“SPIEL” – An Interview with Carol Rapp, Managing Director

Richard: For those unfamiliar with the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, can you tell us its history?

Carol: The Internationale Spieltage SPIEL started 40 years ago as a gathering for people that wanted to share their love for tabletop games with a broader audience. Originally, SPIEL was handled as a family business. Domnique Metzler, a family member, worked tomakeSPIEL shine like a diamond. It was a unique event. It was hosted at the adult education center in Essen during the early years.

In 1985 the convention outgrew its former location. It moved to Messe Essen, the perfect place to turn it into the largest consumer show for tabletop games in the world.. Since that time, SPIEL has grown in participants and exhibitors, turning from a “more” German or European show into an international gathering of gaming enthusiasts. We welcome publishers and attendees from all five continents. And with more than 1800 new releases presented, SPIEL is the must-go-to show in the calendar. 

Dominique Metzler was the “glue” that held the show together for many years. She made it a familiar place for publishers, distributors, and especially for all the participants – young and old, families and core fans, industry and enthusiasts. It is an honor that she entrusts Spielwarenmesse eG and me with her “baby” to ensure the next 40 years. 😉

Richard: I understand that you have a long history with and enthusiasm for play. How did you find your way into the toy industry?

Carol: I cannot imagine a time in my life that I have not played in one or the other way. I grew up in a family who gifted the “Spiel des Jahres” to me or my brother every single Christmas. So, what did we do on Christmas? Of course, we tested the new game. Aside from that, we played more strategic games with our father, which trained my logical and critical thinking processes.

Catan was one of the first games I played outside of family gaming nights. This game is the one reason I ended up in the toy industry. Because of Catan, I met Udo Schmitz, who ran an organization that hosted game events all over Germany. He provided me with the chance to be part of his team. And so, the ball started rolling. From there, and the first Guinness World Record attempt for the biggest game of Catan in 2005 in Chemnitz, I got the chance to join Kosmos as part of their Catan Marketing Team.

Richard: Can you tell us about your professional experience and how you will use it in your new position?

Carol: My professional experiences were shaped by event management, marketing, and operations. I have organized and handled events from small, lasting a few hours, to 3000 square meters to SPIEL with more than 500 people, coordinating many different countries.

SPIEL´23 will be the 22nd time I will be on the professional side of the show. The only difference now is that my organization will be the host. Being part of the hustle for so long helps me to understand the tasks at hand and helps in building bridges between different stakeholders. For me, SPIEL and any other event I have ever organized demands a team effort. Therefore, I focus on building the best team possible that can sail rough waters blindfolded if necessary..

Richard: When will the next Internationale Spieltage SPIEL take place, and how can potential exhibitors and attendees learn more about it?

Carol: The next SPIEL will be from October 5th – 8th, 2023, in Essen, Germany. You can find all the information on our website www.spiel-messe.com or follow us on one of our social media profiles. We are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Richard: If someone wants to register to visit or exhibit, where would they go to do that?

Carol: All potential exhibitors are welcome to contact us via our website: spiel-messe.com, or email: info@merz-verlag.com

Richard: And one final question, what is your favorite game?

Carol: Wow, that is a tough question. It is always hard to choose when you have a tabletop collection that is around 3000 games strong. I like many different games. In my humble opinion, the perfect game is a game that all players around the table enjoy. That leads me to have other favorite games for different groups of people. Ark Nova is an example of game my husband and I enjoy with our family at Christmas time. It has that endless cuteness factor and is still an expert strategy game. And there is also Dice Throne, a fun and easy game that takes less than 20 minutes to play. I could continue like this for a while, but it is obvious that I enjoy many kinds of games and company.

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