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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MindWare (Jun '09) as answered by Kristin Gallagher
Q - What are MindWare's greatest hits, and how would you describe your line of games overall?
A: MindWare's greatest hits include Qwirkle, CrossWise, and Square Up but we have many very good games; each one outstanding for the unique niche it fills in our line. At MindWare, games must engage and educate as well as entertain. In order to carry the MindWare label, each product is developed with specific attention to educational content, material quality and fun. Many of our games have won awards from prestigious organizations including Parents' Choice, Major Fun, Mensa, Dr. Toy, Creative Child Magazine, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio. We maintain high standards to make sure every game is worthy of such commendations. In addition to games, MindWare offers a full line of brainteasers, puzzle books and coloring books.

Q - Is there anything currently that you are looking for that is different than what you have done in the past?
A: MindWare is releasing several fantastic new games that challenge players' critical thinking and visual agility. We are always in the market for this type of game... games that put creative and logical thinking to the test. In addition to strategy games, we are always interested in games and toys that reflect core educational subjects such as science, math, language, and geography.

Q - How many games do you or your company review in a year?
A: Too many to count! At MindWare, we believe the next great game or learning toy can come from anywhere so we try to look at everything that comes our way.

Q - How many games does your company usually release in a year?
A: 2009 will be a big year for MindWare. We plan to release between six and nine new games. This is a huge undertaking for a small company like ours but MindWare has strengthened its commitment to new product development and we are very excited about where this is taking us as a company.

Q - Do you look at games by unknown inventors?
A: Absolutely! Teachers, parents and people who love to play games have great ideas for innovative new games. Often, an idea may need more massaging if it doesn't come from a seasoned game inventor, but that doesn't deter our interest.

Q - For beginning inventors, what would be the ideal way to approach and submit game ideas to you?
A: At MindWare, we really appreciate receiving a complete game prototype for us to play. It is very hard for us to fully evaluate a game if we can't play it. Make sure clear rules are included so we can approach game play just as a consumer would. It would also be helpful if your submission letter includes reasons why the game is a good fit for MindWare. How will players be challenged? What will players learn? Often subtle educational opportunities are not apparent at first glance.

Q - How long does it take from the time you receive a submission to the time you say 'yes' or 'no'?
A: We try to evaluate submissions within one to two weeks. Occasionally it will take us longer to make a decision if the game is a fit for our line - especially if we feel modifications could improve the game - but we try to move quickly.

Q - Does it depend on the time of the year, and if 'yes', what times of the year are best to submit?
A: We look at submissions year round but we make decisions for our big fall/holiday catalog by March or early April.

Q - What is the most common mistake you see from inventors?
A: The biggest mistake I see inventors make is creating a game too narrow in scope with a limited target market or a game that is too simple. Today's consumers aren't willing to pay for a game their children will quickly outgrow or that they can easily re-create at home with a deck of cards.

Q - If you were to give beginning inventors one bit of advice, what would it be?
A: Play test your game hundreds of times with every type of player before submitting it. Make sure that those play testing the game (1) read the rules themselves, (2) can figure out how to play without help from the inventor, (3) don't run into any stumbling blocks, and (4) most importantly, have so much fun playing, they want to play again!


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