Category: Blue Orange Staff

Gen Con 2014

Gen Con 2014

For the first time, I attended the annual Gen Con 2014 convention which is America’s largest “table top” focused convention (with more than 60,000 attendees every year).  “The best 4 days in gaming” is the slogan, and it certainly lives up to the hype.  The halls are flooded with people all gathered together to celebrate gaming culture in all its forms.

Gen Con crowd
Gen Con crowd

It’s not just board games. It is also the larger “table top” community, which includes Role Playing Games (like Dungeons & Dragons and Shadowrun) as well as miniature games (such as Warhammer and War Machine). There is even a costume parade, where people dress up as their favorite characters. Other notable events are “Card Halla” a life size kingdom of towers built entirely out of playing cards. That is then crushed by objects dropped by con attendees from the floor above.

I spent most of my time in the exhibit hall, playing Blue Orange Games with our community of fans in the Family Pavilion. I got to see many of the friends that I have made at New York Toy Fair and Origins Game Fair earlier this year. I also got to meet several internationally acclaimed game designers, Bruno Cathala, Bruno Faidutti, and Charles Chevallier — all of whom have games coming out for Blue Orange next year. Of course many know that Bruno Cathala already released 2 games for us this year (Niya and Longhorn).

Bruno Cathala
Bruno Cathala

I had the pleasure to meet several of the lovely people from our community of reviewers, that prior to Gen Con I had only communicated with on the internet.

Sandy Zimmerman and her 2 “geeklings” from Adventures With My Geeklings.  Always nice to meet our biggest fans, especially when they are 2 lil’ gamer cuties! Their favorite games from the con? Our giant version of Pengoloo and our new 2014 game Aztack. You can check out more of their experience on their blog here.

Forrest Bower is the eccentric YouTube reviewer who helped build up hype for our wildly popular game BraveRats. It was great to meet him, as he is one of my favorite voices in the community. His passion for games shines through all of his videos, and he and his family are huge supporters of our games! He was kind enough to do several videos with me of our new games.  You can check them out here:  Doodle QuestLonghorn and Niya.

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Forest Bower interviewing me

I got to meet Dan (The Game Boy Geek) and Zee Garcia, both from the illustrious Dice Tower network of reviewers, who for many gamers are THE go to source for information on our games.

I had the chance to hang out with my friends in the Dice Hate Me / Geek Allstar collective after hours. They are a rowdy bunch of gamers mostly based in the North Carolina area who have a passion for innovative game design and clean-playing games with dirty tactics. Their podcasts are a great way to keep in touch with the pulse of the gaming scene and their “the state of games” podcast is in my opinion the best on air. Needless to say, it was a pleasure to see what the “cool kids” of board games were playing at the con.

My favorite game of the con, was the Korean smash hit “Coconuts” (distributed in America by Mayday Games). One of the purest fun experiences I’ve had in a while. And since the con, I have played it dozens of times. In Coconuts, players try to shoot rubber coconut pellets into big plastic cups, using adorable plastic spring-loaded monkeys. Pure, simple, chaotic fun.

The highlight of the show for me was getting to meet game inventor Charles Chevallier.  He taught me how to play his new game Wakanda, coming out for Blue Orange in 2015. He also graciously lost a game to me which means I got the joy of beating a man at his own game! Of course I had to capture the moment of triumph:

Chevallier
Charles Chevallier

Gen Con was also an opportunity for me to play with prototypes from designers (some of whom were friends I made at other cons, other of whom were new). I brought back many great ideas that we will be testing out with our community of family testers in the months to come.

New Spot it! Unveiled at Annual SF Giants Event

New Spot it! Unveiled at Annual SF Giants Event

Blue Orange Games hosted its annual Giants Event this past weekend. We invited all of our Bay Area retailers to enjoy a night of games, food, drinks, and baseball…and most importantly—to unveil a new Spot it! game!

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The office slowly turned into a party space with games on every table, lots of snacks, and a rotating hot dog machine. Each table offered seating for guests, as well as many of our favorite Blue Orange Games. Toy store owners and workers were able to enjoy playing new games, such as Battle Sheep, Aztack, and Niya; while enjoying classics, such as Spot it! and Gobblet. The competition became intense when co-workers challenged each other to a game…which always followed with several rematches.

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Guests were also introduced to Blue Orange’s Spot it! San Francisco Giants edition. This Spot it! features images from all of your favorite sites and memories at and around AT&T Park. Each attendee was asked to grab a Spot it! San Francisco Giants edition Ice Breaker pin to get the party started. This ice breaker pin consists of a Spot it! card to wear on your shirt, you then go around to other guests to try and seek your match! To learn more about creating an Ice Breaker pin for your next party, keep your eye out for upcoming posts on our blog, Facebook, & Pinterest.

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Toy store guests walked into the world of Blue Orange and were able to connect with many Blue Orange workers and the atmosphere in which we work. Upon entering, guests checked in and received a ticket to the Giants game, as well as a chance to enter into a drawing. The drawing consisted of many Giants themed prizes—Giants flag, bobble head, hats, & best of all two tickets to the Virgin Mobile Suites. Drawing winners were announced toward the end of the event and headed to the ballpark!

We were excited to feature a photo booth for our Blue Orange team and guests to have some more fun. The photo booth consisted of a fun backdrop and many crazy props to create a fun and creative picture! Stores gathered their whole crew to squeeze into one picture and strike a pose.

