz Schmiel, Klaus Teuber, and Detlef Wendt, among others.
The goals were pretty clear: representing game designers' interests, such as: naming the designers on the box covers, bringing more clarity to contracts with publishers, clarifying potential conflicts, making game designers better known as such, and committing to the cultural assets of games.
But what should the offspring be called ... "Vereinigung der Spieleautoren" ("Association of Game Designers") or "Spiele-Autoren-Verein" (Game Designers Club")?
The founding General Assembly that met on June 28, 1991, did not yet entirely agree upon the name. On a proposal from Karl-Heinz Schmiel, "Verein" ("Club") was replaced by "Zunft" ("Guild") in July since this term would better suit the voting rights regulation in the bylaws. This regulation already stipulated at that time that voting rights were granted only to those members who had published games. Not everybody was happy with "Zunft"; but finally, on November 11, 1991, it was entered into the register of associations in Göttingen as Spiele-Autoren-Zunft e.V.
Hajo Bücken was the initial first chairman in SAZ history, Klaus Teuber was the initial second chairman, and Dirk Hanneforth the initial treasurer.
Chronology of SAZ boards
|Period||1st Chairperson||2nd Chairperson||Treasurer|
|1991-1993||Hajo Bücken||Klaus Teuber||Dirk Haneforth|
|1993-1995||Wolfgang Riedesser||Karl-Heinz Schmiel||Niek Neuwahl|
|1995-1997||Wolfgang Kramer||Werner Falkhof||Harald Bilz|
|1997-1999||Niek Neuwahl||Werner Falkhof||Harald Bilz|
|1999-2001||Reiner Knizia||Stefanie Rohner||Jürgen P.K. Grunau|
|2001-2003||Peter Lewe||Thomas Fackler||Edith Grein-Böttcher|
|2003-2005||Alan R. Moon||Andrea Meyer||Anja Wrede|
|Jens-Peter Schliemann||Henning Poehl|
|2007-2009||Lutz Stepponat||Reiner Stockhausen||Henning Poehl|
|2009-2011||Friedemann Friese||Stefan Risthaus||Christian Beiersdorf|
|2011-2013||Harald Mücke||Michael Feldkötter||Christian Beiersdorf|
|2013-2015||Ulrich Blum||Hajo Bücken||Christian Beiersdorf|
|2015-2017||Marco Teubner||Hartmut Kommerell||Christian Beiersdorf|
2001: German Game Awards - Special Prize. The Merz company, organizer of the German Game Awards, gave a special prize to the SAZ in 2001 – on the following grounds:
"The Spiele-Autoren-Zunft e.V. (SAZ) has, through its work since its formation 10 years ago, considerably contributed to the promotion of the rights and needs of game designers who had been largely anonymous up till then, and only through this did it become possible for the term "Autoren-Spiel" ("Author's game"), unique in Germany, to gain importance to the public."
2008: The SAZ was admitted as a member of the German Cultural Council. This was a significant milestone for the public recognition of games as cultural assets, and provided a good basis to become active for our goals, as a lobby and in socio-political respects.
2011: The SAZ is celebrating its 20th aniversary! For its dedicated advocacy for the interests of game designers, the SAZ was awarded the Inno-Spatz at the 30. Game Designer Meeting in Göttingen. This Award is given by Reinhold Wittig, the founder of the meeting in cooperation with the city of Göttingen.