We’ve got INVENTORS. What does YOUR industry have?





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! 



7 thoughts

  1. Thank you all for the wonderful comments! The program went really well and attracted families as well as aspiring game inventors! Good to see there are so many people interested in learning more about inventors and so many youngsters willing to try their hand at game inventing!

  2. Thanks for the great article, Kim. When I broke into the business back in the early 90s, Brian Hersch was the only inventor with enough clout to see his company logo on a game he created. Now forward thinking companies like Educational Insights are putting pictures of inventors and even mini-bios of inventors on their games. Incredible. Like you, I point to the efforts of Mary Couzin with Discover Games and the TAGIE awards as sparking this trend. It’s an exciting time to be in Toyland!

  3. All of us at Educational Insights believe fervently that game inventors are not only worth touting, but their stories may spark the tiny glimmer in the brain of a child. An inspired child will someday invent something unimaginable. Toy and game Inventors like Tim Walsh, Mary Jo Reutter, Bruce Lund, Hank Atkins, Steve Ryan, and others will undoubtedly agree that our end goal is to show parents and children that imagination leads to happiness.

  4. Congratulations, Kim.
    The Chicago Toy & Game Fair and the Young Inventor Challenge also help expand the awareness of inventors to kids and families across the country and beyond. I have no doubt that both events will continue to influence and inspire kids to begin thinking like an inventor now. As time goes by it will be interesting to see how they will carry that experience into adulthood.

  5. Thank you for the callout, Kim!
    Wish I could be in DC and hear your talk. Looking forward to seeing it on video.
    Mattel won three TOTYs for Singamajigs and they gave credit to Ron Magers, the inventor. It was terrific to see/hear. Ron wasn’t there, but he heard about it. It was also terrific to have the TOTYs recognize our Young Inventor Challenge winners – the kids gave Mattel the Most Innovative Toy Award that evening.
    It is wonderful to see inventors being recognized for their work… and if you put a face and a story to a product, sales will increase!

  6. The Lemelson Foundation is great! A friend and I applied for and received a grant from them in college to work on our own innovative product as a Senior Design Project instead of doing one of the regular corporate assigned ones. Now that friend and I run our own business inventing toys. Good luck at your talk, Kim. I’m sure you’ll be great. Thanks for being so supportive of the inventor community!

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