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Interview with Brian Hersch, Inventor of Taboo

Brian Hersch. Co-Owner Hersch Games. Inventor of Taboo, Midnight Outburst and others.

Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?

It was a complete fluke. I was a founder of a real estate development company who just happened to be a really good Trivial Pursuit player when it first came out. Some too-easily-impressed friend commented that I was creative and could probably invent a game. I did what a business-guy does; I had a market research report done about party games and Trivial Pursuit. The results pointed to an entirely alternate universe, and I became a game inventor.

What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?

I love the current counter trend away from all-things-digital. It’s spurred a huge return to social interaction game play, and let’s face it, that has always been my sweet spot.

What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?

Know how to “sell” your idea. And know when to stop “selling.” You have to be passionate and enthusiastic if you want someone else to get caught up in the fun you feel or see. If you aren’t, why should they be? But you also have to be able to stop flogging if the listener has shown you reasons it doesn’t work (or at least doesn’t work for them.)

What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?

I delivered a brand new garbage truck by driving it from Los Angeles to Detroit in four days. Along the way I wiped-out the over-hang on a highway gas station when a drunk guy kept waving me in. I then had two accidents along the way. And finally got there in time to find out I was standing in the worst part of the city and I had to hide inside the garbage bin part of the truck until the sanitation yard foreman showed up with a cop! True story.

What inspires you?

Memories of hiding in a garbage truck in Detroit

Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?

I grew up on the mean streets of West Los Angeles. It was so tough some days you had to wear a sweater to school to survive a 60 degree winter freeze.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

Never ask friends or family what they think of your new game. God bless them. They lie! They’re so impressed you are doing anything they cannot say enough good things. Dirty, rotten liars.

What do you read every day, and why?

Each morning starts with the President’s Risk Assessment report. I figure he’s not reading it, somebody should.

How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?

I get in the car and just drive. I look for a world that is outside my own. And thankfully my creative nature always kicks in. Although once I made it all the way to Altoona before it did.

Do you play any musical instruments?

If so, which one(s)? I was a drummer while my hair was growing long. Then I cut it and apparently lost my cool.

What’s your favorite cereal?

Any of the sweetened ones that come in a little miniature sample box. BTW, they no longer make those little boxes. That stuff is coming in little bags now. Huge disappointment to us culinary snobs.

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