Meet the Inventor: Rebekah Bissell

Well, now that Labor Day has come and gone and school is back in session, one might think that the fun may be winding down. Not so here at Gamewright! We have yet another new game on the market, which means that more fun is just beginning! Knock Your Blocks Off, a puzzling, fast-paced and strategic game where you want to be the first one to knock off your opponents’ crown, is beginning to create some buzz. We interviewed the game inventor, Rebekah Bissell, to gain more insight on how this fantastic game came to life.

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Meet Rebekah!

What inspired you to create the game Knock Your Blocks Off? The idea originally came out of a design challenge and contest on one of my favorite websites, BoardGameGeek. The challenge was to create a game that could be played just with dice. I thought it would be fun to treat the dice as building blocks, and use the matching sides as a rule for how you could build with them. I came up with different structures to build with the dice, but it felt like the game needed to be about more than just building. That’s when it hit me—what’s just as much fun as building a tower out of blocks? Knocking it down, of course!

Have you invented other games? I’ve invented many other games, but KYBO is the only one on the market so far. I make several of my games available as free print-and-play games, so people can download the files and build the games themselves.

What are your top five favorite games that are on the market? Do you have favorite Gamewright games? Hmmm…that’s a tough one. It changes all the time, and it depends on whether I’m playing with my family or with my friends. If I had to narrow it down, though, I’d pick Dominion, Bazaar, Galaxy Trucker, Thebes, and Forbidden Island.

Rebekah’s daughter, Sarah, playing
Sleeping Queens against a tennis ball!

I’ve got three young kids, so we’re big fans of Gamewright games in our house. Besides Forbidden Island, our favorites would probably be Sleeping Queens, Castle Keep, Rat-a-Tat Cat, and Boochie. We’re also looking forward to trying out several of the new games that just came out. I recently found my 4-year-old daughter playing Sleeping Queens, the Uglydoll Card Game, and Dweebies against a tennis ball!

If you were to give advice to others on how to invent a game, what would it be? Do it because you love it. Transforming a simple idea into something that can make people smile and laugh and just have fun together is an amazing process, and you don’t even have to get a game published to accomplish that. If you do want to get it published, be prepared for a lot of work as you test and refine your game. One thing that helps me as I develop an idea is to focus on the fun in the game. Early in the process, I ask myself, “What is the key part of this idea that is going to make it fun for the players?” For some games, that might be the ability to make clever plays. For others it might be the payoff from taking a big risk, or the social interaction, or the sense of accomplishment as you build or collect things. Don’t be afraid to make changes, even if it means taking out something that you originally loved about it.

Do you have any more games in the works that you can talk about? Oh, I’ve always got something in the works! I’m excited about one I’ve been working on that’s designed to be a first game for young kids, but with some flexibility so that they don’t grow out of it right away. We’ve got several others in various phases of the design process, including one that we’re hoping will be a good fit for Gamewright.

Display of Knock Your Blocks Off at Toy Fair 2011

Why do you think playing card, board and dice games (i.e. games without plugs or batteries) is important? While I play all sorts of games with my kids, there’s really something special about sitting across the table from them and playing a game. I love to see the look on their faces when they’ve figured out a clever play, or as my 4-year-old says, an “evil plotto” (as she rubs her hands together and laughs maniacally)! I love to see them grow in their ability to respond well when things don’t go their way. I love how, even when I’m busy, I can take even a few minutes to play a game together to communicate to them that they are important to me.

I’m also a big proponent of the educational value of board games. I started playing games with my son when he was 3, and I was amazed at how quickly he started to pick up math concepts well beyond his age. Once he started to learn to read, I introduced games where he could practice his new skills. With my older daughter, I’ve found that playing a quick game in the morning before school better prepares her to learn and helps her to focus.

What makes Knock Your Blocks Off different than other games on the market? Why will families enjoy playing it? Knock Your Blocks Off pulls together puzzle-solving, dexterity, and strategy into a unique blend. Because it draws on multiple skill sets, it’s a great fit for families, where different members can excel at different parts of the game. Some people might be great at building the structures. Others can shine during the destruction phase. It’s a fast-paced game that keeps everybody engaged, so even with a lot of players, there’s very little downtime. (To play with more than 4 players, you can combine sets.) I’ve seen people of all ages become engrossed in the game, and I’ve become convinced that each of us has a little part that still loves building something out of blocks and then knocking it over!

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We just couldn’t let you in on how great this game is without a giveaway! One randomly selected lucky reader can win a copy of Knock Your Blocks Off by leaving a comment on this post by midnight EST on Monday, September 12th. Rebekah herself is a fond reader of our blog, so feel free to leave her some kind words about this exciting new game.

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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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10 Responses to Meet the Inventor: Rebekah Bissell

  1. Jonathan Warren says:

    Well done Rebekah. As you know, this is a game that Charlotte keeps asking if we can buy yet. I am pleased that I’ll soon be able to tell her that a copy is on the way!

  2. What a neat idea! Sounds very portable, too, which is a big bonus. I love Gamewright games and I’m exicited to see new ideas and games when they come out. I have quite a few and my nieces and nephews love them.

  3. Shana E. says:

    This game sounds really fun for our family. My son and husband love creating their own games out of games we have and this sounds like you have already created this multi-faceted adventure…with dice even, I can’t wait to try it! 🙂 Keep up the good work!

    Shana E.

  4. Cathy R says:

    I love Gamewright and would love to learn a new game!

  5. Brian W says:

    Sounds like fun!

  6. Becky says:

    Congrats on your first published game, Rebekah! My kids and I were so excited to see this was going to be published after we first saw it as an entry in the design contest on BGG, and we’ve been waiting (im)patiently ever since! Keep up the great work – we hope to get around to trying some of your print ‘n play games soon and look forward to seeing many more games from you in the future!
    We love Gamewright games!

  7. Drew says:

    Knock Your Blocks Off is definitely a game I want to try. Enjoyed reading this post!

  8. Greg says:

    looks like a really great game.I’m sure me,and my kids will enjoy it very much.

  9. Doug Martin says:

    This game looks to be a winner. Thanks Rebekah! We’ll be looking for it (unless I win the random drawing!)

  10. Rebecca says:

    Wow! This looks really fun! I’m sure my kids would love it! Congratulations on getting your game on the market!

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