Each year, five games are selected as recipients for the Mensa Select award, which recognizes games that are “original, challenging and well designed.” Over the weekend, the committee met in Austin, TX for the Mensa Mind Games 2014 and revealed their picks for this year’s winners:
The Mensa Select Winner sticker will adorn their boxes and join the ranks of previous winners such as Suburbia, Forbidden Desert, Snake Oil, and Dominion. While the award is certainly prestigious, the Mensa Select typically favors games that are quicker and require more thought. Big box and long-play games aren’t commonly chosen, though it’s not impossible.
The selection process, according to a user over on BoardGameGeek, resembles something like this:
The first Mensa Select awards were given in 1990. Originally, a panel of judges selected the games, but in 1996 it was opened up to the membership. What follows is the current process for naming the Mensa Select games. To be considered, a game must be submitted by its publisher. The Mind Games event is held from Friday night to Sunday morning, with a different local Mensa group hosting the event each year (for example, the 2006 event was in Portland, Oregon, and the 2007 event was in Pittsburgh). Within the approximately 40-hour period of the event, each participant evaluates 30 of the games that have been submitted for that year.
With the highly compressed evaluation period, the Mensa Select awards tend to favor games that are quick and easy to learn. And many worthy games are not submitted by their publishers because they are not viewed as “Mensa” games. Given both of these limitations, it’s not really surprising that many of the winners are abstract brain-burners or party games that deal with words or trivia.
I have not had an opportunity to play any of the winning selections yet, though Euphora has certainly been high on my list for some time. Gravwell sounds interesting as well, but the general consensus has been fairly divided on the game. I’m looking forward to giving it a chance at some point.
What do you think of this year’s winners?