March is National Women's History Month! Here at Peaceable Kingdom we celebrate women every day. We are taking the opportunity to highlight our female game inventors and how proud we are to have them on our team! See for yourselves why these women are so great.
My name is Rosie Roberson. I am 39 years old and am the proud mom of three kids – Maisie (17), Cole (14), and Henry (10). I am married to Josh Roberson – my best friend and co-conspirator on game projects (in addition to providing great ideas and feedback, any game piece that would most likely be plastic he makes out of wood for my prototypes!). I’ve had twelve of my card and board games published over the years. In addition to inventing games I also work full time (from home – yay!) as a software designer. We live in beautiful Ashland, Oregon and spend a lot of our time on soccer fields. We have a Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix named Piccolo, a big fluffy cat named Jane (shortened from Skippy Jane Jones - she looked just like Skippy John Jones as a kitten), and are adopting a Sheep-a-doodle puppy (Old English Sheepdog mom and Standard Poodle dad) at the end of the month, who we are naming Einstein. I graduated from Willamette University and still rely on the friendships forged there – next month I am meeting up in Hawaii with about ten of my college girlfriends and am looking forward to play testing my latest prototype (an adult party game) with them! At Willamette I was an art major but also minored in mathematics and computer science. I believe game design taps into all of those areas – plus the writing skills every major was required to have!
When did you begin inventing games?
When my daughter turned five (back in 2005) she received a game, Hiss (by Gamewright), from a friend at her birthday party. Prior to that I didn’t realize new games for kids were being created and published. All I knew were the old standards I had played as a kid – Life, Monopoly, Candy Land, etc. I was so intrigued! I loved the illustrations, and the gameplay was just right for the age range. I started inventing my first game that week – I was excited to have a reason to put my art major to work and quickly grew addicted to the puzzle-like quality of mapping out how the game would play out, figuring out card counts, and inventing game play mechanics that would work.
When and what was the first game that you invented?
The first game I invented was a card game for young kids with a pancake-stacking theme. I re-themed and re-worked it many times over, and it was finally published with a dinosaur theme as Stack-o-Saurus several years later. That was the first game I invented, but the first game I published was called “Clothespins!” – a rummy-like card game where you are hanging laundry on a clothesline. That one was the result of being on bed rest for a couple weeks while pregnant with my youngest son. Due to my particular pregnancy-related issues, I was on bed rest but also not allowed to even watch TV… so I invented a new game! It was picked up by Briarpatch later that year (2007).
What Peaceable Kingdom games have you designed?
What’s It? and Say the Word – both with Joyce Johnson. Out of all the games I have designed and published, What’s It? is the one that gets pulled out to play the most often at my house! It can work for so many age ranges – even just adults – so it fits lots of crowds! When my youngest son was little – before he could read and write – he used to play it with us but draw all his answers (instead of write them). We got such a kick out of hearing him describe his drawings. They all pretty much looked just like the doodle, but he had a specific idea in mind for each. We just made sure to have him share his answers first to keep things fair and square!
What is your favorite memory of Peaceable Kingdom?
I don’t know if this counts as a favorite memory, but Peaceable Kingdom is the only publisher that has used some of my artwork in the final product. Most of the doodles in What’s It? were drawn by me! That is something special! The doodles were an integral part of the design, but I also think that particular outcome was a result of Peaceable Kingdom’s strong relationship with inventors and involving the inventors so closely in the process of bringing games to market.
What is your all-time favorite game to play?
Volleyball! Sorry – you were probably looking for a board game here – but Volleyball definitely takes the top spot! I played all through school, including college. I have coached in the past and have played in a city women’s league for the last 14 years or so. It will be a sad day when I am no longer able to play – I am hoping my shoulder holds out for at least a few more years!
If you had advice to young game inventors what would it be?
Do it! But be sure you have fun along the way. Don’t do it for the outcome, do it for the process. I started designing games because I wanted a reason to do art and have a creative outlet. It has become much more than that, and my reasons have evolved, but I have always done it because I enjoy it. It is not about making big bucks! J
What is your dream theme for a game?
I don’t think there is a dream theme, because any theme can be reality – not just a dream. That’s the fun of being an inventor. You make it happen. There is no reason for a dream theme to stay just a dream! Make it! There are some pretty wacky themes out there – which work in an industry that has fun as one of the top priorities!
When do you find you have your best ideas?
For me, there is no best time for ideas, but I find my ideas come from life and taking the time to be aware of my surroundings, experience new things, and take the time to not only think but act on my ideas. Sometimes ideas are easier than the follow through! As a working mom I am definitely influenced by family life. I have a game coming out this spring that was inspired by adopting our Chihuahua – we were all amused by how he would “dance” on his back legs. So I just had to do a game of dancing Chihuahuas. And a bit more advice for would-be game inventors – be patient and be willing to rework your ideas. I came up with the concept for Cha-Cha Chihuahua back in 2009, and it is just now coming out in stores this year (2017)!