"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
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
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
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
The game is being sold through a company Chase formed
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
More information about the Ads-l