This past weekend, over 300 people converged on sunny San Diego for an entire weekend of gaming. This was Mensa Mind Games, an annual competition where members of the American Mensa organization gather to play games and determine which five games deserves the coveted Mensa Select seal. This year’s competition featured 60 games submitted by a variety of publishers. Of those games two were League member games and another three were by guest authors and friends of the League.
The submittal process for a game is very simple. For Stones of Fate we knew from the beginning that we wanted to submit. It is only $200 and if a game wins the benefits to the publisher are huge. As part of our research process we interviewed some past winners to see how winning Mensa changed their games.
Gravwell was designed by Cory Young and was one of the winners in 2014. I spoke to Cory about how Gravwell was perceived after winning. He said that there was a definite increase in sales right away, selling out the remaining copies of the 5,000 print run in 60 days. He also mentioned that carrying the Mensa Select seal opened up doors to market to “brainy” toy and game stores and that it inspired Barnes & Noble to carry it as well.
Jamey Stegmaier was also a designer who won in 2014 with Euphoria. He said after winning he did see an increase in interest but unfortunately was sold out at the time so couldn’t really capitalize on the interest generated by the win. “My main takeaway from the experience is that I wish I had many more games in stock when we won the award, because that’s really the only time it organically gets the attention of both Mensa members, the gaming community, and the general public.”
So that brings us to 2015 and Stones of Fate. Given this information and the potential to increase sales and interest so dramatically, we thought it was worth it to enter the competition. We thought we had a good chance since Stones of Fate is a memory game and we figured that would appeal to Mensa members. We also knew we would score high in Mensa’s five categories of aesthetics, instructions, originality, play appeal, and play value. However there were many great games competing this year and while I still believe that Stones of Fate scores well, unfortunately, we did not win. I am proud to say that of the five winners, three were League games or games from League guest authors.
LANTERNS: THE HARVEST FESTIVAL
CASTLES OF MAD KING LUDWIG
We are honored just to be in the same competition as these great games. Overall, I would say our experience with Mensa MindGames was positive and I would encourage other publishers to go out and take the risk and submit your game to this or other contests. Plus we get some feedback later which I’m looking forward too. And, you never know, you might actually end up a winner like:
To finish out this story, I asked Peter Vaughan and Brad Brooks to share a little of their experiences with Letter Tycoon.
Peter: This is all Brad – not only for the design of a great game but he’s the one who said to his publisher, “psssst, submit to Mensa!”
On behalf of Squirmy Beast, and our publishing partner Breaking Games, we’re absolutely thrilled!
Congrats to all the games that submitted – and to all the nominees. Such great company! It’s a win just to put yourself out there in my opinion. In January, I wrote a post called, Goodbye Obscurity Mode, and I meant it. And you know where I got that title from? Another Mensa Select winning publisher this year – Lanterns publisher, Randy Hoyt!
Getting out there is the key. Christina has another great post Game Design Contests: Are They Worth It?, but this is new ground for me. I was convinced we had to do this when I met a wonderful Mensa rep at Toy Fair who mentioned the 300+ feedback cards you get on your game, regardless of result. In addition to getting the game in front of folks, it meant valuable feedback no matter what. And now, time to get back to preparing Letter Tycoon for its tabletop debut at Origins!
Brad: I’m really delighted that Letter Tycoon was selected by Mensa – it was in great company during the competition and I’m proud to have it standing along with its fellow winners. I’m anxious to see how we can capitalize on this recognition to get more exposure for our game so that it ends up on more tables.