Researching, writing and publishing my first book, About Jenga, has opened both new and old doors. Some so old and so long unused that I had assumed their locks & hinges rusted tight and rendered useless.
So it has been with considerable surprise, and great pleasure, that About Jenga seems to have prised open so many creaky old doors into my past.
For example; as a result of coming across the book, John Durham of the Camphill Village Trust has made contact, and will be coming to visit me later this month. In 1982, then living and working in Camphill’s Botton Village, John was instrumental in manufacturing the first ever sets of Jenga. John and I had continued to bump into each other for many years at gift fairs, (he with Camphill’s range of wooden toys and I with Oxford Games Ltd) long after Hasbro had acquired the license to publish Jenga. But since Lagoon Games took over the Oxford Games Collection in ’99, I had not been to a gift fair in the UK until this year. And, in the lazy way we all allow these things happen, I had lost contact with John.
I’m thrilled that he has made the effort to push open that old door.
And I’m delighted, too, that as a result of About Jenga, I have reconnected with other old friends, Peter & Tessa Sulston. As I mention in the book, Peter, then working for Oxfam, introduced me to Camphill.
Now running their own art college in Cornwall, the Callington School of Art , I hope to drop in on the Sulstons later this year on my way down to visit my daughter, now at art college in Falmouth.
About Jenga, by Leslie Scott, is a great holiday gift book for game lovers and budding entrepreneurs.
Greenleaf Book Group, LLCStumped for a Christmas gift your your boss or co-worker? About Jenga: The Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Household Name is a great and affordable gift idea.
Written by Leslie Scott, the woman who invented the game, About Jenga is an interesting memoir nestled in the story behind the creation of Jenga. But her book also offers charming and entertaining anecdotal and experiential insights into the world of business making it a worthwhile and inspirational read for aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs.
Who Would Like This Book
Any Jenga lover interested in learning more about the origins of the game will find enough gossipy and anecdotal details to make the book enjoyable. The book puts to rest any suggestion that Scott stole the idea for Jenga from African customs or that the game had its origins in some other ancient culture. Scott briefly compares her game to others and presents enough historical data to prove her case.
The book will also appeal to any aspiring entrepreneur (especially women) who have an interest in inventing, the trademark process, and in laughing while reading a book that cheerfully delivers some serious business lessons learned the hard way.
Full Review on About.com, which is part of the New York Times Company
Excerpts from the PLAY STUFF blog of the Strong National Museum of Play
Toy and game inventors deserve their time in the spotlight, according to the annual TAGIE (Toy and Game Inventors Expo) Awards. Bestselling books and hit songs earn authors and singers publicity as well as financial rewards. But create a million-selling toy or game and practically no one knows your name. The TAGIE Awards honor the people behind the playthings, celebrating their creations and the fun they’ve brought to our lives.
A few weeks ago, Nic Ricketts, the museum’s games curator, and I traveled to Chicago to attend the second annual TAGIE Award dinner and explore the world of toy and game inventors. Our first stop was the design studio of Lund and Company Invention. The firm and its founder, Bruce Lund, are probably best known for TMX Elmo, but they’ve created dozens of other fun and famous playthings as well. We felt honored to get a peek behind the scenes.
From there, we made our way to Navy Pier where Nic and I appeared as part of TAGIE’s two-day seminar for new toy and game inventors. We were excited to share information about Strong National Museum of Play with a group of eager inventors and to learn firsthand about their creations. Nic’s high point for the afternoon was meeting Leslie Scott, the creator of Jenga, who was promoting her new book and playing Jenga with her fans.
by Chris Bensch, Vice President for Collections at the Strong National Museum of Play
Having read ‘About Jenga’, Victor Reklaitis interviewed me a few weeks ago when I was in Los Angeles for a book signing event at Chevaliers’ Books, hosted by Bob Peirce, Chairman of BritWeek.
I thoroughly enjoyed Victor’s always friendly, but challenging interview. And I really appreciate the resultant IBD article ‘Leslie Scott Raised Her Game’, primarily because Victor went to the trouble of interviewing and quoting two key figures in the story of Jenga’s success; Alan Hassenfeld of Hasbro, and Hal Ross, the toy expert’s expert.
Q. Some players use the “tap method” to move the blocks out of place while players like the “slow slide and pull” trick. Which do you suggest?
A. I use both techniques, depending on the circumstances. I also resort to the ‘squeeze and shift’ move when things get desperate. If the central block has been removed from a layer, it is possible to squeeze the remaining two outer blocks together, thus shifting the tower so that the layers above are now balancing on just one of the blocks, leaving one block free to remove. (Hard to explain, easier to demonstrate)
Extract from an email Q & A exchange with Chris Illuminati (I never did get around to asking him if this is his real name or just a nom de keyboard?) about Jenga strategy, which gave rise to an article in phillyburbs.com (click for full article, and more Jenga tips)
About Jenga: The Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Household Name
I have to start this review with a confession. I had never heard of Jenga before I started reading Leslie Scott’s “About Jenga,” so I had no real idea what to expect. Even after reading the first few pages, I still did not know exactly what kind of a game Ms. Scott was talking about, yet by that point it simply did not matter any more. I was enthralled by the unfolding story and thoroughly entertained throughout it.
If I had to classify “About Jenga,” I would find it really hard to decide whether to call it a memoir, a business manual, a story of a journey or simply a grandly entertaining and truly intriguing tale of a brilliant mind. The account of one woman’s idea about a new, outwardly very simple, yet greatly addictive game and the path this idea took was simply fascinating. It mattered little whether Ms. Scott was talking directly about Jenga or about any of thereto sometimes loosely connected ideas, events and influences – I wanted to know more. I found myself running to my computer to delve deeper into some of the facts and ideas she mentioned in her book, I found myself stopping and thinking, “Oh, that’s why!” and more often than not, I simply found myself admiring the brilliant and witty writing style.
English by definition, but born and raised in Africa, Leslie Scott developed a challenging and very competitive game of Jenga from some simple wooden blocks that were made for her family while they were still living in Africa. Her quest to market and properly protect her invention was not easy and straightforward, and anybody trying to launch a new idea or a new product could greatly benefit from reading “About Jenga.” Ms. Scott’s narrative deftly presents a great number of valuable insights into business concepts and practices, but does not simply stop there. The parts that I found particularly astute were those dealing with protection of intellectual property and the intricacies of branding.
“About Jenga” by Leslie Scott is a book that can and should be enjoyed on many levels. If you simply read it as an account of a beguiling mission to profitably market an idea, I am convinced you will enjoy it greatly. If you take it as a handy manual on how to proceed with your business venture, it should help you avoid countless snares that one usually encounters while doing that. Even if you have no interest whatsoever in the business side of it, I am certain that the ease and grace with which Ms. Scott writes will enchant and delight you. Fresh, engaging and endlessly intellectually stimulating, this book will without a doubt delight a vast circle of very different readers.