Check out the below article written by our CEO, Al Waller. His views on connecting with his family are a great reminder for all of us during the stressful holiday season!
One CEO’s Mission… Increasing the Happiness Factor of the Planet,
and Connecting with His Children through Game Play
By Al Waller
CEO Out of the Box Publishing
Parenting can be stressful for parents and their children. As a father of five, I deal with many parenting challenges, including listening to my teenager tell me why she has to wear a skirt twelve inches above her knees or why my other daughter needs to stay out past 1 a.m. To alleviate some of this tension, I have looked for ways to connect with my kids ever since they were toddlers. Lately, I find myself asking, “What can I do today to connect with my teenagers?” This search for connection is one of the main reasons I am in the game business. Games are a social activity that allows you to connect with your kids on a different, more relaxed level. Games bring my family together and make us all a little happier. I want to bring that connection and happiness to others, especially during these stressful times.
We’ve developed all kinds of new ways to communicate with one another—from email, to texting, to Facebook pages. These electronic forms all serve a purpose, but the important face-to-face, personal connection is being lost. I believe we can make that connection through playing great, fast, and fun non-electronic games. The results can be amazing!
Let me tell you how I formed my philosophy on games and happiness. Before we started Out of the Box Publishing, winning was the most important thing to me whether it was another business venture, tennis, backgammon or even playing a board game with my family. Then, one day a co-worker and I played a game called Bosworth. After we finished, he asked me what I thought, and I replied, “It was okay, but I didn’t win.” It was then that I experienced a turning point in my life and my career. He said to me, “If you are going to make it in the game business, you have to look at the process of play as more than just winning and losing!”
From that point on, I began to learn to enjoy playing a game for its own sake—not just to win. I found it fascinating, not only professionally, but within my own family, to observe the changes that can take place when people “just play a game.”
I started to have some great “Aha!” moments—like the one during Christmas at my Mother’s house, a few years back. All the presents had been opened, and there we sat in a room full of people, ages 12 to 75. “What do we do now?” I pulled out a prototype of Backseat Drawing, a game we had in development. It’s a game where teams race to identify drawings done by one of their own team members (who has no idea what he or she is being told to draw). It was great fun when my mother, by following directions given by my 13 year old, was able to correctly guess she had drawn a “cat.” Soon, everyone joined in the game, laughing and sharing and making memories. My kids still talk about the magic of that Christmas.
I began to have other “Aha!” moments in which I learned to recognize that the process of play is fundamental to our growth as individuals. When my oldest daughter was in middle school, I chaperoned one of her field trips. A group of girls were playing kickball and I joined in. When I began to keep score, they informed me that they didn’t want to keep score. I could not believe it! “How could they not want to keep score? What is more important than winning?” I thought. They just wanted to connect and have fun together!
Understanding that concept led to a quantum shift in my thinking and planted the seed for a new perspective on life. Perhaps, this world would be a little stronger and happier if we all just played together a little more.
In my quest to connect with my own family through games, I have found a concept that reaches beyond my own home. People email me or come up to me at trade shows all the time and say things like…“Your games changed our lives and playing games has really helped our family bond!” Moments like these are why I am in the game business.