Bringing Families Together: Interview with Gail DeGiulio

Gail DeGiulio discusses bringing families together through games.

Gail DeGiulio is the co-founder of SimplyFun. She offers some great insight and advice about bringing families together through games.

Please tell us a little about yourself and your company.

I co-founded SimplyFun in 2004 with Matt Molen and Jeremy Young. I am very passionate about our mission at SimplyFun which is to promote the importance of play as essential to the health and well being of kids and adults. Before SimplyFun, I had spent over 15 years in technology marketing at Microsoft and Toshiba. In 1996 I became hooked on games, and the rest is history. At SimplyFun, all the "Funsters" are committed each and every day to changing our world through face to face, wholesome play. In my spare time, I enjoy most spending time with my family, hiking, snorkeling, reading, and I love to travel. My daughter and I are huge fans of women's basketball too.

How can board games bring families together?

How can they not?! Games of any kind provide the perfect setting for families to communicate with each other, face to face, in a fun, interactive and safe setting. Plato said you learn more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation. This really is true. You can learn so much about children, friends and other family members' personality, likes and character from playing a game together.

What are some popular family games that your company makes?

Our most popular games have won numerous industry and parenting awards. They include: Eye to Eye™, Sneaks™, Linkity™, Walk the Dogs™, Cahootz™ and Take Your Pick™. Each of these games emphasizes multi-generational play and fun. Anyone can have a great time. We also have a popular game called Liebrary, which features 350 book titles, that was developed by Daryl Hannah.

For what ages are these games designed?

Our games are perfect for ages 3 to 103. All of our games are designed to be simple to learn and fun to play. Each takes less than 1-3 minutes to learn the rules, and less than 30 minutes to play one or several rounds of the game.

How can parents encourage healthy competition among family members?

The saying "it's not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game" is so true. At SimplyFun we have developed our games to mirror a European play pattern. While all of our games have a winner at the end, the play pattern is such that each player has more fun playing, with less emphasis on winning. Healthy competition starts with role modeling as an adult to other family members, particularly children. Have fun, and do not focus on the outcome too seriously. Emphasize good sportsmanship by acknowledging the winner with "Congratulations! Now let's set it up and play again", as this will encourage a positive experience for everyone.

What lessons can be learned while playing family board games?

Card, board, strategy, word, party and other types of games have numerous benefits. They include cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that are essential for kids as they mature into adulthood. When you play any game, you are practicing and teaching critical life skills including:

  • to win and lose gracefully
  • sharing
  • practical decision making
  • risk and reward
  • conflict resolution
  • negotiating

Games provide significant academic and enrichment lessons from early learning readiness of reading and mathematics to sequencing, spatial relationship, manual dexterity, memory, creativity, and higher reasoning.

What are some tips for starting a family game night?

The best way to start a family game night is to build it into your weekly schedule. To create a family tradition that you can pass on for generations. It all starts with a commitment to just do it.

  • Start by setting aside one night each week for 30 minutes to play games.
  • Each week have one family member choose the game. No whining; everyone needs to participate. At our house, it's Sunday night. The kids get ready for school, and we have set aside 8pm-8:30pm.
  • Also, be sure to capture your memories of that night. At SimplyFun each of our games comes with a FUN Memories booklet where we ask you to snap a picture, place it on the cover, and then inside record when you played that game and a favorite memory.

Do you have any other tips or advice you'd like to share with our readers?

Spend 30 minutes a day with your kids and family dedicated to non-electronic, face to face time. Play with each one of your children individually as well. The memories you start today will truly last a lifetime.

Where can we purchase the games and read more about your company?

SimplyFun games and other play products can only be found at a SimplyFun home party or online at SimplyFun.com. That's right, our award winning games are not available in any retail store. We have a nationwide sales force of independent business owners who will -- in the comfort of your own home -- demonstrate all of our great games. You get to try before you buy. How great is that! To learn more about SimplyFun games and the company, we invite you visit our website at SimplyFun.com.

Bringing Families Together: Interview with Gail DeGiulio