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")?

A first meeting in June 1991, did not yet entirely agree upon the name. On a proposal from Karl-Heinz Schmiel, "Verein" ("Club") was replaced by "Zunft" ("Guild").  Not everybody was happy with "Zunft"; but finally, on October 17, 1991, the organization was founded as Spiele-Autoren-Zunft e.V. in Essen.

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
2005-2007 Marcel-André
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 Arve D. Fühler
Deutscher Spielepreis (German Game Award)


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.