DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: Andy Allen and HexAgony

Andy Allen

By Andy Allen

April 23rd 2015 at 12:30PM
UPDATED April 23rd 2015 at 12:57PM
DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: Andy Allen and HexAgony

Andy's late mother always told him that one day, he'd invent something. Some 30 years later, he can say he finally has. Allen talks us through the journey of HexAgony.

It was 1985 and I was 21 years old, living at home in West London, and working for a telecommunications company when I invented HexAgony.

Lots of us had been shipped into the City in preparation for the impending "Big Bang" when the Stock Exchange rules changed.

It was a very busy time, but every day we stopped for lunch, and a few of us ended up playing games such as chess, draughts, or dominoes. Sometimes the games lasted too long, and so I set about trying to create a game that we could finish in a lunch hour. The game needed to be very simple to learn and quick to play.

I remember a few ideas that were absolute rubbish, but I kept on coming back to a game where you simply matched colours rather than dots or numbers, and basically that's how HexAgony came about.

I cut out 60 hexagonal bits of card, and coloured them in by hand as we didn't have colour printers in 1985, and amazingly the game received good feedback from colleagues.

Thinking that I'd stumbled across the next Othello, I quickly sent off a letter with instructions to Waddingtons. As I recall, their rejection came just as fast, and so that was it, I gave up.

16 years later I happened to mention the game to a colleague. He suggested that we have a couple of sets of tiles manufactured and we could try and promote the game ourselves. Unfortunately he headed off to a new life in Australia before we did anything about it, and I changed jobs, and so the idea got shelved for another ten years.

It was only because of a chance conversation that another colleague had with a new neighbour that eventually led to an introduction to the MD of a large toy manufacturing company in China.

I've worked with them over a number of years now, as the size and the weight of the tiles has been refined, and I think that we now have something that looks and feels like a real quality item. They have done an excellent job.

Fast forward to today, and I have just taken delivery of a large quantity of games in preparation for the game's launch at the UK Games Expo at the end of May. Ahead of the official launch, I’m taking HexAgony to Board Game Club where it will be the main featured game at their April event in London on 30 April.

I am really very excited, because my late mother had a saying that stuck with me for many years.
She always said to me "I thought that you'd invent something".

Well it may have taken me 30 years to get it to market, but at last the dreams of a 21-year old have come true, and I can finally say that "Yes, I did invent something".