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Game On!

Game-makers are definitely not sleeping in Seattle.

By Nichole L. Torres • Apr 1, 2004

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Seattle, long the coffeehouse hometown of the ultrahip, is alsohome to some of the hottest board games. Entrepreneurs have pickedup the torch lit by Seattle-based games like Pictionary and TrivialPursuit. Is there something in the air that inspires gamecreativity? "Seattle is a magnet for smaller companies,"says Jonathan Albin, marketing director of The Game ManufacturersAssociation. Even VCs are taking notice.

  • Cranium Inc., makersof Cranium:
  • Founders Richard Tait, 40, and WhitAlexander, 42, got their start in 1998, and their game became acultural phenomenon among the Starbucks crowd-it's sold 3.5million copies as of December 2003. Named "Game of theYear" by the Toy Industry Association (TIA) in 2001, Craniuminvites players to compete at 14 different activities-fromsketching to spelling backward. They've recently raised $21million in venture capital to expand into 20 international marketsand create new games for adults, families and children. Successfulwith a children's line (Cranium Cadoo was "Game of theYear" in 2002), Tait notes Seattle "has always been apioneering market." With cool weather and emphasis on family,says Tait, "you have a city with a hotbed of gamingproductivity."
  • Screenlife LLC, makersof Scene It?:
  • Dave Long, 42, and Craig Kinzer, 47,started their company in 2001. At a 1992 Halloween party, Long cameup with the idea of showing horror movie clips to guests; the teamguessing the correct movie title wins. It was a hit, but thelimitations of VHS technology made it hard to go further. When Longbought a DVD player in 2000, he realized it was possible to watchclips in a nonlinear way. Securing licensing rights from moviestudios was priority No. 1. They partnered with Mattel todistribute the board/DVD game-which was in 8,500 stores in 2003-andraised $10 million in venture capital to distribute the gameworldwide. "Our [annual] flight to the Toy Fair in New YorkCity [a TIA event] is filled with [Seattle] game companies.There's camaraderie-it's great to get together witheverybody."

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