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Scattergories Categories: Best $20 You’ll Ever Spend! (plus reviews from other people)

6 December 2010

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I know that there are plenty of toy and game inventors that read this site so and I’m sure they’ve had similar experiences – but there’s no feeling in the world quite like seeing your game on the shelf!  It makes all of the hard work and late nights worth it, and dulls the pain of all of the rejection letters that go with being in the business.  My big game this year is Scattergories Categories manufactured by Winning Moves.  Now, I don’t entirely think it’s fair that I review my own game, but then again this is my site…and I like this game – A LOT.  So I’ve decided to compromise a bit and I’ll explain a little of the history of the game, then I’ll have some outside folks toss their two cents in.

Scattergories Categories_Prototype PicI’d like to say I knew Scattergories Categories was exactly what it was when I came up with the idea, but I didn’t.  I didn’t think the idea of having a vertical category word with players trying to come up with words horizontally that start with the letters in the vertical category word was enough to stand on it’s own, so it ended up being a mini-game in another game.  Luckily, Mike Gray remarked that the little mini-game was an interesting idea and that feedback got the Scatttergories Categories ball rolling.  After making it a game on it’s own it was obvious that it was a great line extension for the Scattergories brand (sketch at right).  Unique answers get you points just like in the classic version, but  it solved the one thing I disliked about Scattergories, which is you play the same 12 cards over and over.  This new method solves the “repeat” problem so easily because you get a new category every round thus you never feel like you’re playing the same questions over and over with different letters.   Thankfully, Winning Moves agreed, licensed it and asked me to write the content!  (Yipee – I LOVE writing content!)Scattergories Questions

I will admit that coming up with enough category phrases/words was a little more difficult than I had expected.  Scattergories Categories not like other category games where you come up with a category and boom – it’s done!  In Scattergories Categories the vertical word or phrase needed to have a minimal number of vowels, virtually no Is, Us, Xs,Ys, Zs or any other weird consonants.  For example: if I wanted the topic to be “Bubble Gum Brands and Flavors” BUBBLE GUM seems like the obvious choice especially since there are a ton of answers for B like: Big League Chew, banana, Berry Blast, Big Red, Bazooka, etc. but what flavor starts with U?!  Ugli fruit?  I’d veto that.  So the vertical word became BEST CHEW because it still includes the B and limits the vowels to only two Es which have a bunch of answers: Eclipse, Extra, Excel Extreme, euclyptus (although not common flavor it’s one of my favorites) just to name a few.  So coming up with words turned out to be more of a science than I expected!  But after two weeks and almost 1.5 inches of paper I was done and was more certain than ever that the game rocked – mostly because after essentially playing for 2 weeks straight, I wished I had to do more! Scattergories Categories_Stack of Questions

Like I said earlier, reviewing my own game may not be the most believable thing I could do (although I must ask, have I steared you wrong in the past?), so here are some other people who gave me their reviews:

Lauren Rizzo, Teen Programming Librarian at Indian Trails Public Library · Addison, IL

(Lauren got introduced to the game when I brought an advance copy to her library “Meet the Inventor, Play the Game” program back in June.)

“If you want great fun, Scattergories Categories definitely the way to go.  This game is a fun twist on the original game (Scattergories), and, I think, gives the game an additional level of strategy.  Players are given a word that describes a category – it is then up to the players to come up with words that start with each of the letters in the original describing word – a deeper level of play.  The fun begins when the timer starts, and you’ve got 2 minutes to think of something that will (1) fit into the category, (2) start with the correct letter, (3) be unique (in that no one else will write it as their own).  Example—Carnival: C = cotton candy, A = acrobats, R = rats, etc.   This can get very creative and you’ll get answers you would’ve never expected.  Especially if you’re playing with my mom who tends to “cheat” – somehow if there’s a letter D in the original word, the answer will always be “dirt.”  The rules do allow for people to challenge another player’s answers, which adds another hysterical dynamic to the fun-for-all-ages game.  My mom’s defense to any challenges?  Dirt is everywhere.  And it’s hard to say no to that!”

