Veteran games inventor Jack Jaffe likens the current situation regarding his latest creation, Velodrome, to the same struggles initially felt by Monopoly creator Charles Darrow.
It is Xmas, AD 1933.
Unemployed heating engineer Charles Darrow has had a hard time, trying to sell his new board game, Monopoly. Having cribbed the game from one produced in 1904 and shown to him by friends, Darrow has added his own ideas and tried to interest established games companies, without success.
Most of them hadn’t bothered to reply but those that did all said they didn’t want to deal with a one-product company. In one of the few replies he received, he was told that his game ‘had 41 errors.’
Darrow had succeeded in selling copies of the game into a Philadelphia store, where it was bought by the daughter of the CEO whose company had counted the errors. She learned to play the game and insisted that her father sit down and play it.
He did – and Parker Brothers later made the equivalent of showbiz history. (We don’t know the identities of those who didn’t bother to reply but I would think they’re turning over in their graves)
It will soon be Xmas, AD 2015 and Darrow and I will have had a lot in common. My new board game, Velodrome, has been submitted to most of the leading buyers – who haven’t even bothered to respond with a ‘Thanks but no thanks’. (I won’t list their names because the names I was given may or may not be the right names: just try calling or emailing a request for ‘the name of the games buyer . . .’)
You may be saying “Could they have found the game lacking or without appeal?”
If so, here’s my response: Velodrome, as the name suggests, is a two- or three-player game based on cycling, incorporating continuous player interaction. When you play a Power card from the cards in your hand, you know that your opponent adds it to the value of his next Power card and so on. In that way it replicates the pull-me push-you of the actual race. You have 14 Power cards all told; total value is identical but distribution is different. Slip-streaming and blocking also feature, reflecting reality.
Maybe the games buyer thinks cycling has no appeal. If so, he may be unaware that it’s the fastest growing individual sport and not only that, it’s the fastest growing spectator sport among children and adults.
Playing time is 45 to 50 minutes and rules can be read and understood in 15 to 20 minutes. And there’s no competition – it’s the only cycling board game on the UK market.
I’m no beginner, having been in the board game design business since 1970.
I have designed and produced four other games in the UK market. These included Save the President! – which intrigued composer Stephen Sondheim (a games buff) so much that he played it for six months and invited me to dinner!
So, history repeats itself. Xmas is looming but sales won’t take place without distribution and display.
Let me challenge any games buyer – whoever or wherever you are – give me an hour of your time and see if you want to order Velodrome in time for Xmas.
History doesn’t have to repeat itself where you’re concerned..
For more info, contact me on 0208 445 7787 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.