10 Questions

Each month in the Inventor Newsletter I ask 10 Questions of an established inventor or game company. The results are posted below and will be updated monthly.

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Keith Meyers , (Aug '07)
Q - # of years in the industry, # of years as a game inventor?
A - I have been in the game industry for 20 years, dabbling as an inventor most of that time. I have been a full-time inventor since year 2000.

Q - How many games have you had published? Which is/are your favorite(s)?
A - I have around 2 dozen unique games that have been published. I am best know for the family boardgame, The Hobbit, but my favorites of my published games are Slammers (most fun play testing) and Fast Figure (best game mechanic).

Q - Favorite game that is not yours?
A - It has to be Apples to Apples. This is the game I pull out the most often when we have gaming events, especially with people who are not hardcore gamers.

Q - What did you do before this? And how did you make the transition?
A - I was in the marketing department for UCSB Extension; adult education.

A little fed up with my job, I looked in the phone book under 'game manufacturers' hoping to find out how to pitch a game idea. There were 2 companies listed. At the time I did not realize how amazing that was for a small town like Santa Barbara. I made the calls and struck up a friendly conversation with one of the companies - The Game Works. Started writing rules for them, then migrated to part-time work, and then full-time work. Turns out that company was tied to The Game Keeper, retail chain of game stores. So my course was locked in from that initial phone call!

I feel pretty lucky about that fortuitous turn of events and realize not everyone can be so lucky. That is why I enjoy teaching classes, to help others find their gaming opportunity they might otherwise have missed.

Q - In a typical year... how many games ideas do you prototype? how many presentations do you make? how many get licensed?
A - I prototype about a dozen. I will meet with 40 game companies on yearly basis. I usually license 2-3 games a year.

Q - What is your process for getting games seen?
A - Most presentations are made in person at various tradeshows (mainly the Toy Fair in New York and Essen in Germany). I will typically meet with 4 game companies each day during the shows. Appointments at this point are easy, because of my track record.

However, I do not hesitate to contact companies via email or phone when I have something that I think is perfect for them, and I have had just as much success that way.

Q - What is your favorite thing about the game/toy industry? And least favorite?
A - The people are my favorite thing. It is such a great group of people - after all they are surrounded by games and toys! My least favorite thing is usually the waiting for a decision. I have had games picked up within a month, and some that have taken close to a year.

Q - Do you see any trends in the gaming industry?
A - Last year, I would have said domino-style games, but I did not note any particular trends this year. Overall, I am glad to see abstract strategy games, such as Blokus, becoming a strong category again.

Q - What one thing that you know now, do you wish you had known when you were starting out?
A - Rejections usually have very little to do with how good your game is. The rejection is more likely based on the company's product line and their current direction, so the game does not 'fit' into their mix at this time.

Q - If you were to give beginning inventors one bit of advice, what would it be?
A - If you are creative enough to invent one game, you are creative enough to invent several games. Hanging all your hopes on one game is a shot in the dark. By pitching a handful of games, you not only increase your chances of success, but you establish yourself as a 'serious' inventor


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