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Inventing a Brain Game
An Interview With G. Tommy

Have you ever though about inventing your own game? G. Tommy not only thought about it; he created a game of mental exercise called Brain Swaggle (tm), which will be available to play online, as well offline as a board game. It's set to be released in October of 2011, and Tommy already has several school systems (in three States) which plan to use both versions as educational tools. As regular visitors here and subscribers to my Brainpower Newsletter know, I have an interest not only in the brain and mind, but also in new inventions and ideas. So I was happy to get a chance to ask Tommy about the process he has gone through to get his new game produced.

What did you do before you decided to invent and market a new game?

Well Steve, I have dabbled in a few arenas - I have 16 years in the fitness industry, 10 of which were spent as owner/operator of a fitness center. During that time I became a personal trainer and a licensed muscular therapist (Ohio State Medical Board).

We offered child care to encourage more mothers to join. However, many of the mothers either had too many children to bring in, or they were a “one car” family. Being a single dad encouraged me to create an exercise video for mothers or (dads) with newborns, the ABC’s of Exercise, “After Baby Comes, Exercise”. This video was created for the “stay home” mommy and had 14 exercises where the newborn was utilized as the resistance or weight. Then as the baby grew heavier, the resistance increased allowing mommy to continually see improvements. All of these exercises were done with the focus on bonding and nurturing a loving relationship between mommy and baby! Then a national chain moved into our town and that was the end of my fitness center and the momentum for the video took a hit as well.

I’ve always had trouble conforming to corporate America, so I knew that was out! Then I started thinking about how much my son loved it when I read to him and how cool it would it be to read a book to my son that I wrote. So, that being said, I found myself doing just that. However, it happened to be around 9-11-01 and NO publishing company would accept any submissions or packages of any kind. So now I had to get creative! With much research I decided to self-publish. Had some great fun with personal appearances and such, then a big dose of life hit me and sadly momentum was lost here as well!

After a short “licking my wounds” break, I decided to get back into the personal training arena for the next six years or so. I became quite tired of that, which brings me to my latest endeavor!

Where did the idea for a brainpower-related game come from?

Quite frankly, I was always the guy recognized for continually taking every IQ test that I could find. My two favorite past times have always been stimulating my brain and my love of music. Without question for the past 35 years chess and all word games have been at the top of my list. Then just joking around one day with a friend I said, “How cool would it be to play a game that combined both chess and scrabble”! Well, that “joke” began to fester in my mind and I was once again on a mission.

I see that you use the tagline, "Where Chess Meets Scrabble." How exactly does the game resemble either or both of these games?

Imagine combining the strategy of chess with all other word games, building words one letter at a time. Be the first player to complete a word on their turn with 5 letters or more, however, players take turns choosing a letter until a word is completed. Each letter chosen must continue to build a valid word when added to all previously given letters. Each time an opponent chooses a letter, it can change your word. So, in essence a player must think one, two or three letters (moves) ahead at all times, which is the chess portion. Then, the ability to scroll through and recall most every word in your memory bank that uses all the previously chosen letters, while accurately spelling the words…is the scrabble portion. We will have videos of people playing and an instructional video posted on our site and youtube @ September 12th.

Almost any challenging game exercises our mental abilities, but what kind of mental stimulation or practice do you think your game provides more specifically?

Well, I think Neurosurgeon Dr. Rickson says it best ““Brain Swaggle is very strategic and loads of fun; it certainly requires and stimulates global brain power”. It’s been proven that intellectual stimulation on a regular basis does stave off Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia. Currently, somebody is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia every 77 seconds and that number is predicted to be every 33 seconds by the year 2050!

In preparing to produce and market the game, have you played it with friends, family and others in order to try it out?

Absolutely Steve, test marketing played a crucial role in the decision making. The feedback from family and friends was positive. I then contacted some superintendents and teachers of local school systems to arrange a meeting. Now, it began to get exciting, because they recognized the potential for Brain Swaggle to be utilized as a fun educational tool. The students would be the next crucial stage of our test marketing. So, with the help of Jacinda who is a gifted student coordinator, the date was set to introduce this to the students! After playing, I had all 12 students complete a questionnaire (no names allowed) to get their honest feedback, again very positive results. Lastly, I felt that if I could get an endorsement from a Neurosurgeon or Neuroscientist that my test marketing would be an over-all success.

What was you biggest challenge in creating the game?

The biggest challenge for me to this point has been condensing the rules or instructions. I would have to say that the game itself is easier to play then trying to explain “How To” play it. We have spent over 20 man hours on this part alone!

Assuming you do well with this one, do you have other games you have been developing or thinking about?

Actually, there are 3 additional games in the developmental stages that we are excited about. We feel pretty confident that we will have support from law enforcement agencies on our next couple of games…and quite frankly, I’m every bit as excited about these as I am about Brain Swaggle, if not a little bit more!

I'm looking forward to seeing the coming videos and then the release of this new brain game. Thank you G.

To learn more, visit the website Brain Swaggle.


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