"Derivation" Board Game

Kathleen E. Miller millerk at NYTIMES.COM
Wed Dec 4 14:27:49 UTC 2002

Don't remember seeing this mentioned and I checked the archives - so, for
anyone who's interested...

Microsoft retiree turned game maker found
                     that clichés kept springing to mind

                     By Brier Dudley
                     Seattle Times technology reporter

                     For Brad Chase, a high-profile Microsoft
                     executive who left the company last year,
                     retirement has been fun and games,

                     The man who orchestrated the launch of
                     Windows 95 and ran MSN is launching his
                     own product today, a board game called
                     Derivation that will be sold in part to raise
                     money for charities. The launch comes the
                     same day his former baby, MSN, kicks off
                     its latest version.

                     Chase, 42, first came to Microsoft in 1987
                     and was one of a string of high-ranking
                     executives who have left in recent years. In
                     1999, he testified for the company in its
                     federal antitrust trial.

                     He said he considered working for another
                     company or teaching. Instead he's
                     spending much of his time developing and
                     marketing the game out of his Mercer
                     Island home.

                     An organized person who favors using
                     motivational goals, Chase had decided that
                     his priorities in retirement were fun, flexibility,
family and philanthropy — "the f
                     sounds," he said.

                     "As I worked on this game, I realized it was
fulfilling everything I wanted," he

                     At least 25 percent of after-tax profits from the
$29.95 game will be donated to
                     charities, including Mercer Island-based Teachers
Without Borders and the
                     national Reading is Fundamental program. Chase said
he'll donate to the
                     charities no matter how the game fares.

                     Inspiration struck at a barbecue in the summer of
2001. He noticed the language
                     he and his friends were using was littered with common
phrases — some would
                     say clichés — including "cart before the horse" and
"happy as a clam." He
                     began wondering where the phrases came from, and
decided that had the
                     makings of a game.

                     Derivation comes with cards with hundreds of phrases,
words and quotes and
                     their origins. Players advance by correctly guessing
the origins, or by making up
                     origins and bluffing other players into believing they
are true.

                     Players may also progress by drawing pictures or
acting out origins that are
                     correctly guessed by other players.

                     Chase started too late to get widespread distribution
for this holiday season but
                     the game will be available at various Seattle-area toy
and game stores.

                     It's a tough business to enter, said Gary Teachout,
who is adding Derivation to
                     the roughly 8,000 games at his Gary's Games store in
Greenwood. About 1,500
                     to 2,000 new games are introduced every year and fewer
than 100 remain in
                     business longer than a year, he said.

                     "It's a real brutal business," he said. "The biggest
problem is getting the game
                     to market. Too many people get a great idea for a
game, design the thing, get it
                     made and then when it's stuck in their basement they
have no idea how to get it
                     to market."

                     Teachout said people in the software industry are
particularly drawn to games
                     because their training is in logical, strategic thinking.

                     Having taken some of the most successful software
products in history to
                     market could give Chase an edge. He also has money to
get started and said
                     he has already invested "six figures."

                     Chase developed Derivation using the Office software
he marketed at Microsoft.
                     He started by building spreadsheets of definitions,
word origins and quotes.

                     Once he had the game laid out he hired an old business
associate, the artist
                     who designed the boxes for MS-DOS and Windows 95, to
give the game a
                     professional look.

                     The game is being sold through a company Chase formed
called Entspire —
                     derived from the words entertain and inspire — that is
working on its second

                     Entspire is developing a line of books called "Whitz,"
collections of funny
                     stories. Chase is encouraging people to submit funny
stories, which he will
                     publish and share proceeds with charities.

                     Chase came up with the idea on a trip to New York when
his brother-in-law told
                     him a particularly funny story. Who knows what he'll
come up with next.

                     Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or bdudley at seattletimes.com.

                     Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company

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