Meet the Kid Inventor: Emily Ehlers

This week we’d like to introduce to you one of our new games for this year that is making a splash – Mermaid Beach! This ocean-themed card game is invented by Emily Ehlers, who was eight years old when she created the game. Now twelve, she is the second kid to invent a Gamewright game (Sleeping Queens was invented by 6-year-old Miranda Evarts). Emily’s own adventures on the sea inspired her to create the game, and here we have the inside scoop on how she came up with the idea, what her future as a game inventor may hold, and why she thinks games are an important part of life!

Mermaid Beach Inventor Emily Ehlers

What inspired you to create the card game Mermaid Beach? “When I was 8, my family took a year-long sailing trip.  My mom, dad, two brothers and I lived on a 42-foot sailboat.  We spent several weeks sailing around Cape Cod at the start of our trip. That is where I got the idea.  Because we were always on the water or in the water, I started thinking about what if mermaids were real?  What would they be like and what would they do for fun?   Also, we had a lot of time being on a boat, and I liked the idea of using some of it to make a new game instead of just playing the ones we already had. It was my idea to make the game about mermaids and shell collecting, but everyone in my family helped with ideas for how the game would work.  My brothers Jake and Drew helped me make cards so we could play and test out the game.  My mom and dad played lots of rounds with us and helped us work out the kinks.”

Betsy Bubbles

What’s your favorite character in the game?  “Betsy Bubbles. I like her bestbecause she is the first mermaid that got transformed from my drawings into an actual card in the game.  I like that she looks sassy and has a shell phone!”

Have you invented other games? “Not yet, but I would like to.”

What are your top five favorite games that are on the market? Do you have favorite Gamewright games? “My favorite games are Wig-Out, Sleeping Queens, In A Pickle, Apples to Apples and Life. My family has a lot of Gamewright games and we like them all, but especially Wig-Out, Sleeping Queens, In A Pickle, and the Scrambled States Game.  We buy these games as birthday presents for friends a lot, too.”

If you were to give advice to other kids (or adults!) on how to invent a game, what would it be? “My advice would be to play a lot of games because helps you see how others games work, what you like and what other people like, and what types of games different companies make.  Also, don’t be afraid to try out your ideas because you might be surprised how well it works or how much people like it.”

Do you have any more games in the works that you can talk about? “My brother Jake and I are working on a game about growing a vegetable garden.  Right now, it is a little bit like Pit and a little bit like Left-Right-Center, but different too.  Lots of people where we live in Portland, Oregon, grow their own food and shop at farmers’ markets, and we thought it would be fun to make a card game that would make vegetables fun and exciting.”

Why do you think playing card, board and dice games (i.e. games without

Emily on her boat

plugs or batteries) is important? “When we lived on a boat, we didn’t always have electrical power, so playing card games was a really great way to spend time.  But even now that we live on land again, it’s good to get away from things like TV, computers and video games to get your mind flowing.”

What do you want to be when you grow up? “I really like to draw and design things, so I would like to be a fashion designer.”

What grade are you in school? “6th grade.”

How old are you? “I am 12.”

Do you have a favorite subject in school? “Art!”


Since Mermaid Beach is such a great summer game, we will be giving away a copy to one lucky reader! Comment on this post with the name of your favorite beach, and we’ll randomly select a winner. You have until midnight (EST) on Monday, July 25th to enter. I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, July 26th. Good luck!!

About Gamewright

Gamewright is a leading manufacturer of family games, best known for such household hits as Slamwich, Rat-a-Tat Cat, In a Pickle, Rory's Story Cubes and The Scrambled States of America Game. Gamewright prides itself on making games that foster laughter, learning, friendship and fun. Kids, parents, grandparents, and educators all agree that Gamewright makes some of the best games on the planet. For more information, visit
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37 Responses to Meet the Kid Inventor: Emily Ehlers

  1. Destin, FL is a wonderful beach!! Congratulations Emily, can’t wait to try Mermaid Beach w/ my children!! We are also big fans of Gamewright games. Speeling Queens is one of our favs!

  2. Deb Nolan says:

    Way to go Emily! My favorite beach is Lambert’s Cove on Martha’s Vineyard.

  3. Very cool!

    My favorite beach is probably Myrtle Beach, SC since I have so many great memories if family vacations there.

  4. Kim B says:

    We love Good Harbor in Gloucester, MA.
    Mermaid Beach looks like a great game!

  5. Emily Ehlers says:

    Hi, it’s Emily, the inventor of Mermaid Beach. My favorite beach in Oregon is Canon Beach, but I think any beach is great, especially if it’s a warm, sunny day!

  6. Thom says:

    Do I have to pick just one? I guess I’ll go with Crane’s Beach, in Ipswitch, MA. Pretty sure my daughters would really love this game. I’ll be looking for it at my local stores.

  7. Beth says:

    We love to vacation in Duck, NC. We like to play games on rainy daqys. We’re looking forward to this great new game. What an inspiration to kids everywhere!

  8. Fran Davis says:

    I can’t wait to try this game with my granddaugter when she is a little older. You are in inspiration for kids that you are never to young or old to become an inventor!!

