Category Archives: ThinkFun Games

photo 2

The Purse Packrat… games to go!

As anyone who knows me and my obscenely large purse can attest, I am rarely without supplies for any given situation.

This was on display a few weeks ago, when I beat out dozens of ladies and “won” a bridal shower purse scavenger hunt. One by one items were called out (safety pins? check. eyedrops? check. lip balm? I found 3… check, check, check) and so it went, until I ended up with a mountain of things… and a victory!

WordARound at C2MTL

Party games aside, my slight hoarding tendencies have served me particularly well when it comes to the games I always have lurking in my bag. Ready to play at a moment’s notice, I’ve whipped out games in all sorts of situations – and my recent trip to the C2-MTL Conference reinforced why this extra baggage is totally worth the shoulder stress.

I stashed a stack of cards from our new WordARound game – and aside from my umbrella (the Montreal rain is no joke!), these cards proved to be one of my smartest accessories. Between talks from incredible business innovators like Diane Von Furstenberg and Sir Richard Branson, new friends had a blast getting in a quick mental workout in the form of game play.

Do you travel with games at-the-ready? Any fun stories or tips to share about spontaneous play?

 

The man behind the Laser… meet Luke Hooper!

Folks are getting fired up about Laser Maze! Since behind every great game are some equally amazing brains, I thought it would be fun to introduce the inventor, Luke Hooper! Luke also invented the award-winning strategy game Laser Khet 2.0, and he has done a brilliant job translating the fun of laser play to a solo logic game!

Luke & Laser Maze strike a pose at Toy Fair 2013

Luke & Laser Maze strike a pose at Toy Fair 2013

So Luke, what inspired you to create Laser Maze? 

Luke: Anyone who has ever picked up a laser pointer naturally starts to play with it in their own way, regardless of age. Unfortunately, a lot of things in physics and math don’t translate to everyday life in a way that justifies how amazing they are, but with lasers, it’s exactly the opposite. There is a universal coolness to controlling this very focused beam of light.

I was a huge fan of puzzles and single-player puzzle games as a kid and never really outgrew the fascination. When it comes to packaging games with challenges that have a great blend of fun and substance, ThinkFun is the leader in the puzzle game market for a reason. The team worked tirelessly to ensure the final game fit their high standard to satisfy puzzlers of all levels.

 

What has been the reaction you’ve heard to the game? 

Luke: All very positive thankfully! Anyone who has played Khet or shined a laser pointer off of a mirror has felt the satisfaction and wonder of seeing a laser end up somewhere completely different than the direction in which you originally aimed. Add to that the natural satisfaction of solving a puzzle, and you’ve got double the payoff with Laser Maze.

 

What was the biggest challenge in creating Laser Maze?

Luke: It is really tough to make a laser-based game in real life because the laser follows real life rules (physics)! This means that everything in the game has to be aligned almost perfectly, with errors smaller than 1/10 of a degree or the game won’t work. Solving these problems goes beyond typical game manufacturing, so a master’s degree in mechanical engineering was a big help!

 

Are there benefits/skills resulting from game play that you find surprising?

Luke: The unique mechanics involved with splitting beams introduces a new type of logical thinking that draws people into physics, geometry, and reasoning that normally wouldn’t touch a puzzle game!

 

Haven’t seen Laser Maze yet?! Check out this quick how-to-play video:

“I’m gonna roll them dice…”

Last month marked the 10th Annual Arlington County ThinkFun Math Dice Tournament… and while these 5th graders wowed the crowd with their impressive mental math skills, the team spirit performances got equal billing as stars of the show!

You may recall stellar performances in years past, like last year’s Math Dice-themed version of “Proud Mary” or this 2010 rendition of Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” and this year’s competitors kept up the tradition by raising the performance bar ever higher.

The team from the  Arlington Traditional School, otherwise known as the ATS 00Dicers, showed off  impressive skills with their adaptation of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” song.  Here are the Dicers performing an encore of “Dice Shop,” with lyrics below – enjoy!

Want to sing along? Here are the lyrics!

