Mary Kay Russell is the inventor of Kubit2me®, the plush game that gets kids talking. She recently spoke to LoveToKnow BoardGames about her company.
Please tell us about yourself.
I am the inventor of Kubit2me®, and my company also manufactures and distributes our games. I co-founded Kubit2me, Inc. in 2007 with my husband Brad, and since then our passion has been to get kids of all ages to connect with one another by opening up lines of communication while breaking down walls and barriers.
As the mother of four boys, I know all toe well how difficult it can be to get kids to open up, not only about how their day went, but also about important topics that affect their everyday lives. Before Kubit2me, I worked in the telecommunications industry at AT&T for 15 years, until deciding to stay home with my kids. In 2004, while volunteering at my son's after-school book club, the idea for Kubit2me came to me, and I decided to take a risk and do what it took to bring the games to market.
In my free time, I love spending time with my family and friends, taking long walks, reading, sewing, and watching my husband and my boys cheer on their Ohio State Buckeyes!
What prompted you to become a game inventor?
Kubit2me started out as a reading comprehension game that I designed to engage kids in discussions about books. As part of a volunteer-run book club that I developed, a group of kids got together to play the game. Some of the kids were chatty and unreserved, some were bashful and hesitant, some were quiet and restrained, and still others were, well, a little rowdy and rambunctious. The game was unveiled - Kubit2me, a 6" colorful, soft plush cube with embellished denim pockets on each side. The game began as players tossed Kubit2me around the room, pulling cards from its pockets and taking part in what appeared to be spirited, meaningful conversation. Then something wonderful happened! Shy kids were talking, indifferent kids were suddenly engaged. Players couldn't wait for Kubit2me to be tossed their way, as they eagerly shared ideas and listened to one another. As I watched lively communication fill up the room, I decided to create Kubit2me games so that kids of all ages could experience the magic that is communication.
What is unique about your games?
What sets Kubit2me apart from other self-expression games on the market is that Kubit2me is the communications vehicle. What we've found is that kids love combining open and honest self-expression with physical fun. And they are so much more excited and willing to respond to questions coming out of Kubit2me than to questions simply spoken to them by their parents (or teachers or friends)! Kubit2me is the only plush, interactive game on the market today - a fun and fuzzy game that gets parents to connect with their kids and kids to connect with each other - in ways they never thought possible.
Why should kids play games?
Kids want to play games for the fun factor, but they can also learn a lot from them. Playing games is an effective way of teaching children skills that enhance their mental ability, like decision making, sense of logic, memory recall - all by improving the way they learn. And besides teaching basic life lessons like how to be a good loser or a gracious winner, playing games also teaches important social skills like taking turns, openly expressing oneself, and actively listening to others. Combine all of these reasons for playing games, and you've got a winner!
Please tell us about some of your newest games.
Kubit2me has three game editions:
- Lil' Scholars Edition- Teaches young learners basic letter and number skills along with all-important social skills like taking turns and respect for one another.
- Truth or Dare Edition-The hilariously outrageous game of honest truths and crazy (Mom-Approved!) dares, developed by girls and for girls.
- Now You're Talkin' Edition-The icebreaker game that takes communication to a whole new, fun and physical level.
What awards have your games won?
Lil' Scholars Edition was awarded Dr. Toy's 10 Best Socially Responsible Games for 2009, Dr. Toy's 100 Best Children's Products for 2009, and Creative Child's Game of the Year for 2008. Truth or Dare Edition was awarded Creative Child's Preferred Choice for 2008. Now You're Talkin' Edition was awarded Dr. Toy's Best Picks New Products for 2009, and Creative Child's Preferred Choice for 2008.
Where can we purchase your games?
Kubit2me games are available at over 400 specialty toy stores nationwide, as well as through many online retailers including Amazon.