  9. jen bricker says:

    love st augustine beach in florida!
    what a great story! how exciting to live on a boat!
    i have an 8 year old,she loves art too~ you have inspired her! can’t wait to find this game in the stores if we don’t win!! good luck with your future endeavors!
    jen bricker

  10. Samantha says:

    Duck, NC is our favorite beach also. It’s where our girls have learned to enjoy the ocean and all it has to offer. Congratulations Emily on publishing your first game – I am sure you will be accomplishing more amazing things in the future!

  11. Lidwin G. says:

    I am so excited for Emily! I played an early version of Mermaid Beach with Emily when she and her family sailed up the Hudson River and it was a fun game then. I can’t wait to play again!

  12. Marna Barnes says:

    Emily, you are amazing! My favorite beach is Sugar Beach in Maui, Hawaii. But I agree that any beach with sand, sunshine and warm water is a wonderful thing! I will be buying Mermaid Beach as soon as it comes to my city!

  13. Marylin Heffelmire says:

    Way to go Emily! We will definitely be getting your card game and play it with our Grandkids here in Indiana when they visit. Good luck in coming up with more games.

  14. Debbie Fehling says:

    I am so impressed with your talent Emily. I’m certain your family is very proud of you.
    I will be buying MERMAID BEACH and hopefully more of your games.
    I love any beach but am partial to Ft. Myers Beach.

  15. Harold DuCloux, III says:

    You go girl! I love Hunting Island Beach, S.C.

  16. Roger Fehling says:

    Aunt Judy and Uncle Dave told us all about your new game. It sounds really neat and I am so impressed with your inventiveness and art talent. You would be a great fashion designer!
    I think my favorite beach is on Sanibel Island.

  17. jan says:

    Wonderful work Emily! You are an inspiration for kids everywhere! My favorite beach is Nag’s Head!

  18. adrienne says:

    Sturgeon Bay, Michigan or Lincoln City, Oregon

  19. Aubrey says:

    We really like Westside Park on Lake Michigan – great beach that no one knows about, so it’s never crowded! My kids will be really impressed to hear Emily’s story; they’re always making up new games too.

  20. Ft Walton Beach, FL!!! Can’t wait to try ouot your new game! Way to go Emily!!

  21. Shari W. says:

    Waikiki Beach is pretty fabulous. Love to see that young kids are using their imaginations to develop their own games. Sleeping Queens has been one of our favs this past year. Can’t wait to check out Mermaid Beach. Way to go Emily!

  22. Lisa Donner says:

    Hamburg Beach is our favorite!

  23. Lisa Donner says:

    Whoops hit return too quick! Hamburg beach is our favorite and my boys would love to invent a card game just like you Emily. Mermaid beach looks like alot of fun, and sleeping Queens is the first gamewright game we ever played and still our favorites!!

  24. Cathy R says:

    Stone Harbor, NJ, but my kids would prefer one with mermaids:)

  25. Cindy says:

    Cape Hatteras, NC just takes all your cares away!! Love the game, Emily. Thank you Gamewright for sponsoring another wonderful game inventor and product!!

  26. Nancy Tibbetts says:

    Iam a long time friend of your grandmother Janet. I loved hearing her tell about your adventures at sea and of your creating your very own game. Kids can become very creative without the usual everyday things to distract them. She also shared about your trip to the Florida Keys. My husband and I lived there for four years when we were first married. He served aboard a Navy submarine during those years. Needless to say, I really love the area. My granddaughter visited Pigeon Key with her class when the she was a freshman in high school and will be going to Churchhill, Canada to study the Polar Bears in October representing teens from the Cincinnati Zoo. You sound like a really geat KID !!!!! Maybe I,ll meet you someday when you visti your grandparents in Aurora.

  27. Sandra Showard says:

    Emily Ehlers, you got it right! Canon Beach is the very best beach. Can’t wait to have you sign one of my decks of Mermaid Beach. You rock Emily!

  28. Ruby says:

    If the contest is still going on, my favorite beaches are Neskowin and Cannon Beach in Oregon. Nice job Emily! Happy to have such a great bf!

  29. The beach off the coastal trail in the Redwoods!

  30. Gaby Lemieux says:

    Hi Emily!!!! Looks like an awesome game! My favorite beach is Miami Beach, in Florida.

  31. Marie Mcclain says:

    This sounds like a fun new game! We are a gamewright family and always excited to see your new inventions! Right now our favorite beach is in Sea Bright NJ.

  32. Chelsea says:



  33. Ethan will douglas says:

    What a brilliant idea

  34. ebmajnin Q says:

    I know emily. she goes to my school and rides my bus. and im friends with her brother jake. they’re a nice people

  35. clar says:

    I look forward to playing this game with my children. I think they will really enjoy it. We love gamewright games! And WAY TO GO EMILY!

  36. jo says:

    A role model for young kids lost in tv, computer games snd mindless social media. Board and card games are so good for kids and the whole family. It is part of great quality time you can have with your kids. So much bonding and fun. Kids like Emily are inspiring.
    WeLove Sauble Beach in Ontario.

  37. Scott Allen says:

    HI Emily. I am a local game inventor in Portland. I have a facebook group dedicated to game developers to share ideas about game design and to play test games in various stages of development. I would love to invite you to the group. Please check it out:

    And by the way. My name is Scott Allen. I am also a game inventor and creator of the Creative Gaming Alliance and I own

    Hope to see you in our community!

    ~ Scott

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