In just about a week and a half I will be speaking at the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center on my life as an inventor. It’s part of their “Innovative Lives” series where they bring in different types of inventors to talk about what influenced them in their childhood, how they ended up becoming an inventor and what their life is like now. It’s a family-oriented event and the goal is to change the public’s perception on who inventors are. I guess if you say “inventor” most people think of Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin or Leonardo da Vinci – maybe they dig a little deeper and go for Cyrus McCormick (Mechanical Reaper) or Eli Whitney (Cotton Gin). But what about the Ruth Wakefields of the world? (She invented the chocolate chip cookie!) Or the Ruth Handlers? (Inventor of Barbie) Inventors are all around us, especially in this industry, and I applaud the Smithsonian for putting together such an interesting ongoing series! Just wished I lived a little closer so I could go to all of them!
Truthfully, I’m beyond flattered that I’ve been asked and am really looking forward to this opportunity to talk about the industry that I adore being apart of! I think our industry is extremely unique because we have so many independent inventors, small invention groups and large invention firms creating concepts on spec for companies big and small. Where else do you see that?
In the past few years I’ve seen a steady change in inventor visibility. I’ve been writing about inventors on The Game Aisle for couple years and Mary Couzin has been hosting the Toy and Game Inventor Awards – which includes a lifetime achievement award – for a couple years too. A few years ago Educational Insights started putting the inventor’s picture on the box and other companies include bios inside the box or inventors names on the box. Mindware, Educational Insights and Out of the Box are asking inventors to sign and explain games at their booth during fairs. Inventors are having game signings at bookstores and game stores across the country. I even heard that someone talked about the inventor of a product during the TOTY awards!! Slowly, we are embracing this amazing thing that makes our industry so different and I think it’s wonderful!