Glen Ellyn native invents the games you play
Ever have an idea for a great game?
Kim Vandenbroucke has them all the time. The 32-year-old Glen Ellyn native works as a game inventor, and has created dozens of well-known games and toys, including "Scattergories Categories," "Cranium Party Playoff," and "High-Low RACK-O."
She was one of dozens of game inventors on hand during last weekend's Chicago Toy & Game Fair, where she talked about her love of games, independent toy stores and the challenge of constantly thinking up new game ideas in the small but highly competitive industry.
A star volleyball player at Glenbard South High School, Vandenbroucke remembers playing games like "Pizza Party, "Mall Madness" and "Careers" as a kid. Then earning an industrial design degree from University of Illinois, she "on a whim" pitched a game idea to Marvin/Glass Design. Not only did they buy it, they hired her. The board game was called "Cover to Cover," a magazine scavenger hunt for tween girls.
Vandenbroucke went on to invent dozens of games for toy giants like Hasbro, Learning Curve, Mattel and Winning Moves. She's a fan of small toy stores, since they pick up the smaller, more creative toys, rather than the big-name brands and characters.
"We all have Monopoly. Go out there and try something new. The best way to find a game is through word-of-mouth from friends," said Vandenbroucke, who now lives in Chicago.
And if you have an idea for a game, she recommends:
• Go to toy and game conventions and meet the companies' inventor relations executives.
• Find an agent to help shop your game or toy around.
• Certain companies will allow you to submit ideas directly through their website. She recommends making a "sell sheet" rather than a prototype, which can be cost prohibitive.
"It has to be fun. You have to want to play again when you're done. A lot of people don't get that," she said. "Plus, the game you invent has to fit with the right company, the right economy, the right niche."
For more on Vandenbroucke, go to www.kimvandenbroucke.com.