Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Surfing for Games

The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook contains many suggestions by top toy sages on how best to keep up with industry trends. One common tip repeated by these in-the-know toy people was, "get out into retail frequently and see what's on the shelves." It's all there; playthings with latest entertainment licenses, product displayed by categories, attractive merchandising and packaging, marketers who dominate space, and a mix of new toys and games with the classics.

Any itinerary to Toyland's retail aisles should obviously include regular stops at Walmart, Target, Kmart and TRU. To be all inclusive, specialty retailers are a must stop too since unique and likely higher end playthings, often ignored by big box outlets, populate the aisles.

Add to brick and mortar visits, quality time surfing the wonder and convenience of internet websites in search of industry happenings. In the 3rd edition of the Handbook, we concocted a new section called the Websitary (coined by the contraction of website and glossary). It is a listing of websites we felt, at the time of publication, would likely be of interest to toy people. As an e-book, we were able to make these sites interactive.

Today, digital toy industry info abounds on the computer. If your thing is games, check out thegameaisle.com The site is maintained by inventor and active blogger, Kim Vandenbroucke who posts frequent reviews of games new to the market. In her blogging, Kim uses a special mix of skills from her industrial design training, experiences at a former Chicago invention house, and independent creative work from her design business, Brainy Chick. kimvandenbroucke.com.

Says Kim, "It behooves toy people to know what the competition is up to, what looks to be doing well, and what has flopped. In the seven years I've been blogging, the game arena has changed so much! Paying close attention to the market has been a fun adventure for me. I've played tons of games. I'd like to think blogging to the industry has made me better at designing toys and games while shining a light on the market for my audience"

Another blog that offers a wealth of information on the game side is Purple Pawn. purplepawn.com
The site's stated mission reflects the commitment to the industry's game segment. "Purple pawn is a site about life, as seen through the prism of games." And by admission of Executive Editor, David A. Miller and his staff, "Purple Pawn covers everything cool, sick, famous. infamous, down and dirty, up and coming, cultural, or just plain weird in the world of people and analog games". Those promises sound to me as though Purple Pawn should be another regular blog stop in getting a pulse on the latest games populating Toyland.

Sir Frances Bacon wasn't a toy guy, but he is attributed to have said, "Knowledge is power". Enjoy building your industry knowledge through all those store visits  and by surfing the web.