I made a presentation a couple nights ago at a suburban library to a group of kids interested in games. We played several of our Lund games created over the years by our talented team of game inventing Elves, including Dragon Strike and Fireball Island.
As the game of Fireball Island progressed the tension and excitement level rose, and the players could no longer remain seated. It is that exciting to play. The noise level rose, the intensity increased, there was frantic, even desperate, play of cards, rule book consultations and strategizing at each turn. Finally, there was a surprise come-from-behind win.
The kids were immersed in the adventure. Every game tells a story, I like to say - more than a movie, more social and involving than a book, as immersive as the best video game (or more so?). In a board game, players can be swept up in the excitement of the play. You do it side by side, with friends and family.
It was instructive and inspirational to watch others enjoy this game that we created so long ago. And more than I have been in years, I am again inspired to create games that can deliver the kind of excitement and enjoyment that this group experienced together through Fireball Island.
Wanted: Game designer to create amazingly great games.
A board game is a machine for human interaction, by my definition. It enables an enjoyable interplay between people, somehow, someway. It is almost magic. What makes a game great is a mystery me. Unlike a toy, the magic is in the air between the players, and does not reside in the device itself.
Belief in Santa is an example of Magical Thinking. It is exercise for the imagination. Like a muscle, if you exercise the imagination you make it stronger.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article they discussed the power of Magical Thinking and its benefits for children and adults. Magical Thinking is imagination made real. Imaginary friends, believing in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus are good examples of Magical Thinking. I do love that term.
The exercising of one's imagination is shown to strengthen, develop, build and otherwise enhance imagination, just as use and exercise strengthen and build muscles. Research has shown that children who are more prone to believe in the imaginary reap other positive benefits that follow us into adulthood.
So you see, believing in Santa Claus really is good for you.
I have many industry heroes, but a few creative geniuses stand out. One is Russell Hornsby, the man who built Trendmasters to $100 million in under ten years. They were a remarkable company in their day and the talk of the industry not so many years ago. With his new company Cepia, Russell has done it again, and he has the hottest toy in years, Zhu Zhu Pets.
In between Trendmasters and Cepia he invented a revolutionary non-toy product that was sold to a major consumer product company. This man is amazing.
Russell was rightfully awarded this year's Inventor of the Year award at the TAGIEs in Chicago. It was my great privilege to be able to stand at the podium and acknowlege him, a friend and esteemed colleague. I was delighted to be able to put the trophy into the hands of his daughters who represented him while he toiled away in China to put more product in the pipeline.
Russell is one of the great creative minds the great entrepreneurs in the toy industry - cut of the same cloth as Louis Marx and others of industry lore. It takes a rare breed to be able to do what he has done and continues to do.
Kudos and Congratulations, Russell. No one deserves it more.
And Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happiest of holidays to all.
May it be a wonderful holiday season and a great New Year for you and yours,
Is it also the crappy toys that all too often come to market and result in a disappointed consumer? Toys are often too expensive, too hyped, too complex, too lacking in play pattern, or too low quality. Poor toys hurt us all. And poor toys can't be expected to sell very well generally, though I can think of some exceptions. One can not take pride in their creation or bringing them to market. They embarrass us all.
But what else might it be, tell me please what you see? What do you think hurts our industry? Of course there is competition from other products in other industries, but that is not new. What might we do, what might we change? The future is in our hands. We create the future of our industry, intentionally or unintentionally, with forethought or without.
Envision the future of the toy industry that you would like to see. Imagine a great future for our great industry, and let's work toward that.
The future will be of our own making . . . or not?
Why would my esteemed colleague describe the toy business as a withering industry? What is it that he sees? What are the markers?
In fact there may be many.
We suffer from the global malaise, of course, and as an industry we all suffer from the self inflicted wounds that resulted from the safety lapses of a few, and subsequent lapses in logic, sanity, and truthfulness in the handling of those oversights. When industry leaders cough, the industry catches the flu - and we all suffer.