Al Waller is the CEO of the board game publishing company Out of the Box. He recently shared some insight about board games with LoveToKnow.
Please tell us about yourself and your company, Out of the Box Publishing.
Since 1998, Out of the Box Publishing has been a leader in the Business of Fun! Headquartered in Dodgeville, WI, Out of the Box produces a gamut of games. From single-player to party games, from quick and light games to engaging strategy games, Out of the Box games are designed to please the entire family. Fun has always been our mission, and happiness can be found….right Out of the Box!
The Out of the Box mission is to increase the happiness factor of the planet. Yes, we know this sounds a bit corny, but what else would you expect from a game company that calls itself Out of the Box? We take our jobs very seriously though, because we know great board games can really make a difference. When we evaluate new games to publish, the most import ingredient for us is what we call the Fun Factor! Some of our games are educational, some are entertaining and some games are challenging. But, a game does not pass the OTB Fun Factor test will not make it into our game line!
For myself, I am happily married with five children. Two are in college and we have three teenage girls at home. My family and friends are very supportive of our game business, and they help out by teaching games at tradeshows, video demonstrations and testing out new game concepts. I feel I have one of the best jobs possible, as I get to help bring new games into the world and play everyday!
What inspired you to get involved in the board game business?
I consider myself to be a serial entrepreneur. A few years back, I left a successful corporation that I helped start and sell to a fortune 500 company. My next venture was to introduce a game I co-created. It was a new version of Chess that I called Chester. I showed my new game to a friend who was a real game enthusiast, and he played it with his family. About a month later, he came back with the bad news. The game was not that much fun, and he suggested that I not waste my life savings on it. He told me about a game he had developed that was more appealing, and asked if I would like to start a company to sell it with him. I was so happy to be out of the corporate box that I was willing to give it a try. Next he said, "Out of the Box" that would make a great name for a game company!
I also saw this new game business as a great opportunity to connect with my kids in the years to come. Looking back, we have made many memories over the years, and each child has been involved with the business in some way or another. The game business has brought me and my family much happiness.
What seems to be the going trend for new board games?
When we started this business in 1998, most of the games on the market were based on a previous time period when families had several hours to play. Our model is to create new games that can be learned in under 5 minutes and be played in 20 - 30 minutes. We feel this new model for game design fits our fast paced society. We also price all our games between $10 - $25 so they are affordable and offer great replay value for many years of enjoyment. We believe this new game design model is really going with the flow of the current trend as our sales continue to grow year after year!
==What attributes make a new board game a succes
There is not one game that fits everyone's taste; however, we do try to design games that appeal to the widest audience possible. For example we have a line of 'party games that appeal to groups of 4-10 people, and these games are perfect for get-togethers with families and friends. We have a line of engaging games that are great for 2-4 players who like more strategy based games, and we have a line of quick games that are fast and portable card games and puzzles. All of our games are family friendly, so you never have to worry about inappropriate content. We also believe games should have an educational component, and many of our games are used by educators nationwide. Bringing games into the classroom is great because the students think they are getting some time off from class, when they are secretly learning all kinds of new things.
What are some new board games that you could recommend to our readers?
As you might imagine I am a bit biased towards our game line, so I am hoping your readers that want to learn more about Out of the Box games will check out our website at Out of the Box. Our current best sellers are Backseat Drawing, Ninja Versus Ninja, The 10 Days Series, Rock and MyWord. The game I helped work on that most people recognize is the game Apples to Apples. In 2007 we sold this game to Mattel; however, it is really an excellent game that I still highly recommend.
What other information would you like to share about your company and/or other games?
If you have teachers, homeschoolers or librarians that are reading this interview, I would really like them to be aware of our site. One of our goals is to provide teachers with ideas for classroom activities as they tie into the current educational standards. As you might be able to tell we like teachers, and we especially like teachers that like to play games!
For more information on this great company, visit Out of the Box.