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By Nicholas Cravotta, Lead Developer,

Rebecca Bleau, Lead Designer,

BlueMatter Games

You know you’ve got it: the next Trivial Pursuit or Apples to Apples. And you’re willing to do what it takes to license the concept to the right company.

Certainly, tenacity is essential in our business. Sometimes you have to redesign and pitch an idea multiple times before “they” get it. The very first concept we tried to pitch took five years and four reskinnings to find its home and start winning the awards we knew it would. But this paper isn’t about what you need to do to sell that great idea. It’s about what you can do in the meantime.

Consider our friend who has invented an amazing construction toy. He wants this toy to be so great that he has focused all of his development efforts on this single idea for the last twelve years. Another individual we know can see his action figures so clearly that he is not open to any ideas that manufacturers bring to the table. It’s like these ideas are so important to them that they don’t have room for any others. Their vision is so bright, it’s blinding.

There’s a lot to learn about making games and toys, everything from writing rules to discovering new prototyping materials to learning how to navigate the politics and people of this industry. You can’t learn these in a vacuum or even by reading a book. You have to get out there and experience them for yourself.

To put this in perspective, between our first trip to Toy Fair and licensing that initial game idea, we had six other products go to market. We produced over 50 production prototypes and made hundreds of pitches. Hundreds. We also filled eight notebooks with ideas.

It was all these other activities that helped us reposition and tune that first idea. Feedback from toy companies on other ideas showed us where we could improve the gameplay. Failed pitches taught us how to discern and then target the right age group. Cross-pollination between children’s plush, adult strategy games, electronic toys, and clothing products gave us insight into how we could create a product that pitched itself.

The Next Big Thing always starts out as a simple idea. But don’t get stuck on just that one idea. Continue to build your craft. Discover new tools and learn how to use them. Share what you learn with your peers. Don’t get discouraged. And above all, keep inventing.

(November 2012)


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