|Susan McKinley Ross at 2011 Spiel des Jahres|
Over the course of this discussion, I was intrigued by this "specialty toy" sub-genre of games that I find difficult to describe. These are somewhere in the realm of family and party games. Companies with products in this genre include
- Calliope Games (Tsuro - something of an outlier in this line)
- Educational Insights (Blokus)
- GameWright (Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, Sounds Like a Plan)
- HearthSong (the 1965 hit Booby Trap, among more recent others)
- MindWare (Qwirkle, of course, plus Q-bitz and many others)
- Out of the Box (Word on the Street, Apples to Apples, Basari, 10 Days In ...)
- Outset Media (Pick Two, Word Thief, Chicago Cribbage)
- Peaceable Kingdom (Go Fish)
- ThinkFun (Swish)
- Winning Moves (Pit)
- Peggy Brown (Buzzword, Backseat Drawing, Q-bitz)
- Joyce Johnson and Colleen McCarthy-Evans (In a Pickle, Aunt Millie's Millions, Sounds Like a Plan)
- Mary Jo Reutter (winner of the 2010 Toy and Game Inventor of the Year [TAGIE] for Excellence in Game Design, designer of Sumo Ham Slam)
- Gina Manola (Notable Novelists, Feed the Woozle)
- Kim Vandenbroucke (Party Playoff, Cheese Louise)
Mary Couzin, who runs the annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG, which just wrapped up last weekend) and who seeks to promote designers as a method of branding games. These women work in the market that is "between gamer games and mass market." She thinks that as Americans become more accustomed to seeing designers' names on boardgame boxes, they may start to appear on these specialty market games, and female designers may gain more visibility.
I'm reminded of a blog post I wrote last March when Leslie Scott (Jenga) won the 2012 TAGIE for Excellence in Game Design. Although I recognized two of the other four nominees (Klaus Teuber and David Hoyt), I was particularly struck by the fact that I had never heard of Leslie Scott, and started to realize that there is a whole segment of the game industry to which I have very little exposure.
Hearing the podcast inspired me to suggest to Kathy that we play Qwirkle for our cocktail-hour game yesterday. Maybe I should have kept my inspiration to myself. We had a great game, but in the final analysis, well, she crushed me, 242 to 190. I think I played too defensively - or maybe Kathy just beat me outright.