ATS Math Dice Song - DICE SHOP Lyrics-page-001

Get FIRED UP for Laser Maze!

Laser-1004-HiRes-ActionShot2After months of anticipation, Laser Maze finally arrived last week – and the initial response has been incredible! A GeekDad writer summed the excitement up perfectly with this response to game’s arrival, “Oooh, lasers!”

Of all the game-lovers in my life to share this with, first on my list was my friend Billy. Not only is he generally brilliant (check him out in action on the TEDx stage!), but he also happens to be an aerospace engineer and expert in optics and aviation lighting… who could be more qualified to play with lasers?!

(Also – I owed him big time after sending the 36 Cube puzzle a few years ago and costing him a full sleepless night in finding the solution.) After receiving one of the very first samples this weekend, Billy and his 6 year old son dove right in. His report:

“Upon receiving an awesome gift of Laser Maze, we solved the toughest puzzles then did the obligatory double slit experiment. #opticspuzzlegames=heaven… [My son] and I investigated the beam divergence angle of the laser, as well as learned about transmission, translucence, and opacity. I’m pretty sure he will have a slightly different view of nature than many if his 6 year old counterparts…”

This last line made me laugh out loud – I have no doubt this little guy’s got quite the leg up with a dad like Billy. Unsurprisingly, having solved the hardest challenges, Billy wrote back hungry for “more diabolical challenges” …we’re on it!

Have you checked out Laser Maze? Here’s a quick how-to-play video to show you how it works:

The stars and their mommies!

Meet the stars of the new Hello Sunshine video!

I am so excited to share the world premiere of our newest video for Hello Sunshine, starring some incredibly cute little toddlers and their mommies!

As you can imagine, we have an absolute blast filming this video with these playful kiddos – and I am thrilled with the final product – enjoy!

Many thanks to Jack, Charlotte, EJ, Penny and their playful mommies for making this fantastic new learning game come to life!

Happy Inventor Month: Meet the brains behind WordARound!

May is National Inventors Month! (Incidentally, it also happens to be National Barbecue Month, so fire up the grill and celebrate!)

ThinkFun’s inventors are the creative brains that drive our new products, and we love any chance we get to celebrate them. To kick off the month, I’m thrilled to introduce two new additions to the ThinkFun Inventor club: The Herbert Brothers!

IMG_6416

This loveable duo behind the new card game WordARound has been creating clever, quirky – and simple – ways to have fun since they were little boys mixing it up in a family of five kids in Southeast Indiana.

In 2009, Dave and Joe Herbert’s passion for film-making took a life-changing turn when their shoestring production of a Super Bowl ad for a Doritos contest won them $1 million in prize money.   But the acclaim didn’t stop there.  The hilarious 30-second commercial “Free Doritos!” hit #1 on USA Today’s annual consumer ranking of Super Bowl ads, taking Madison Avenue by storm and leaving 51 “big-budget advertisers” in its wake.

Released in February 2013, WordARound is recent evidence of the Brothers’ knack for balancing the offbeat with universal appeal.   The game features words in a circle and players race to call them out.  It’s a quick study but surprisingly tough, fueling laughter, frenzied play, and accolades like “instantaneously fun,” “genius” layout and “streamlined elegance.”  And just like their famous ad, the acclaim doesn’t stop there.  Players build focus, reflexes and vocabulary – fitting perfectly with ThinkFun’s repertoire of addictively fun games that sharpen your mind!

Want more inventors? In this post, I shared several photos of our inventors who stopped by to say hello at Toy Fair 2013, and here are the smiling faces of more inventors in 2012!

Giant Rush Hour featured in a new Museum of Play exhibit!

We are so excited to celebrate the grand opening of a new exhibit at the Strong National Museum of Play!  The permanent Game Time exhibit, which opened April 13th, features 4,200 square feet of interactive PLAY experiences for the whole family! 

Featured among the fantastic game experiences is ThinkFun’s Rush Hour – as you’ve never seen it before!

SMP_GT_2098

I love the way this cleverly-designed exhibit encourages the whole family to engage in game play together – particularly wonderful with a game like Rush Hour that is typically played solo.

