Tom Werneck, the unquestionable guru of the German game company

Tom Werneck, l'indéfectible gourou allemand du jeu de société

HAAR — With a treasure of over 20, 000 jeux de plateau, Tom Werneck has accumulated an amazing collection throughout an unusual career. As simple amateur, this German turned into the oracle of the game of society.

The floor to the ceiling of a basement bavarian, the collector 79-year-old has stacked games for nearly a half-century. One of its pearls? A game released in the 80’s, Trump: The game. All in letters of gold, of course.

Bought in the Tower Trump in New York, the box is illustrated with a photo of the real-estate developer, became the president of america, and a phrase typically trumpienne : “The question is not winning or losing, but to win!”

Tom Werneck, nothing is more false. “Play, is to connect with people. I want to play with you, look you in the eyes. You are the true goal of the game. I don’t care if I win or if I lose,” he said to the AFP.

Paradoxically, this former employee of Siemens has experienced a childhood in the open air, in the bavarian Alps, during which he wielded neither the dice nor the counters. His flame for the game company, he developed it in adulthood, after having been disappointed by a purchased game, which led him to change the rules until you are satisfied.

The passion was then born, a tad compulsive… to the point that his wife has had to put hola in front of his shopping spree.

But, wanting to enjoy his hobby, Mr. Werneck is a solution to access games at a lower cost: it is fact a columnist in the German newspaper and attended the famous Nuremberg toy fair to do the full.

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Tom Werneck, l'indéfectible gourou allemand du jeu de société

The floor to the ceiling of a basement bavarian, the collector 79-year-old has stacked games for nearly a half-century.

AFP, Christof Stache

Game nazi

Her proudest moment : having co-created in 1979 the Price of the game of the year (Spiel des Jahres), which became 40 years an institution in Germany, and is popular with the manufacturers.

If most games start with a small-scale start, between 3500 and 5000 boxes, the winner of the Spiel des Jahres can expect to sell 300,000 to 500,000 copies of its creation, assured Mr. Werneck.

To preserve his collection and make it accessible to future generations, Tom Werneck has also founded a score of years a non-profit association.

Among his earliest works is a card game, the green and white of the 1870s depicting famous composers.

Most controversial : the collector also has a set of society of the nazi era based on the conquest of England by the troops hitler. “It is terrible, it has been designed to excite the children about the war,” says Werneck.

His vast collection is now kept in a building made available by the municipality of Haar, in the suburbs of Munich.

Mr. Werneck and his team of fifteen volunteers are cataloguing and store carefully each title, with new acquisitions arriving almost daily.

The classics, modernized

Far from being out of style in a world where the digital is steadily increasing, the need to move away from the screens and interact with real people seems to even fuel a global boom in social games.

The market of jigsaw puzzles, board games and cards has thus increased by 6 % in 2017 at a global level (and exactly as much in Germany), according to the institute for the study of NPD, and the trend seems durable.

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These entertainment generate in Germany about 500 million euros (773 MILLION CAN$) of annual revenues, representing a non-negligible share of the toy market in the country, which is estimated at three billion euros, says the German Association of the toy industry (DVSI).

The business of toys, therefore, are also turned to “influencers” online to promote the games.

The classics are renewed, too, like the game of Monopoly, which now offers an edition Fortnite — based on the video game successful self-titled — or a shortened version of the original game.

The popularity of these games comes as no surprise to Mr. Werneck : it “reflects what happens in society”.

Applications of social games on smartphones, another trend in vogue, leave, however, doubtful as the collector. “If I have to focus on a stupid camera instead of my playmates, is that something is not right.”


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