This month, ThinkFun was pleased to participate in the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia at the beautiful Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. Our Head of Inventor Relations Tanya Thompson joined in the fun as part of the Mind Trekkers team and shares a fun recap of the week!
Mind Trekkers is an outreach organization for Michigan Tech, and their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-focused booth was part of a larger section of the Jamboree called “The Cloud” or “Technology Quest.”
Scouts from all over the country had fun challenging their minds with our Life-Size Hoppers Brain game! Using our Hoppers Construction Kit, Mind Trekkers taped out a large Hoppers grid on a tarp and displayed multiple challenges. Scouts became the frogs and hopped their way to victory.
One thing was evident, Scouts enjoyed our puzzles!
When traveling, I have an endearing habit (in my opinion, my husband may disagree!) of stopping in every single toy store we pass in search of our games. It is always a thrill to see ThinkFun games all over the world, and I always stop to take photographs and connect with a store employee.
This doesn’t always go over well, particularly the time I spotted some awful Rush Hour knockoffs in Hanoi Vietnam and tried very unsuccessfully to communicate. The message I finally got across was crystal clear, “I am a crazy woman who speaks no Vietnamese and loves hand gestures.”
Far MORE rewarding than seeing our games on shelves overseas are the photos of our games in the hands of kids all over the world! Our distributor in Nigeria recently shared some fantastic photos of Rush Hour, Swish, and Zingo! being played by students!
Last week I shared this photo of Josh, our Product Designer known for his lifelong love of comics and (surprise surprise) TOYS! Josh’s office is fun to visit for many reasons, but his impressive collection of desk toys ranks right up there!
Josh and his desk minions
Fans loved this glimpse behind the scenes, so I thought it’d be fun to share some other playful shots of desks around the office… enjoy!
Our Designer Alicia keeps supplies in this footprint masterpiece by her toddler Penny!
Kirsten in Product Development surrounds her work space with protection in dragon and Wookie form!
Also spotted on Kirsten’s desk… this amazing card sculpture!
Our Designer Nic is in touch with his dark side…
Nic’s got toys close at hand when he needs a break!
Mark in Sales is a huge Caps fan… and very courteous officemate!
Katie, Director of Product Development, has tiny friends (& their skeletons!) close by at all times
A peek at my desk friends… because TWO caped monkeys are better than one!
Do you have any special toys or keepsakes at your desk? Please share!
Last week, a group of ThinkFunners sat around the lunch table talking about (surprise surprise…) their lunches! A fantastic conversation evolved, with folks sharing special foods they had grown up with and unusual taste combinations each preferred. Talk soon turned to condiments… and then to Hot Dogs!
As people shared their toppings of choice, jaws dropped when Juan and Nic (both from Colombia) described the traditional “perro caliente,” a dog loaded with mayo, potato chips, pineapple salsa, cheese… even quail eggs!
Juan shows off an expertly-made perro caliente!
A Hot Dog Feast was in order… and this afternoon was nothing short of spectacular! In addition to the accoutrements for Colombian hot dogs, employees shared their condiments of choice from their own traditions.
Leave it to our Design Team to make such lovely – and informative – signage for the feast! We feasted on dogs smothered in beans, sauerkraut, chili, and LOTS of pickles!
For more photos of our delicious lunch, click here! How do YOU eat a hot dog?!
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:
Coming off the heels of yet another incredible TEDActive experience, I wanted to find a way to bring some of the TED magic back to the office. Last month, I instituted TED Talk Fridays here at ThinkFun, and the response was fantastic!
The format is super simple and agenda-less – I wanted this to be an informal time to gather and get inspired by new ideas. The conversations that organically bubbled up in response to the talks were far more powerful than any prompt I could have planned.
We started off with – who else – the amazing Sir Ken Robinson and his epic 2006 talk on How Schools Kill Creativity. With over 16 million views, this seemed a safe place to begin, and it generated some fantastic discussion about our own school experiences and the directions we may have gone if the system allowed for more creative exploration.
Interested in watching along with us? As our TED Talk Fridays continue, I’ll post links to the 2 videos we watch and will look forward to you joining us virtually – please share your comments or any ideas these videos spark!
Apparently ThinkFun fans love their coffee as much as they love their games!
After I shared this photo on Facebook Monday morning, several folks chimed in right away to let us know they’d also love to start their day with a ThinkFun-fueled smile! Always happy to support our caffeine-loving fans, I’ve set up a giveaway so you can win your very own mug – click here to enter! (starts midnight 5/14 – 5/16)
Monday mornings are a lot perkier since our fun new mugs arrived!
And on a related note, I’ve also started an Instagram account for ThinkFun, featuring more “inside our world” photos from around the office and events we attend. Please follow us at ThinkFunGames!
How do you wake your brain up in the morning? Does your secret weapon come in a mug or another form?!
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!
This loveable duo behind the new card game WordARoundhas 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!
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!
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!