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
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:
After 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:
Each year when I tell friends – especially those with kids – that I’m headed to Toy Fair, the first response is generally, “That sounds AWESOME, how do I get in?!”
Unfortunately for my game-loving buddies, this event is not open to the public. Learning the doors are locked tends to conjure up visions of top-secret toy meetings, tinkering elves, a massive toy workshop inside the Javits Center… the imagination can run wild!
I hope I’m not spoiling the magic by sharing the experience inside the ThinkFun booth…
Welcome to the ThinkFun Booth!
Laser Maze, available in May!
I thought you said no outside visitors?! This brainy bird couldn’t resist playing WordARound during show set-up!
The ThinkFun team, ready to roll!
Sadly no game-making elves were spotted this year, but we were thrilled to visit with some amazing inventors who have created many of our great games… kind of the same thing right?!
A familiar face! ThinkFun co-founder Bill Ritchie poses with his two toddler inventions: Roll & Play and, new for 2013, Hello Sunshine!
Luke Hooper, one of the inventors of Laser Khet, stopped by to pose with the amazing new game he created with ThinkFun – Laser Maze features a REAL (safe) laser, we can’t wait for it to arrive in May!
The Hebert Brothers are the brainy duo who created WordARound, we’re addicted!
A visit from the inventors of UnHinged!
The Costers are the inventors of the iconic Zingo Zinger!
Steve Hayton, Turnstile inventor, visited ThinkFun to say hello!
Yackety Smack inventor Roberto Fraga stopped by to play!
Despite auspicious beginnings (ahem, Snowstorm Nemo, I mean YOU!), 2013 Toy Fair was a fantastic show – The Toy of the Year Awards were a wonderful celebration to begin the festivities, and our 5 new games were so well-received – and we are looking forward to a terrific year!