Suzette Soukup-Oko, Private Investigator · Westmont, IL

“It’s now my favorite game to play.  I like it because I am a light-weight (drinker) and you can play it when you are drinking and it seems like the answers we come up with get funnier and funnier!  It’s easy, relaxing and fun to play with a lot of people or just 3 people. Even though there is thinking involved, the unique questions that are asked of us on the cards really seem to stimulate thoughts and are answer-able when intoxicated!  It’s easy to set-up, easy to explain to a new-comer, and the time really flies when playing it.  Nobody ever seems like they are ready to stop playing the game.  It’s great because both young people and old people can play it.  It brings out a lot of laughter from the group!”

Josh Gorman, Program Assistant at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History · Washington DC Scattergories Categories Opening

“I found [the game] before thanksgiving and pulled it out a couple times with my family and [my wife’s]. It was great – a huge improvement over the original.  More letters makes it only slightly easier and tons more inventive (and thus more fun in my book).”

Chung Liang, Design Manager at Learning Curve Brands · Chicago, IL

“The categories are funny and people’s answers are likely to spark lively debate.  Also, the odds of having similar answers are more likely so there’s some strategy in how you fill in the answers for words with 2 of the same letters.”

Nicole Flores, Northside Prep High School Math Teacher · Chicago, IL

“I love Scattergories Categories!  Having a love of Scattergories and board games in general, I was naturally drawn to this new hit game.  What I enjoyed the most is having the category provided and then different letters as opposed to rolling a die and using one letter the whole time.  I think this offers more diversity in answers and more playing fun!  I have played Scattergories Categories with family, friends and even students.  This is definitely a game I will continue to play.”

Nina Kult, Public Relations Executive · St. Louis, MO

“I love the challenge of Scattergories Categories, taking the original Scattergories concept one step further. It forces you to think fast and be creative in attempt to outsmart your fellow players.”

Tracy Lopata, Manager at Lopata & Company · Naperville, IL

“I loved Scattergories Categories.  It was better than the original.  A wonderful game to play with a group of friends.  We had silly, warmhearted fun and laughter playing this game.”

Scott Slimmer, Post-Doctoral Student University of Illinois · Champaign, IL Scattergories Categories Opening_2

“I’ve always enjoyed the original Scattergories, but I love the way that Scattergories Categories breathes new life into a familiar game with one simple yet elegant twist.  The combination of intriguing categories with playfully worded clue phrases also serves to infuse the game with the kind of unpredictable fun that brings to mind one of my all-time favorite game shows, Pyramid.  Scattergories Categories is definitely going into heavy rotation in my family’s game repertoire.”

Bonnie Olszewski, Public Relations Specialist · Joilet, IL

“I enjoyed it because of the wide variety of categories. It was harder than I thought to come up with answers for some of the letters, and tons of fun to hear what everyone came up with and for them to defend their words that were kind of a stretch.”

Lindsey Smith, Museum Curator, Archivist and Exhibit Developer · Des Moines, IO

“Scattergories Categories is the perfect game for anyone who wants to be a little creative and have a lot of fun!”

Jack Degnan, Board Game Inventor, San Diego, CA

“Very fun, easy, contagious!”

ScattergoriesCategories_BNLaurie Wojtko, Scientist · Palatine, IL

“It’s a fantastic challenge and provided for lively conversation and competition.”

Emily Vandenbroucke, Pharmacology Doctoral Candidate · Chicago, IL

(yea, so we’re related…we grew up playing games together so if she likes it, it’s probably good.)

“Really creative take on the original Scattergories- still a ton of fun to play in groups or with just 2, but now with a new twist that makes you think just a little differently than before.”

Scattergories Categories Stats:

~$20 at Toys R Us, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and lots of mom & pop stores
2 or more players (it says 4 but we’ve played with 10+)
~4 minutes per round, ~20-30 minutes for a game to 25
Ages 12 and Up

What did YOU think of Scattergories Categories?

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  • Scattergorize

    Looks great. I’d never heard of this before.

  • http://SeizethePlay Tim

    Congratulations, Kim. Very cool to see it in Barnes & Noble. I hope they sell a gazillion of ‘em!

  • Amy Reynolds

    Going to get it today to give as a Christmas gift to my brother so I get to play it too!

  • http://www.KimVandenbroucke.com Kim Vandenbroucke

    YAY – thanks Amy!

  • Playforfame

    no stores are selling this game and it’s not available online either. do you know if and when we can start purchasing this game again?

  • http://www.TheGameAisle.com Kim Vandenbroucke

    It sold out!! It’s being reordered by the manufacturer so expect to see it on store shelves later in February!

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