ARTFAB – A Rising Tide Floats All Boats


Thanks, Richard, for asking me to be a part of your new endeavor! ‘Tis an honor.


As many of you know, I am passionate about the importance of play, promoting our inventors and thinking of ourselves as an entertainment industry, just like in music, books, sports, fashion, food – we all compete for the same dollar. This passion led me to found to help other game inventors after inventing a few games myself and not finding the help I needed; the Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG) to promote play, inventors and our products to the public in the 4th quarter; the Toy and Game Inventor/Industry Conference to help inventors/industry learn and network; the Toy and Game Inventors of the Year Awards to recognize the genius of our inventors (it will one day be televised, if chefs can be celebs, so can our inventors); Games for Funraising (better than overpriced gift wrap!); Games for Educators; and the Games in Education Conference at ChiTAG.


Ambitious? Perhaps, but there is an overriding modus operandi:  A Rising Tide Floats All Boats. ARTFAB. Working together, we can accomplish anything as well as help one another’s individual goals.


I’ve been contacting Time Magazine and other media for years about play and inventors. One of Time’s well-known columnists, Joel Stein, responded to me specifically about why they don’t write about our inventors like they do other industry’s creative talent. He said, “The answer to your question is the same reason no one cares about brilliant plumbers or set designers or poets or almost anything. If I could force people to care about cyclists I'd write about them in Time every week. Sorry.”


Well, it's nothing like being a plumber or cyclist, in which faithful repetition makes you stronger and your contribution to society is small (although very important to the ones who needed the expert plumber). Poets are widely recognized. They even speak at presidential inaugurations. Set designers are recognized at the Academy Awards.


Toy/game design is a little invention, a little art, a little design and a little passion — no two inventions are alike (hopefully).  It's somewhat akin to a mass-market piece of art, which in my opinion is very similar to a book or movie.  They're all a dream or idea put into a form for everyone to enjoy. Some people keep toys from their childhood and hand them down to their children. Some people are toy/game collectors. Toys and games can conjure a memory from childhood. Playing games can raise a child’s IQ and delay dementia and Alzheimer’s. The American Library Association has made getting games into the libraries one of their top four initiatives. Schools are using toys/games in their curriculum. Studies show that kids and animals that do not play when they are young may grow into anxious, socially maladjusted adults.


We need to convince Joel and the world how important our industry is. What are you doing to promote our industry? ARTFAB

6 thoughts

  1. Reisa asked a poignant question: “How do we reach consumers on a budget?” I wonder if we as an industry have been limiting our thinking to marketing to consumers who are ALREADY LOOKING FOR GAMES…
    The “GAME” budget in my house is pretty small (if it even exists). But the QUALITY TIME budget is much higher, and weighs in heavily when it comes to my decision making. Similarly, the ENTERTAINMENT budget, VACATION budget, and EDUCATIONAL budget for my kids all add up to a pretty penny. Hell, games could even be considered a necessary part of home decor in a rec room, den, etc.
    Have we done a good job as an industry in being part of the equation when it comes to these categories outside of our traditional channel? Are we linked hand-in-hand with the educational supply channel? With the home improvement channel? With the vacation industry? (“Once you get to your cabin in your RV, we have an assortment of great games you can buy!”)
    Toys and games are such a critical, memorable part of our psyche across the spectrum of experience as we grow up. Yet when a product gets marketed, it’s smack dab in the middle of a kids’ show on the Disney Channel between the hours of 3-8 p.m.
    So let’s not just market to a consumer looking for a game. Let’s market to a parent / grandparent / friend looking for an experience. Wherever they may be.

  2. Great post, Mary!
    Love your line “Toy/game design is a little invention, a little art, a little design and a little passion”. So true.
    What a fun experience to see kids interacting with inventors this year at ChiTAG. Children need to see that working with your right-brain is just as important as working with your left-brain. The media more often than not portray toy inventors as absent-minded professors. When I got my first toy design job years (and years) ago, my mother said, “I read once that toy inventors are geniuses.” Gotta love mom!
    Looking forward to more posts from you on Richard’s wonderful new toy news site!
    Books, Toys, Etc

  3. Mary, I love how you’ve coined a phrase made famous by John F. Kennedy, and brilliantly made it relevant for today’s toy industry … Great post!
    Mary Kay Russell

  4. I completely agree with you Mary! I’m game inventor and developer, but I also run which is not only a game review website, but it’s also an opportunity for me to educate the public about the brilliant inventors behind their favorite games. A lot of people don’t realize that companies don’t invent games – INVENTORS do! We’re regular people who have an idea (or a couple hundred) that we develop and hopefully license or publish! I also participate in as many “outreach” programs as possible, including the TAGIE conference and library programs like Operation Game Creation that helps wannabe game inventors realize their dreams. Hopefully all of this will encourage more folks to embrace new and exciting board games — maybe even one of mine. ARTFAB!

  5. How true Mary. As an inventor it is exciting to bring your games to the public and see your invention being used.
    The question I have is to find the best ways to get more exposure in front of the consumer as a small company. How can the public learn about your games on a budget? Our games have won several awards and we know that we bring quality games to the public.
    They are in the stores but people don’t know to ask for them.
    All ideas would be good!
    Griddly Games offers family trivia, family strategy, icebreaker party and brain teaser games.

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