Sherry Martin is a consummate, whose passion is creating games with an educational bent. I was intrigued by Sherry’s journey in the toy industry as well as his thoughts on to game invention. Here is my interview:
Richard: Sherry, you have had quite a journey as a game inventor and entrepreneur. Tell us about yourself.
Sherry: As a boy, I had a vivid imagination; I would always make up stories that would annoy my mother, and she would say to me, “Sherry, how do you produce these tall tales?” Our family would play board games together, especially the Game of Life. When we were playing the game, I would come up with different rules for the game that would irritate my brother. My imagination was always running wild.
I grew up in Los Angeles, California, with two older siblings, a sister, and a brother. As a young boy, I was fascinated with many things, and my mother did her best to keep me involved in many areas. I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout played Little League baseball, ran track in the Junior Olympics at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, and studied music on the piano and drums.
Growing up, I did not realize I could create a game and get paid for doing so. One day I watched a show called the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. In this episode, they were featuring the home of a woman who made her fortune by inventing games. I told myself I develop games; she got all that from creating a game. That evening I was intent on making a game I could bring to market. I stayed up the entire night and created a simple sentence creation game. I was inspired to do a game with an educational emphasis because my mother was a schoolteacher. I also wanted a game that would make you think and challenge the players. The final thing I wanted the game to do was to develop quick thinking. These elements make What is the Sentence? a game that challenges all ages from 7 to 99.
Richard: What are some of the games you have invented?
Sherry: As I mentioned, “What is the Sentence?” was the first game I created. It challenged participants to create sentences using individual letter cards as the beginning of words, putting those words together and making a Sentence based on an action card. For example, if you draw the letters S, B, M, J, A, and D and your action card says to create a sentence with an animal in it, you could make the Sentence, Big Dogs Make Sherry Jump Around. Notice that each word starts with the letters we were given. In the game, you are timed, but if you are unsuccessful in creating a sentence, your opponents can attempt to steal your Sentence. The first person to earn 100 points wins.
The second game I created was a travel version of “What is the Sentence?” The game is played with dice following rules similar to the first game.
My third game is called “Two Ways.” It is a head-to-head strategy game. You play the game by moving “capture” and “block” pieces at the same time, attempting to move all your captured pieces into your capture zone while at the same time moving your block pieces into your opponent’s capture zone. The first player to fill their capture zone with their pieces wins the game.
I call my newest game “What is the Scripture?” It is a take-off on the game “What is the Sentence?” This Bible-based game tests the players’ knowledge of the scriptures. It inspires Bible reading because the more you play, the more you learn.
Richard: The toy industry has a growing but still small community of African-American inventors and entrepreneurs. Though small, there has been a notable success rate. What has your experience been in the toy industry as an African-American man?
Sherry: After creating my first game, I attended the New York Toy Fair, where I exhibited my game for the first time. When I arrived on the first day, it did not cross my mind to think about whether there were other people of color and specifically African Americans participating. After the first day of exhibiting, I noticed very few African Americans attending the show.
I decided to walk the show to see how many other African Americans were exhibiting. What I found was that there were only two other booths that had African Americans exhibiting. That really shocked me. I introduced myself to these exhibitors, and we laughed about being the only ones of our race showing. Over the years, I noticed that the industry had done very little to expose African Americans to the toy business.
I experienced and developed some great relationships with other inventors and retailers. On the other hand, I experienced a lot of prejudice from people in the industry. Sometimes I reached out for advice, and I was surprised that some people would not help me. I am thankful that my enthusiasm did not wane because of this experience. I persevered and kept on going despite some of the obstacles I faced.
One of the things I have done is to encourage individuals who look like me to check out the business.
Richard: What do you find to be the essential elements of a successful game?
Sherry: When I think of a new game, I first write my concept down and search to see if it is already on the market. Any idea for a game can be the next great thing. I encourage anyone working on a new game or product not to diminish or reject their idea before it gets to market. As I said, your game or idea needs to be original. It needs to be simple to understand and easy to play. It also should not take a long time to complete a game. The final element that I believe is required for a successful game is that it should be addictive and cause the players to want to play it repeatedly. My future goals are to continue to create games.
I wrote a children’s book right before COVID hit, so I have not marketed it. I plan to introduce the book to the market soon. The name of the book is “The House and the Doormat.” You can find it on Amazon and www.barnesandnoble.com.
Another project I would like to do is build a manufacturing plant so that I can produce my own games. I have also started a non-profit so that I can assist people of color in developing the skills they need to be in the toy and game business.
Richard: If someone wants to contact you, how should they do so?
Sherry: Anyone who wants to reach me can contact me directly through my email at email@example.com. Elkordy Global Strategies Corp. firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com represents me