Blue Orange Games Blog
Spot It Stories: New Ways to Play!

Spot It Stories: New Ways to Play!

Spot it!  is one of the most popular card games on the planet right now. It is a high speed matching game in which players race to find the same image on two cards. Playing the game is a great way of improving the brain’s processing speed while having good ‘ole fashioned fun (no tech required!). And it is such an irresistibly versatile game that people are coming up with new ways to play all the time. Last month, we told you about one of our secret variations called Ducks In A Row. In case you missed it, check out the article here.

We recently discovered another creative fan-made variation that involves combining the car

ds from Spot it! with the rules from the popular storytelling game Dixit Jinx. It’s called “Spot It Stories.” Here’s how to play:

3 x 3 grid of cards

Spot It Stories Rules

  1. Put nine Spot it! cards face-up in a 3 by 3 grid.
  2. The first player tells a short story (one or two sentences long) alluding to three icons on one of the face-up cards in the grid, without explicitly saying any of the names of the icons.
  3. One at a time, the other players then guess which card the storyteller is talking about by pointing at it.
  4. If you point to the correct card, you add that card face-down to your scoring pile.
  5. If you point to an incorrect card, the storyteller scores it instead. Players then continue guessing until either:
    1. The correct card is chosen.
    2. Three incorrect cards are chosen. In this case, the storyteller does not score any of the cards, and loses one additional card from their scoring pile, placing those cards in a separate discard pile.
  6. Fill in the empty space(s) from the remaining cards and pass  the storyteller role on to the next player (clockwise).
  7. Once the last card from the tin is placed on the table, the final round begins.
  8. The winner is the player with the most cards in their scoring pile at the end of the game.

For even more fun ways to play, check out these links to the official game rules:

Leave a comment below if you have your own ways of playing. We would love to hear from you!

Incredible Toy Company: November’s Store of the Month!

Incredible Toy Company: November’s Store of the Month!

Blue Orange Games is lucky to partner with a fantastic bunch of retailers who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of our games. We want to do more to recognize the stores and individuals that make our mission possible. That’s how our new monthly spotlight on an outstanding Blue Orange Games retailer came about!

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Our First Store of the Month

We are pleased to announce that Incredible Toy Company in Blowing Rock, North Carolina is our first Store of the Month for November! Arthur, a member of our sales team, nominated the store after participating in an awesome Play Day they hosted during his September visit. The owner Kathleen and her staff warmly welcomed Arthur and made him feel right at home. Arthur was impressed by their prominent display of our games in the middle of the store and by their vocal enthusiasm for our brand, which has lead Spot it! to be their long standing best seller.

Incredible Toy Company with Blue Orange Games
Arthur with the Incredible Toy Company Team during his September visit.

We surprised them with a bouquet of blue and orange balloons, candy, and a certificate commemorating their achievement. I caught up with the owner, Kathleen Rowell over the phone to chat with her about her toy store and its success.

About the Incredible Toy Company

Incredible Toy Company Blowing Rock
Incredible Toy Company storefront

Incredible Toy Company sits on the main road leading to the nearest big town of Boone, NC, named for legendary frontiersman, Daniel Boone. A good amount of traffic passes by the store, including a lot visitors to a nearby local amusement park. To stand out, Kathleen had her charming, freestanding store painted a bright red with yellow trim. With its sheltered porch and spacious parking lot, the cheery toy store certainly looks inviting to the large number of tourists that pass through the area. Kathleen waxed poetic about the beauty and variety of her state and community, painting a romantic picture of North Eastern American life that I am eager to experience myself. Right now, they are enjoying beautiful fall colors and a plethora of harvest festivals. A favorite she mentioned is the Woolly Worm Festival, a 35 year old tradition that culminates into the race of fuzzy caterpillars along a length of string (there’s much more to it than that; over 20,000 revelers attend the winter welcoming event!).

Of course, I had to ask Kathleen how Incredible Toy Company got started and what made her open up for business. Twenty years ago, Kathleen and her husband were raising 3 small boys, and Kathleen was becoming frustrated that there was nowhere in town to buy quality toys. Having 11 years experience in retail, she felt confident she could do it better. She did her homework and when her youngest was just 4, she opened Incredible Toy Company. She has been fortunate to have the help of her husband who doubles as her carpenter and handyman. What a pal!