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Once 7:15 hit, it was game time. The event moved down to AT&T Park to enjoy a beautiful night of baseball in San Francisco. This annual event is always a great way for Blue Orange to connect with their retailers and to appreciate them. We would like to thank all of those who attended our event, and to those who could not make it—we hope to see you next year!

Look for Spot it! San Francisco Giants edition coming your way soon. Go Giants!

Blue Orange goes to Camp

Blue Orange goes to Camp

Blue Orange Games is busy this summer giving kids even more chances for fun at their camps.  Samantha is this summer’s intern and has traveled around the San Francisco Bay Area to host game days at local summer camps.  Read about her experiences as Blue Orange’s Brand Ambassador.

What Is A Camp Game Day?

By Samantha Fry

I was originally drawn to this position because it would allow me to gain experience in the field of marketing as well as build on my experience in childcare.  A camp game day consists of a taking a bunch of our games to camp and engaging kids in board/card game play.  The ages at the camps vary but we are able to accommodate kids of all ages from Pengoloo to BraveRats.  Sometimes the kids are lucky to play with games that haven’t hit the store shelves!

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These young campers are playing Doodle Quest

Long time camp favorites are Pengoloo, Gobblet Gobblers, and Fastrack.  Luckily, older campers were also able to try out some of our newest strategy games such as Aztack, Battle Sheep, and Niya!

A new favorite with the campers has been our new game Spot It! Splash. It’s just like the original Spot It! but has a fun summer theme with waterproof cards. This was a great compliment to our sometimes messy campers.

It was fulfilling to play with the kids and engage their minds in learning new games this summer.

 

 

From Classroom to Game Room

From Classroom to Game Room

After graduating with a Creative Writing degree,  I envisioned myself being a writer or a teacher, or both. In addition to fine-tuning my craft at San Francisco State, I was an instructor’s assistant for three different creative writing classes, and was an English tutor at the Learning Assistance Center. I could have gone down the literature path and spent my days analyzing prolific texts, and although I love literature, I need to tell stories. I love to write and to share my love for learning with fresh minds, so it’s serendipitous that I found a fit at Blue Orange Games!

As I write copy for new games and select illustrations, I am taken aback by the parallels between what I did as a tutor and what I am working on now. As a tutor, I helped students read and write better while encouraging them to become independent learners. I never thought that I could find similar rewards working for a company, but I have. I am helping kids learn through these games. Had you told me months ago that I would be part of a team creating educational games for children three and up, I would have said, “That’s my dream job!” Although I am not directly working with students, I think of the children who will learn via our games and it’s a similar feeling. When I was interviewed for the position I said to Martin, the director, that I could see myself thriving here because it’s important that my work has an impact. At the end of my first week, I looked over to Brandan’s computer and saw symbols that I chose for a new Spot it! game. I love to think that somewhere, someone, will be playing the games I helped create while learning!

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As a tutor, I learned how different activities such as board work, writing prompts, and asking open-ended questions helps students learn by triggering different cognitive functions. I gained a variety of teaching strategies so I could guide students while engaging their attention. It was so rewarding to watch my weekly students become better writers over the semester. Learning encompasses a range of resources and strategies that students can access. I see how our games mold young minds, preparing them for school later on. Reading, for instance, is a challenge for some college students. I wonder if it‘s because they did not learn to read early enough, or were probably never taught reading strategies like annotating in high school. Whatever the reasons, getting a jump start improves your capacity for learning down the line.

The mix of learning with fun is why I loved studying creative writing. In my second semester as an instructor’s assistant, I presented a lecture to a classroom of more than eighty students! My heart beat fast, but then I saw the students’ eyes light up after I gave them my writing prompt. When they turned in their stories, I could tell that my guidance triggered many intriguing tales. For one of the games I’m working on right now, Tell Tale Princess, I am using this talent by choosing characters, settings, and emotions that will trigger  kids’ imaginations. My work here mirrors what I accomplished as an IA, only targeted to a younger audience. Although my niece is only two and a half years old, so probably too young to play this game right now, I foresee her creating vivid stories thanks to my image prompts one day!

Blue Orange Games Visits SF Friends School

Blue Orange Games Visits SF Friends School

At Blue Orange Games, we love engaging with our local community. We make it a priority to attend street fairs, festivals and game store play days in the area. And we never turn down an opportunity to give back to our schools. I was recently invited to the SF Friends School by Max Millard (game designer and extended day teacher). I brought along the giant-size versions of some of our more popular games as well as free samples from our Spot it! and Tell Tale series.

The kids had a lot of fun playing with our games, especially Gobblet Gobblers, a twist on the classic school game Tit Tac Toe. We played that the winner of the game got to hold the table, so kids lined up to watch and learn from others’ strategies and collaborated to dethrone the reigning champs.

On another table, we set up a serious match of Blue Orange Games’ short-term memory game Pengoloo, full of focused stares from all the players as they tried to remember which colored eggs were hiding underneath their penguins.

I also got to play some of the games that Max and the kids had created together! They were all lovingly hand-made and many were inspired by classic games from today and Max’s youth. My favorite was a combination of Blue Orange Games’ Tell Tale and the classic game Memory Match — a simple twist on two great games and a delight to play!

Max wrote about the event for the school’s periodical newspaper which he curates and writes for along with the help of the students at the SF Friends School. You can read the article by clicking on the following image:

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This article appeared in the SF Friends’ December issue of the Circle Back Magazine. For more information about The San Francisco Friends School, please visit their website:  http://www.sffriendsschool.org/