Craig Brown is thankful for Jenga

Craig Brown, in his Mail Online article‘ 1000 things to avoid before you die’, says  ‘Thankfully Jenga has made Pick-a-Stick obsolete.

Many of our childhoods, he claims,  were marred by Pick-a-Stick because the game invariably ended in a quarrel between players insisting that a stick was or wasn’t moved.

Happily, the launch of the game Jenga in 1983 meant that there was no need for anyone to play Pick-a-Stick ever again.

Jenga is a marvellous game, consisting of a tower ­constructed from sturdy rectangular building-blocks. Each player in turn removes one block from below and places it on top; the game continues like this until the tower collapses.

The collapse, when it comes, is dramatic, and even rather beautiful, leaving no room for argument. Furthermore, though Jenga is competitive, the shared process of building a tower higher and higher tends to induce a clubbable, all-in-this-together atmosphere among ­players, so that tiffs and tantrums are avoided.


Political Jenga? They’re all playing it!

A Taste of the Cuts to Come

‘The Chancellor’s speech at the Conservative conference in Birmingham on Monday was political Jenga.’ The Motley Fool

Dr Vince swings back to the 60s with his vision for BIS

‘…but for now at least he is a key block in the coalition’s game of political jenga.’ Left Foot Forward

The Looming Political Jenga moment

‘The United States and the State of California are facing looming political Jenga moments.’ Political Vanguard

OLD DOORS

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.com: Women in Business

Excerpt from book review by Lahle Wolfe

About Jenga, Leslie Scott, Published by Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
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

Hurrah for Inventors!

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.

Leslie Scott

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

A Jenga imbalance?

Seeking further examples of Jenga metaphors has taken me to some interesting, some strange and some downright scary sites. I tell you, I’ve discovered some mighty weird ways people use Jenga – both literally and metaphorically.

But I was genuinely intrigued about the novel Jenga metaphor I came across today used in an exchange following an article about the film Krakatoa:East of Java on a blog entitled ‘ Six Mental Illness Myths Hollywood Wants You To Believeby ShawnStruck

…….first comment…..
‘I am not a clinician, but I am a psychologist, and while some of the comments in this article are worthwhile, there’s a lot wrong with it. Simply put, psychology is not a game of Jenga, wherein one crucial block can bring down the entire tower of mental illness. No one factor made the person snap, and shoving one thing back into place won’t make them whole. If it did, this mental illness stuff would be easy.

……..In reply…….
I suppose the analogy here is supposed to imply that mental illness is not like Jenga (rather than psychology). However, the common practice of labeling people ‘imbalanced’ seems at least somewhat grounded in observation. One factor can, in fact, make a person snap. That’s not to say that there aren’t a number of slowly developing and complex underpinnings to any mental illness, but precipitating events are a very real phenomenon.

Jenga metaphors abound

I’m very interested in how we use ( possibly overuse) metaphor to shape our thoughts. It’s a topic I touch upon in About Jenga in the lead up to discussing how Jenga itself has become a metaphor. When I put the game Jenga on the market, I had no idea that it would acquire a whole new meaning and become a metaphor, representing a kind of instability that I assume had never before been encapsulated in one word. Be that as it may, the fact is that, today, Jenga metaphors abound. Chapter 15

I go on to mention quite a comprehensive list of interesting examples I had come across  of Jenga  being used as a metaphor. But new ones keep popping up that I wish I had been able to include at the time.  I came across one such example today:

Writing, especially humor writing, is  a lot like the game Jenga.  You spend a lot of time building up and crafting just the right amount of words, put together in just the right way, all aimed at just the right pay-off, and all it takes is for some yahoo to come along and pull out one block in the wrong way and the whole damn thing comes tumbling down.  So I was a bit worried about whether the editor I would be working with on my book would want to have a lot of input on what I was writing, or whether he or she would take a “hands-off” approach.  Or at least understand my Jenga analogy. How to be a writer: Pick an editor with a sense of humor

Investor’s Business Daily

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.

Jenga creator talks strategy


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)

A Reader’s View

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (10/09)

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.