This year The Game of THINGS… has found a new home with Patch Products and so it seems like a good time to talk with its inventor, Tom Quinn, about his experience in the game biz. Before we jump into the interview, let me tell you a little about The Game of THINGS… If you haven’t played it, I’m sure you’ve seen it and its iconic wooden box in the game aisle. THINGS… is a party game that’s simple to teach and play, one player reads a topic and then everybody writes down what pops into their head. All the responses are read out loud and you have to guess who wrote down what! The topics are edgy and fun like: “Things that jiggle” or “Things you shouldn’t say to your in-laws” Now that you know how to play, onto the interview!
1. First, congratulations on surpassing 1.5 MILLION copies sold of The Game of THINGS…! When you first invented this item did you ever dream it was going to be this big?
Thanks. We’re very excited. That’s a lot of people laughing. When my brother Ted, our friend Mark Sherry and I first invented The Game of THINGS… we had no “dreams” or expectations. We were not trying to invent a product to sell. We were just trying to make each other laugh… and it worked. Four years later, after playing THINGS… just for fun with hundreds of people it was obvious then that we had a hit on our hands.
2. I believe this is the first game you ever invented. Can you tell me how you went from idea to licensing it to Hasbro?
It was 3.5 years between committing to the idea and licensing to Hasbro and in the meantime we made a splash of our own in Canada.
It took 6 months to finalize the rules, edit 7,000 topics to 300 and design the graphics and box because I was working mostly in the US, Mark in Canada and Ted in Yemen in the Middle East. Concurrently we researched the industry, formulated a business plan/budget for the first 3 years, and then secured financing from 35 fans.
It finally felt real at the 2003 Canadian Toy Fair where we found a distributor to place us into most independent game retailers in Canada . I travelled across Canada twice in the first three years and did interviews on 75 radio stations, 15 News/Lifestyle TV shows and in over 100 newspapers and magazines. Each stop I scheduled in-store demos leaving owners and their staff laughing and ready to recommend THINGS… to their customers.
We sold 48,000 games in three years but the turning point came when THINGS… won the 2006 Canadian Toy Testing Council’s Top Ten Award. We were the first Canadian game to win the award and the media coverage was unbelievable with hundreds of stories in a few days. This brought attention from a lot of game companies and resulted in the licensing agreement with Hasbro – our premier choice.
3. Drawing from your experience, what advice would you give new game inventors?
- Study the game business in depth and or find a partner who already knows it. Play is serious business.
- Don’t invest too much money until you are positive you have a viable product.
- Lawyers – Choose one with game business experience who understands how to contractually protect your Intellectual Property.
4. Like many great games, The Game of THINGS... didn’t fade away after its time at Hasbro; instead it found a new home at Patch Products. Can you share a little about how the game went from one place to the other?
I think you are right. We originally sold Hasbro on THINGS… as a “Comedy Brand” with unlimited expansions across multiple platforms but their marketing mandates soon changed and we were included in the now defunct “Adult Game Night” group. THINGS… did well because of Hasbro’s distribution capabilities but we always felt that its potential had not been reached so when Hasbro dipped below the mandated sales target last year we immediately started looking for a new home. On January 1st, 2013 we decided Patch Products could best help realize that potential. The past nine months has been very exciting and together we’re making sure everyone knows about THINGS…!
5. I really enjoy the wooden packaging as I think it gives the game a distinctive look. How do you think this packaging has impacted the sales of your game?
Thanks. We are proud of it. We decided that a simple classy wooden box would set us apart from the color noise in the game department and immediately declare The Game of THINGS… as a premium product. It is not easy to measure the impact monetarily as we have never had a cardboard version but within 6 months most retailers in Canada were calling us “THINGS… in a box”.
6. What was your favorite game growing up and why was it memorable?
I had no “one” favorite. I would try every new game that was released. I simply love to play.
Thanks to Tom Quinn for taking the time to answer my questions! You can read more about Tom and The Game of THINGS… at Patch’s website.
The Game of THINGS… Stats:
$25-40 at Barnes & Noble, Meijer, Target, Amazon and Walmart Canada.
4 or more players
~30 minutes (more if you have lots of players… or people who write their answers at tortise speed)
Ages 14 and up