Billy Langsworthy looks at how Bananagrams has extended the game into a nationwide schools tournament.
Publish date:
Social count:

Before I start, it's probably best to let the above image soak in.

Take as long as you need.

Chances are you're experiencing a wave of pretty intense emotions, and I'm here to let you know that they're all okay.

Grab a glass of water if needed, and like the Sun, it's probably safest to look around it, rather than directly at it.

Okay, are we all alright?

Good. So, aside from showing off the absolute peak of my sexiness and pitching for a place on next year's Bananagrams calender, the reason I've chucked that photo into the online ether is because last weekend, I took part in the very first Bananagrams Challenge.

The Challenge saw 12 kids take part in the live Grand Final of the word game tournament at the Magic Circle, and I was there, not as a contestant (I would've lost, heavily), but as an adjudicator.

As well as being a brilliant day and one that engaged all who were there (parents, kids and helpers included), it also showcased the kind of extension that a great game or toy can enjoy.

Rather than being just a game to Rena, the creator of Bananagrams, it was always the grand plan to use the creation as a means of engaging with children at school.

“When my father, my children and I invented Bananagrams back in 2006, we always dreamed there would one day be a way we could get schools competing and going wild with words together," said Nathanson.

"I’m immensely proud of how the Challenge has turned out and of how popular it has been with schools across the UK.”

Back in Nathanson's native US, the Spelling Bee has caught on big time, and it looks just as likely that the Banangram Challenge (also set to roll out across the US), can become bigger each year as it cements itself as something for schools up and down the UK to get involved with.

The Challenge has given the game of Bananagrams a life beyond the bedrooms and living rooms of fans everywhere.

Schools are now fans too, and it's a cracking reminder of how a great game idea can extend its reach and expand its purpose beyond a transaction at the till or as a game played behind closed doors.

While the event celebrated spelling, got youngsters excited about learning and gave a massive confidence boost to those kids at an age when they need it most, I think we can all champion the extension of a game in this way if it results in an image as visually arresting as myself straddling a giant banana.

(Also, here's a cheeky reminder that you can keep up to date with all things regarding the Inventors Bulletin and this year's Inventors Workshop via our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube.)


EDITOR'S COMMENT: Live forever

Inventor Ray Kurzweil has recently claimed that new technology will soon allow us to live on “indefinitely.” Billy Langsworthy takes a look at how toy and game inventors are achieving immortality through their work.

Featured Jobs

Vivid Job Logo 620 x 349

Digital Marketing Executive - Toys & Games

Vivid is Britain’s biggest toy company and the 20 largest in the world. With offices across the globe, they sell an amazing portfolio of toys and games to over 60 countries. Vivid is best known for its association with blockbuster brands and is very excited about future opportunities around the world.


UK Sales Agents

Liberty House Toys have been appointed as the exclusive UK distributor for the BiOBUDDi brand, and we are pleased to introduce this new unique, innovative and exciting range of 100% environmentally-friendly toy building blocks. We are seeking experienced sales agents with existing network in the toy retail market.

Gameplan Job Logo 620 x 349

Head of Product Development & Marketing

Our client is a privately owned French toy and games manufacturer which sells through distributors in forty countries. The company develops and sells innovative electronic interactive toys and games for the educational and gaming markets, and also takes suitable licenses. To progress its successful business development a Head of Product Development & Marketing is to to recruited.

HIT Entertainment Job Logo 620 x 349

Licensing Systems Administrator

The Contract System Coordinator is a newly created role to support the deal term entry process into Mattel’s new Contract Management System for its Licensing business. The role will support the Business Teams at the Deal & Amendment phase of the contracting process and act in conjunction with the System Administration team.