My Favourite Board Games

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Boggling Story Continues

As George Lucas might say... "The Saga Continues!"

I wrote an email to my friend Phil Orbanes (who used to be Vice President for the Research and Development Department of Parker Brothers).

Phil had just returned from a Toy Fair, and was tired. Yet, he was kind enough to fill me in with what he know about the mystery of Boggle's history. This is what he had to say:

Alan Turoff did invent the "random walk" principle of Boggle, but the game failed when first introduced in 1972.

Consumer letters sparked Parker's decision to relaunch it in 1976.

Parker's internal designers gave it uniqueness via the cute, effective shaker. (the also named it "Boggle" back in '72 to compete with "Scrabble's" double letters).

The product was established after a novel and expensive print campaign in New York City, featuring mock covers of a real woman's magazine named "Cosmopolitan."

All the stories on the mock covers were BOGGLE-related. It worked.

Parker then felt confident and rolled out national advertising.

Turoff made a lot of money in royalties, but none of his subsequent games were published and he died in his 40s of some disease.

***************** Side Bar ***************

Phil Orbanes has his own games company called Winning Moves, and you can find his website by clicking this link: Winning Moves

Phil says that in his site "you'll find true classics, familiar favorites, award- winning innovative originals, and challenging new twists on old standards!".

T'is true! I've been to his site, and it is full of great games I'd love to put my hands on.

******** End of Side Bar ********

So, there you are folks! That's all we can find out - for now - about this fantastic board game.

If anyone knows more about Boggle, feel free to post your comments in this blog.

Have fun!


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More About The History of Boggle

Ok. I picked up my autographed copy of Game Makers (by Phil Orbanes), and he touches upon Boggle in page 167, when discussing the changes that took place at Parker Bros in the 70s. He says that...

"Another powerful seller was the letter cube game Boggle. A failure when first intruduced as part of a low-priced line of games in 1972, it returned in 1976 backed by a clever subway and billboard ad campaign in New York City. It soon was ringing up sales in cash registers everywhere.

Boggle included a plastic gridded base. Under a clear lid, sisteen letter cubes were shaken until they each fell into alignment in the four-by-four-grid. Racing a three minute sand timer, playres wrote down unique words, formed by connecting adjacent letters, as spotted on the grid. Boggle was a million-seller by 1977."

That's all I could get from Phil's book in respect of Boggle. Now, you have to take into account that his book is about the history of Parker Brothers, and not about Boggle in particular. Hence, he only touches upon the game as part of the big picture, and does not dwell on the particular history of the game itself.

So, my obsession continues... I gotta find more about Boggle's origins.

I've asked Phil if he knows more about Boggle. But he's away, and I can only wait for his response.

That's all for now.


Monday, February 21, 2005

I'm Boggled with the Story of Boggle!

I'm Boggled with the History of Boggle!

Yesterday, I continued my discussion about word games, and briefly discussed the rules and objects of the game... in a sort of very schetchy way.

I looked for the story of Boggle in my books about games, but the only book I knew of that touched upon the history of this boggling game is "The Game Makers" by Phil Orbanes.

I've read that book and it was good... but I had to return it to the Perth City Library... Fortunately, I ordered it, and it's ready to be collected from the bookshop....

Anyhow, I digress. My findings about the history of Boggle where not many at first. I learnt that:

1. Boggle is a "hidden word game" (Duh!)
2. A guy by the name of Allan Turoff invented it, and that
3. Parker Brothers licensed it and made a whole lot of money out of it.

The version of Boggle I have in my possession is a licensed Australian version, manufactured by Tolstoys Pty Ltd Australia, but essentially it's the same version as the American one and, unlike games like Monopoly (... here we go again!), the instructions do not contain the history of the game. Bummer!

Well... I'll have to go and get my book and see if I can find that information, as a brief search on the Net did not reveal anything significant about the history of the game.

I even went to the Hasbro site, and found the history of other games... but nothing on Boggle!

I'll get back to you on this one soon.

Posted by Jeff

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Boggle Anyone?

Boggle anyone?

This is another word-based fantastic board game that I've enjoyed playing with my kids.

In a nutshell, you shake this container with a whole lot of dice with letters printed on. Then, players must make up words by combining the letters of adjacent dice until the sand clock runs out of time.

Easy to explain, but coming up with so many words is a great challenge.

One thing that can be annoying, though, is the noise you get when shaking the container. But if you're playing, that won't bother you too much.

Of course, there is also a digital version of Boggle, with realistic and entertaining graphics and sounds.

The experiences, however, are very different. Normally, when you play with the actual game (as opposed to the virtual digital game), you have to struggle with the angle of the game. You have to "spot the words" with the container upside down (depending on the players' position).

Additionally, the actual Boggle game allows players to interact with one another... which is, I think, one of the greates values derived from board games: It's a family game!

On the other hand, whilst the digital version of Boggle allows to play in multiplayer mode, it is not quite the same. Sure, you get the enjoyment of discovering the computer randomly generated words, but you do lose the "vibes".

The same happens with the digital versions of Monopoly.

To me, playing a digital version of a board game is a last resort convenience that I take up when there is absolutely nobody else to play with....

(Secretly, though, I do enjoy defeating my digital opponents in any game... but I have to admit that I cannot really enjoy being an ungracious winner when I beat somebody who does not really exist!).

Talk to you soon.


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