Kathleen and her staff are “big game people.” Their store sports an 8 foot high set of shelves spanning the length of wall full of 350 different games! There is also a separate demo table to easily show customers how to play. But it appears that Kathleen likes puzzles the best of all. She is proud of her extensive selection and the 3,000 piece puzzle displayed under glass on her store counter. The Incredible Toy Store is also a big distributor of Playmobil products, a favorite of kids for decades. Her shop wonderfully preserves the tradition of the best in playthings, loved throughout generations.

Because Incredible Toy Company is located near many ski resorts and close to neighboring states, Virginia and Tennessee, about 85% of her customers are tourists. She has found the most effective promotion has been adding her store in visitor maps and guides of the area. But for the tight-knit local community, fun in-store events like Arthur’s Play Day always do the trick!

When asked if she had a superstar member of staff contributing to the success of her store,  she was quick to let me know that she couldn’t single anyone out because everyone actively contributes to the upbeat, happy atmosphere of her store. She said, “Working here is laid back and fun, not a lot of high pressure. They really have fun showing people Spot It. We like to play with them all!”

And there you have it, the not-so-secret to success and happiness: love what you do and stay positive!

Thank you Kathleen and the superb team at Incredible Toy Company in North Carolina for being a great example and friends of Blue Orange Games.

Go show them some love!

What’s Trending in Holiday Toys

What’s Trending in Holiday Toys

The media, pop culture, technological advancements, and the nation’s collective emotional state can all shape the trends that influence people’s buying decisions. Toys, like fashion and music, are subject to trends, and at no other time are toy trends more evident than during the mad rush of the holiday shopping season.

We received our first glimpse into this 2013’s toy trends at the American International Toy Fair in New York City last February. After the show, the TIA made the following observations which we’ve seen carried out through the year. It’s safe to guess that the products that fall in line with these themes will sell the best in the next few months.

 

Toys with tech

Did you get the memo? Geek is now synonymous with cool. In an age when 3rd graders have smart phones and toddlers are more adept with an iPad than their grandparents, technology is changing how kids experience their world. Toy companies have responded by integrating technology into new products, not only to hold kids’ attention and keep up with the times, but to enrich the quality and potential of play. Many toys that work together with tablets and apps have risen in popularity, along with products that create 3D interaction, that are powered by robotics and remote-control, and that blend real and virtual worlds.

Holiday toys to look for: Popar Toys 3D Adventure kits, The Explorer Globe from LeapFrog Enterprises, LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit, Skylanders Cloud Patrol App Sets

 

Blast from the past

Hot Holiday Toys
Easy Bake Oven (now available in gender-neutral black/silver!)

As our ultra connected, high tech lives become the norm, the past becomes more and more attractive and romanticized. Classic play appears novel to the millennial generation. Vintage styling and nostalgia have been hot for the past several years, and now even playthings are going back to basics. Kids are discovering the classics of their parents’ and grandparents’ youth, who are delighted to share in the fun. And for the first time, the 90’s is long enough ago to be a decade to bring back. Just take a look at the new crop of Furbies, introduced onto the market to much fan fare in 1998. Hitting an emotional note with families, retro toys are proven hits that will last for generations to come.

 

Holiday toys to look for: Wooden doll houses, marble runs, The new Cabbage Patch Kid Dolls, classic board games, Easy Bake Oven, Lincoln Logs, Spin Around Kids, Play Doh

 

Teens want more than screens

Trends in Holiday Toys
Traditional games like Gobblet are refreshing

Treading the teen and tween market has always been a slippery slope. In response to the realization that Millennials are growing up a heck of a lot faster than preceding generations, the toy industry sought to reach this audience with what they knew best: technology. But as we’re seeing with the Retro trend, what’s old is new again, and suddenly no-tech is refreshing! Whether they are aware of it or not, kids are craving the physical. Given the rise in playing board games among kids and adults, we’ll say this is definitely starting to show. Hey, even the web company Match.com got on board and now host in person mixers where eligible men and women get to know each other over games like Spot it!

