I had a great time at the 5th annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair
this past weekend. I got up early and drove down to Schaumburg so I could sit in on the two morning panels for the Inventors Forum. Mary Couzin, who runs the whole shebang, met me at the front desk and got me set up. Although we’d never met before, she was as friendly and wonderful as could be. I felt at home right away.
Tim Walsh (creator of Tri-Bond, among other games) moderated both of the inventor panels and did a wonderful job. One of the best parts, though, happened in a back corner of the room. Nicholas, a designer who I met during a past seminar, and his son got inspired by the talk and started designing a new game right in the hall. During the break, they set it up in the back corner and had at it, there on the floor!
Courtesy of Mary, I had lunch with Tim and the rest of the panelists and the other experts from the “Ask an Expert” event, including Mike Hirtle (VP of R&D for Hasbro), Howard Fleischer, Jeffry Breslow of Big Monster Toys, Peggy Brown, and Kim Vandenbroucke.
Afterward, I ran off to the “Ask an Expert” event and did my part. They put us up in a series of tiny offices just off the main convention floor and sent people back to chat with us for 15 minutes at a time. I spoke to a number of incredible people, including a mother with an excellent behavior modification system/game that can take up to six months to “play,” plus folks from Really Neat Stuff and the Party Hard Corps.
As it wrapped up, I ran into Dan Rowen from Playroom Entertainment and caught up for a bit. Then I met with Darren Orange and Darrik Cupps from Reactor 88 Studios. We wandered about the hall for a while and then headed out for a quick bite. After that, I got back in the car and headed home in time to catch the end of Ratatouille with Ann and the kids.
I had a great time at the show, and Mary treated me like a king. The energy among the inventors matched anything I’ve seen. If I can, I’ll be back next year for sure.