An exhibit designer at The Strong shared some additional photos of this installation before it opened. Rush Hour seems very comfortable in the limelight, we think she has never looked so lovely!

More on the Game Time exhibit from the Strong’s website:

Your turn! Move like a piece on a giant game board through three centuries of American games, puzzles, and public amusements at Game Time! an original permanent exhibit on the second floor of the National Museum of Play® at The Strong. Feast your eyes on oversized toy props, see rare historic treasures from The Strong’s game and puzzle collections, and jump right in for active hands-on family fun.

The Strong is located in Rochester, NY – if you live in the area or are planning a trip soon, I encourage you to check out the fun. Personally, I think a road trip is in order!

Rush Hour Featured in Scientific American

Scientific American Mind Magazine is dedicated to innovations in brain science. My geeky heart skipped a beat when I opened the new May/June issue… and saw Rush Hour! This iconic ThinkFun logic puzzle was featured in a piece on brain training games that have a proven effect on improving the way children’s brains work.

ScientificAmericanMIND

This article on brain training games for kids describes several products and programs designed to enhance children’s thinking skills – on page 42, it features an image of Rush Hour and describes the work of our friend Sylvia Bunge at UC Berkeley, who used this game and others (including Chocolate Fix) to improve reasoning IQ of students in a low-income community in Oakland, CA

May / June 2013
We are thrilled to continue our work with the Bunge Lab to truly understand ways in which our games shape and improve brains – it is thrilling to be on the forefront of such innovation! This issue is available on newsstands nationwide.

A preview of the article is available here, and the entire issue can be downloaded for a fee.

Cartoon It! used in Occupational Therapy in Puerto Rico

An Occupational Therapist in Puerto Rico recently shared this great feedback on using Cartoon It! with her patients!

Cartoon It - therapy

Sonia reports:

I work as a certified occupational therapy assistant with kids 6, 7, and 12 years old. They loved Cartoon It! I recommend this for children with problems with visual motor integration and with form constancy, although it helps with visual discrimination and visual memory too.

To make it easier since it was their first time, they were allowed to note on the paper the number of the characteristic so they could copy it directly from the board. At first, my patients did some badly arranged drawings. We discussed the problems we were having with the cartoons and how we can make it better. Actually, a kid made a head so small, he had to make the face outside the head.

It’s part of the therapy process to make mistakes and fix them. As the kids continued making the cartoons, the quality escalated to the ones I’m showing you. They can see their progress in the same therapy, so they loved it so much. Hopefully, their writing will become better than before, with the help of your game.

In a 45 minute therapy session, they could do 4-7 cartoons, including giving the instructions and showing the drawings to their friends. Thanks for this awesome game -my patients loved it!

Have you used any games in therapy sessions? I’d love to hear your experiences – which games were used and the skills they targeted!

The Rubber Chickens have Landed!

If you’ve been following my blog over the years, you may have noticed a trend around this time every year… a yellow, rubber, and VERY noisy trend!

It seems fitting that, on the warmest day we’ve had thus far, these Spring Chickens showed up at my doorstep…

photo 1

Thank you Amazon Prime! Never know when a chicken emergency will strike and 2-day shipping will come in handy!

As background, these rubber chickens are given as awards for Best Team Spirit in the Arlington County 5th Grade Math Dice Tournament that happens in May!  Now in it’s 10th year, we can’t wait to celebrate the brainy 5th graders at this year’s competition!

photo 3

While the quest for Math Dice victory means serious competition, over the years the Rubber Chicken spirit award has taken on a life of its own – and teams have gone wild preparing songs and choreographing performances in hopes of taking home one of these little guys.

Want proof? Check out this amazing performance from last year’s competition – set to the tune of “Proud Mary,” these 5th graders were “Rollin’ On a Math Dice!”

As you can see in year’s past, the arrival of the rubber chickens marks the beginning of an exciting month of preparation.  See these past posts celebrating the rubber chickens’ arrival in 2012, and in 2011!