Holiday toys to look for: tabletop games, licensed figurines & collectibles, outdoor action toys, and extreme sports equipment.

 

Talent Showcase

Reality competition shows have been rocking the air waves over the past few years and with a positive effect. TV shows like Chopped, Project Runway and American Idol that celebrate every day peoples’ skills have inspired kids to pursue their talents. The toy industry was listening. Crafts and DIY kits are ever popular, along with hands-on toys that encourage creativity, role playing, and performance.

Holiday toys to look for: Creative Toys Haute Couture Fashion Studio, Small World Living Toys Young Chef Cookware Set, VTech – KidiJamz Studio, ALEX® Toys – Do-it-Yourself Wear! All Duct Out, DIY Rubber Band Bracelets Loom Kit

 

Going Beyond Blocks

hot holiday toys
Sets like Roominate expose girls to STEM early

Construction toys received a huge demand in the past few years and show no sign of slowing down. Classic sets like Erector and Lego are still going strong, but the new kids on the block are bringing innovation to sets that are interchangeable, eco-friendly, electrically powered, or licensed. Manufacturers have become mindful of appealing to kids across gender, age and ability. No doubt, the rise in construction toys has been fueled by the recent attention advocates of STEM education (science, tech, engineering, math) have received.

Holiday toys to look for: Play Sets by Roominate, HexBug, GoldieBlox, Keva, Hanz, Eitech

 

Guess who made Amazon’s 2013 Holiday Toys List?

Browse the list and see if you can spot it….

 

Dragon Face Rules Explained

Dragon Face Rules Explained

Dragon Face plays similar to Chess and Checkers, but adds an exciting twist – captured pieces join the opposing team instead of being removed from the game!

Since Thierry Denoual created Dragon Face in 2011, we have had an overwhelmingly positive response from our community of players, but some have asked for clarifications regarding the rules. So, here is an updated version of the Dragon Face rules that will hopefully clarify any questions you have about the game. And if there is something we didn’t cover, please leave a reply at the bottom of the page and we will address it!

Dragon Face Logo

2 Players

Ages 8 to Adult

Contents:

  • Game Mat
  • Pieces
    • 2 Emperors
    • 12 Ambassadors
    • 14 Governors

The Game Mat:

The game mat is divided into 99 squares, consisting of the Territories and the Sacrifice Zone.

The Territories are the 63 inner squares, where most of the game’s action takes place.

The Sacrifice Zone is composed of the 36 border squares, where pieces are trapped when their move takes them outside the bounds of the Territories. (See: Playing the Game)

The Pieces:

The Emperor moves like the king piece in Chess, in any direction, one square at a time.

If your Emperor is captured, you lose the game.

Dragon Face Emporer

The Ambassador moves like the queen piece in Chess, as far as you want it to, along a straight line.

Dragon Face Ambassador

The Governor moves similar to the pawn in Chess. It can only move forward, one square at a time (straight or diagonally), and may only capture diagonally. The first time a Governor moves, you may move it two squares (in the same direction) rather than one.

Dragon Face Governor

IMPORTANT:

Pieces cannot move over other pieces except when capturing.

Pieces cannot change direction mid move.

Set Up:

Each player chooses an empire (light or dark) and flips all their pieces (1 Emperor, 6 Ambassadors, 7 Governors) to the corresponding side, and places them as pictured:

Dragon Face setup

Object of the Game:

Capture your opponent’s Emperor.

Playing the Game:

The player using the light colored pieces moves first. After this, take turns moving one piece at a time.

On your turn, you may move any of your pieces in the Territories, according to its description. (See: The Pieces)

Capturing pieces:

You may capture any of your opponent’s pieces that you can reach with one of your own pieces. To capture it, move your piece as normal (except for the Governor who can only capture diagonally), and place it in the square immediately on the other side of the piece you wish to capture. If the square behind that piece already has another piece in it, then it is protected and you may not capture it.

When you capture a piece, it is flipped over and immediately becomes part of your empire, and you can choose to move it on your next turn.

