Meet the Inventor: Ted Cheatham

We recently interviewed the inventor of our new game City Square Off, Ted Cheatham. He had a lot of great things to say about his ideas and the game industry, and also had some great tips for aspiring game inventors. Check it out!

What inspired you to create City Square Off?
In 2004 and 2005 I had three different games working with the same basic pieces. I had used graph paper and cut out all of these shapes. One game was about roller coaster parks, one about metropolitan development, and one about economic bidding. What began in graph paper at one of my daughter’s soccer practices now has an exciting life with a great production from Gamewright.

As best as I can remember, I was working on the roller coaster game one afternoon. It was about acquiring various rides of different shapes and building them into a theme park with lakes and forests. I was actually working on the building rules and how to maintain paths to various rides. In trying to determine the rules and the size of the board, the idea for City Square Off just hit me. I had just come up with a very elegant tile placement game. I immediately made up a prototype and began to play test.

What makes City Square Off different than other games on the market? Why

Marathon game of City Square Off being played
at our Eight Cousins game night last weekend

will families enjoy playing it?
It is fast, simple, elegant and easy to pick up. Also, it gives you a bit of a puzzle challenge and makes you think. Anytime you can get that “Oh, please, please, please give me this piece I need” to “Oh no, now where do I put that. Why did you have to pick that piece?” in the course of 5 to 10 minutes I think you have a hit. When my daughter was home from college she wanted to see the great Gamewright production of City Square Off. We played the first game and she wanted the next variant, then the next. I finally told her I had to quit to get some things done and she continued to play the solitaire version for a while. Once you get started, you just want to try again to do better! The other nice thing about the game is that with enough copies you can literally play with 6, 8, or even 10 people simultaneously in the same game. I just hope everyone enjoys it!

Have you invented other games?
Yes, today I have seven games in print. Happily, two of them, Captain Clueless and City Square Off are with Gamewright.

What are your top five favorite games that are on the market? Do you have favorite Gamewright games?
Wow, this is a very tough question on my favorite games on the market. I try to maintain my collection at 500 games (I am failing) so I buy and sell quite a bit. I like some old classics like El Grande, Expedition, Um Reifenbreite, Big Boss, and Railroad Tycoon, but with so many games, my moods and taste change a lot. As for Gamewright games, my kids grew up on these great games like Rat-a-tat Cat, Horse Show, Slamwich, Loot, and Turn the Tide. I think that Forbidden Island is a terrific game from the recent releases.

Ted getting some city inspiration - on the London Eye overlooking the House of Parliament

If you were to give advice to others on how to invent a game, what would it be?
First, don’t do it for the money. Do it because you really enjoy doing it. It is a lot of work to get it right and it is very difficult to get a huge hit. Secondly, play a lot of games to see what is out there and what you can bring to the industry that is new and unique. Third, make sure you get many great evaluation groups that can blind play test your rules and your game. DO NOT RELY ON YOUR FRIENDS THAT ARE NOT HONEST GAMERS! Be willing to listen to others and adapt. And, most of all, have fun.

Do you have any more games in the works that you can talk about?
I would love to talk about other games in the works. However, it is a little premature. I have about six prototypes at various companies for evaluation and am hopeful a few of them will be picked up. As a matter of fact, I have two game ideas at Gamewright right now so, keep your fingers crossed.

Why do you think playing card, board and dice games (i.e. games without plugs or batteries) is important?
To me, social interaction is a big piece of playing board games. You get to interact with real people and you must adapt to unique personalities and strategies instead of a computer generated artificial logarithm for a game engine. And, you can just have some great laughs.  Great games offer a different experience every time through clever game mechanisms and player mix. Your decisions affect the other players and theirs affect you. That is what makes in-person board-gaming an incredible hobby. Overall, I think my children, now young adults, have better social skills, logical reasoning, and problem solving skills as a result of years of family fun at the game table. It is amazing what you can learn playing games.

****
Ted will be making appearances at some upcoming events in West Virginia – Lost Legion Games & Comics will be hosting “Meet the Inventor” game nights at two of their stores. Wednesday, 8/31 from 5-7pm at The Castle in Beckley, and Thursday 9/8 from 5-7pm at The Rifleman in Charleston. City Square Off will also be featured in the library of games at PAX Prime in Seattle in a couple weeks, and at CharCon in Charleston in October.

***And last but not least – the winner of our GUBS giveaway, who will be receiving a copy of the game signed by inventor Cole Medeiros! It is Steven W. of Scotia, NY. Congratulations Steven! For those of you curious – here are the answers to our GUBS scavenger hunt clues, which could be found on Gubcards.com:

1. What grade was Cole in when he first started drawing GUBS? 4th grade (found on “About” page)
2. When was the date that Cole announced Gamewright would be publishing GUBS? April 24th, 2011 (found on the “News” page)
3. What is the name of Cole’s brother (and GUBS co-creator)? Alex Medeiros (found on the “News” page)

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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 www.gamewright.com.
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One Response to Meet the Inventor: Ted Cheatham

  1. Ted is not only a very talented game designer – he’s an extremely nice guy.

    That takes nothing away from City Square-Off, of course – my wife & boys (ages 10 & 6) fell in love with the game immediately… and we quickly introduced it to both a 7 year old & one of my wife’s friends (age hidden because I’m smarter than I look) with great success.

    The production is top-notch, which just makes the game play stand out even more.

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