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November 11, 2009 > The Best Party Game

The Best Party Game

By Alyson Whitaker
Photos By courtesy of Serengeti Systems

When thinking of board games, names like Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, or Monopoly are the first to come to mind. But board games aren't just for kids. More and more adults are turning to social gatherings at home in place of expensive nights out on the town. Ice-breakers and conversational games are gaining popularity at an increasing rate as an entertaining and inexpensive way to spend an evening with friends.

Such was the thinking of Calvin Hamilton and Sarah Henry of Fremont, when they created 'The Best Party Game'-a social board game.

After attending a series of 'Millionaire Mind' seminars about ways to earn passive income, the two friends decided to form a corporation - Serengeti Systems, LLC - but had no idea what product or service to offer. One day in 2007, Calvin came bursting through Sarah's door with a hair-brained idea, "Let's create a board game for open-minded adults!"

With no toy experience or industry connections, the two set about the process of creating the game. It started with hand-written questions on index cards. They then tested the game on a group of friends. Critiques, comments, and suggestions helped in the development process. Prototypes were created, and then scratched when design or concept flaws were revealed.

The pair realized the importance of internet marketing early on, and knew that to succeed, their web address would need to be catchy, match the name of their game, and be found with a variety of search criteria. Stringing a series of name combinations together, they finally found one that had an available URL, and would match their goal - to create the best party game for adults. Thus, 'The Best Party Game' was born.

The object of the game is simple, players spin to win on a colorful board as the arrow lands on one of six categories of thought-provoking questions or playful improvisations. Questions range from 'Short and Sweet' to 'Digging Deep', giving players the opportunity to choose from varying degrees of personal disclosure. Step out of your comfort zone with an improvisation such as, "Stand up and give yourself a magnificent introduction, listing all your amazing superlative attributes." Bravery is summoned when a player is instructed to "Pantomime a striptease." Laughter erupts when a player tries to "Write your name simultaneously with both hands." Quickly get to know a date or new friend with questions like "What are two of your vices?" or "Knowing what you know today, what advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?"

The game invites players to discuss topics that might otherwise be left untouched, such as politics, religion, and social issues. Frank questions about sex and sexuality are included in the 'Delicious' category. Potentially embarrassing questions and activities turn up the heat in the 'Doghouse." Some questions or activities involve the whole group, while others are quick and easy to answer individually. Points are awarded by fellow players, so the deeper the answers, or the greater the willingness to perform an activity, the higher each player's score. Sexual categories may be left out for a milder version of the game, making it less risky for certain gatherings.

Later this month, Sarah and Calvin will travel to Chicago with their first lot of 5,000 boxed games, ready to market to potential retailers at two of the biggest toy shows in the country.

The duo has met many roadblocks along the way, testing their perseverance. They have faced design challenges, financial struggles, dashed hopes, and lack of response from potential manufacturers. Through it all, they have hung in there, with the hope and belief that their game will one day be a hit. The inventors of Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Monopoly could never have imagined the decades of enjoyment by the millions of people who play their games. Who knows where 'The Best Party Game' will go from here?

'The Best Party Game' is currently available for purchase at People Print in NewPark Mall and retails for $24.95.

In the spirit of gratitude, Serengeti Systems has committed to donating five percent of its profits to One Mama (www.onemama.org), an organization that provides health and education assistance to impoverished countries around the world.

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