Capturing Summary:

  • Move your pieces as normal to capture.
  • The Governor can only capture diagonally.
  • There must be an available square on the other side of the piece you wish to capture.
  • Captured pieces are flipped and become part of your empire.

Immunity:

You may not capture a piece which was captured on your opponent’s previous turn. You must wait at least one turn to recapture any of your pieces.

The Sacrifice Zone:

Pieces can only enter the Sacrifice Zone when capturing another piece.

Once a piece enters the Sacrifice Zone, it is stuck there for the rest of the game.

The only exception to this rule is the Ambassador piece, which can return to the Territories if you reach (or cross over) your opponent’s back line with one of your Governors. At this point, you may choose to reactivate one of your Ambassadors in the Sacrifice Zone by placing the Governor that just reached your opponent’s back line underneath it. The Ambassador is now free to move back into the Territories on any of your future turns, but the Governor you used to activate it must remain in the Sacrifice Zone for the rest of the game.

Note: Pieces stuck in the Sacrifice Zone still prevent other pieces from moving into their square, which means that you cannot perform a capture move that would take your piece into an occupied square in the Sacrifice Zone.

Sacrifice Zone Summary:

  • If a Governor enters the Sacrifice Zone, it is trapped there for the rest of the game.
  • If an Ambassador enters the Sacrifice Zone, it is trapped there until you can free it by moving one of your Governors into your opponent’s back line.
  • An Emperor MAY NOT enter the Sacrifice Zone

IMPORTANT:

If you are able to capture your opponent’s Emperor on your next turn, you do NOT need to let them know. (No need to say, “Check!”)

Our First Year at Chicago Toy & Game Fair

Our First Year at Chicago Toy & Game Fair

2013 marks the first year that we will exhibiting at Chicago Toy & Game Fair on November 23 & 24 in you guessed it, Chicago, Illinois. Every year, we try to extend our reach and appear at more shows, both trade and public. In just 11 years, ChiTAG has grown into an important stage for the toy industry, and it’s a wonder that we could go this long without being a part of it! Luckily, this year we have enough staff to spare several during the crucial pre-holiday season to send ‘em over to Chi-Town for the largest toy and game fair open to the public.

Attendees will discover the best and latest in playthings from around the world, and have the opportunity to check out exhibits, play in tournaments, meet their favorite characters, and more! ChiTAG is unique in that it also caters to inventors, industry professionals and educators with conferences and an awards ceremony.

Visit Blue Orange Games at ChiTAG

Blue Orange Games will be at booth #510 with special show prices and lots of fun to be had. If you’ll be at the show, don’t miss your chance to impress us with your spotting skills. Every day we will be hosting game tournaments with prizes, of course!

Fastrack Tournament on Saturday & Sunday at 11am
Spot It! Tournament on Saturday & Sunday at 4pm

Here’s another tip: Say the magic word “Hans” to one of our charming game gurus to get a $1 OFF each game your purchase! If you don’t know what Hans is all about, you probably need to Like Blue Orange Games to keep you in the loop about these things! Hans it’s the name of the Spot it! Hand, you know the little guy on the game tin. We ran a Facebook contest to name him and Hans won by highest vote.

A fun and cheap family day out

So if you are in a 100 mile radius of the Windy City, we urge you to get your tickets to this awesome family event that will thrill kids and give parents plenty of ideas for Santa’s bounty this year. The tickets are delightfully inexpensive and entry is free for the following guests:

  • Educators & Librarians (school ID required)
  • Girl/Boy Scouts in uniform (or sash, badge/button, or troop ID)
  • Retail & Industry Professionals
  • Grandparents on Nov. 24
  • Firefighters, police, active military and military veterans with ID

ChiTAG’s Mission:  To build community through play by providing opportunities for people of all ages to connect with one another and experience the joy and educational value of traditional play.

Learn more about the show and get your tickets today!

ChiTag Chicago Toy & Game Fair

Eco Friendly Games Support the San Francisco Bay

Eco Friendly Games Support the San Francisco Bay

Eco friendly games to support Save The BayAs a company, we are always looking for ways to develop our green initiatives and help families choose eco friendly games.  So we’re thrilled to announce our recent partnership with Save The Bay, the largest organization working to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay. We have agreed to donate a portion of our wholesale revenues in the Bay Area to the organization’s efforts.

