Seattle board game company taps into pop culture
Despite the fact that Americans are tech obsessed, good old analog board games are super hot right now. According to a toy and game analyst at Euromonitor International, 5,000 new board games were released in the US in 2016. One Seattle board game company, Forrest-Pruzan Creative, has developed about 350 board games in the past 18 years.
“Some of the games we’ve done most recently: ‘Bob Ross: The Art of Chill;’ ‘Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle,'” said Jessica Aceti, vice president of business development and marketing at Forrest-Pruzan.
“We have several different party games that you can find if you’re walking down the aisle at Target,” she said. “We have a game called ‘Donner Dinner Party’ that’s a social deduction game, obviously based on the Donner Party.”
Aceti is a die hard game lover with more than 300 board games at home.
“My husband also works here, he’s a game designer,” she said. “So as you can imagine we’re pretty competitive with one another. We play games at home, often. We actually have a book where we keep all the wins and the losses.”
A Seattle board game company
Forrest-Pruzan conceptualizes and develops everything from preschool games to adult party games. Sometimes the ideas start in-house and they seek out a licensing agreement, and sometimes companies like Disney, Fox or Universal come to them with a license, wanting a game.
“When we’re creating a game we’ll have some kind of kernel of a trend or maybe there’s a license that we like and we’ll concept on that,” Aceti said. “We’re pretty collaborative so we do that as a group. We will then create a prototype and we’ll test that with our database of play testers. If we think that we’re on to something, it will keep moving forward with the process. We will then start thinking of component design and package design and what this thing will actually look like on the shelf. We will then test the game again and we’ll create the rules and we’ll test the rules. From there we are handing off final factory ready files to the publisher. They will manufacture the game and distribute it and market it.”
A big component of the process is play testing. Kids, adults and families are brought in to test the games they’re working on, and given pizza and snacks to make it feel like a Friday night game night at home.
“We have a room that is set up kind of like a family room that you might play games in,” said vice president of product development, Deirdre Cross. “There’s a one way glass that looks into it and behind the glass are game makers and producers who can sit and observe the play test without interfering. You might be playing something and there might be 10 people sitting behind the glass watching what you’re doing and taking notes on their various parts of the project. Even the illustrators or graphic designers might be watching to see if their part of the project is working.”
Creating a game
Hyper creative and collaborative, everyone is constantly brainstorming game ideas and documenting them in a shared file.
“We have this whole section called ‘It will never work,'” Cross said. “Completely ridiculous, insane ideas that ‘will never work.’ But it’s kind of funny because if you look through those ideas, I think there are games on there that have probably made it to market and have actually done pretty well.”
“In our, ‘That will never work’ category we’ll occasionally see that other publishers will come out with something very similar,” she said. “We’re like, ‘Oh man, I guess we were wrong! It actually did work!’ So we do revisit those because what seemed like a crazy idea is now brilliant. Look where the market is right now, we’re right on top of it.”
Forrest-Pruzan most recently created the very first “Choose Your Own Adventure” game, based on the popular books and that’s coming out very soon. Their new Bob Ross game is flying off shelves.
To register as a play tester, click here.