Recently an inventor/self manufacturer contacted me asking if I would review her game. She sent me an email with a brief description of the item and after much agonizing contemplation I agreed to take a look at the product. Why the hesitation? I don’t think her product can be called a “game.” (And as you all know, here at The Game Aisle I review games.)
A sample of Inspiralus arrived and I played with it for a little while but I still was not convinced it could be called a game. It’s a thoughtful, adult fortune telling product that uses a hatbox filled with phrases called “spiri” to help the user answer a question. Sound familiar? It’s like a complex, adult version of Mattel’s Magic 8-Ball. But wow — the Magic-8 Ball has been a game aisle staple for over sixty years. So then is it a game?
I’ve always believed that the core feature of a game is that it has winners and losers. Sometimes there is one winner and lots of losers, sometimes there are lots of winners and one loser, sometimes there are big winners and little winners like in poker but to be a game I’ve always believed that you need to have someone come out on top. Now I wonder if my definition of “game” needs to be broadened.
Back in my Meyer/Glass Design years I worked with a brilliant and successful inventor named Randy Klimpert who told me that a game is simply a “toy with rules.” So following that mentality, Inspiralus – and the Magic 8-Ball – are both games.
I think I’ll toss it out to the group here. What do you think? What makes a product a game versus a toy?
$39.95 at Inspiralus.com
~2-5 Minutes (per question)
Ages 9 and up
Magic 8-Ball Stats:
~$6 at pretty much anywhere that sells toys/games
~1 Minute (depends on how long you shake it)
Age: Anyone who can read