Play to save the SF Bay

With hundreds of accounts in the Bay Area and strong relationships with our local retailers, this initiative promises to benefit the local environment as well as community members, who are provided with an easy way to do their part to support a healthy San Francisco Bay for people and wildlife. We recognize that the Bay is central to our economy and quality of life here in the Bay Area, and it feels good to know that our company and customers can help in a small, albeit important way.

Every purchase will contribute to the funding Maker of eco friendly games partners with Save The Bayof Save The Bay’s efforts. This means supporting the restoration of natural habitats, protecting the Bay from pollution and inappropriate shoreline development, securing policies to re-establish 100,000 acres of vital wetlands, and educating future generations on how to be Bay stewards.

Blue Orange Games Headquarters is located literally at the edge of the Bay, on the last road before you hit the docks in the Dogpatch district of San Francisco. It’s something we see every day and appreciate for reasons both personal and civic. The company founders, Julien and Thierry actually first discussed the idea of starting a game company while sailing on the Bay.

We are also excited to band together as a company for a volunteer day to work on a restoration project with Save The Bay in a couple of months. We’ll be sure to share some pictures when we do!

Inspiring others to give back

We hope our recent commitment inspires others to set aside time a few times a year to do something to support their local community and environment. Participate in a beach or park cleanup, start a neighborhood vegetable garden, petition your kids’ school to adopt Meatless Mondays, or participate in a race/walk for your favorite cause. Email community(at)blueorangegames(dot)com a picture of you or your kids giving back and we’ll send you a surprise thank you gift.

How to find our eco friendly games

If you’re in a Whole Foods or toy store in the Bay Area, look for the Save The Bay stickers on our games. Use our store locator to find a Blue Orange retailer in your town. And check this out, the organization’s logo is blue and orange! The match was meant to be.

 

Teach Good Sportsmanship to Kids

Teach Good Sportsmanship to Kids

Unfortunately, It’s Not Always Fun and Games…

Losing a game can be a difficult, frustrating experience for a young child. It can turn a previously enjoyable experience into a discouraging disappointment, making them not want to play again. Learning to cope with disappointment is a valuable life lesson, and developing good sportsmanship is an important part of a child’s maturation. In order to help your young ‘un lose with grace and composure, we recommend you try the following ideas.

games teach good sportsmanship
Don’t try this at home!

Cooperative Games

Not all games call for a winner and a loser, some are more collaborative in nature — encouraging cooperation and teamwork skills rather than competition. These types of Cooperative Games have seen a recent surge in popularity because they teach the types of collaborative life skills that players need to succeed in the adult world. Games like Zimbbos and Tell Tale are great examples of how cooperative games encourage players to work as a team instead of as separate entities.

Games teach good sportsmanship

Change the Rules

Here at Blue Orange Games, we encourage players to make up their own variations on our rules. If you are playing with someone who doesn’t like to lose, try taking out the timed nature of the game. For example, in Speedeebee, instead of racing to answer, just wait for everyone to come up with their answer — then have players answer in order of age, with the youngest player going first (or vice versa, depending on the game/players). This removes the frustration of not being as fast as other players, and creates a more relaxed playspace, where the emphasis is on participation (not competition).

Challenge Yourself (Not Others)

Point based games like 20 Express or Sumoku are super versatile because they can be played competitively against other players, or just against yourself. If you are interested in playing without singling out a loser, just have players aim to improve their own previous scores, rather than beat the scores of others. This way, players still retain a sense of competition and engagement, but none of the frustration of losing to others.

Teach Good Sportsmanship by Example

Lose by example! The best way to help a loss-averse young-un, is to show them they can still have fun while losing. Purposefully lose a game (or two) and show your child that you are still having fun. Exaggerate and play it up! Be sure to compliment their winning performance while making fun of your own. Showing them that you are still having fun while losing will help them understand that winning isn’t the only way you can enjoy playing a game.