Frank Juritsch wrote me a few months ago asking if I'd
consider Who Said That?, the game he and Andrew Peters
created, as an addition our Independent Designers Program. As
soon as I read a summary of gameplay I wanted to like this game.
It has such a simple premise: Players write answers to a
question, the answers are read in random order and each player
must guess "who said that?" Well, I asked Frank for a
copy and we gave it a try. I'm happy to say the game did not
disappoint. We played it with a few groups over the Thanksgiving
holiday and I quickly added the game to our program. Who Said
That? is a great social game that offers plenty of laughs
and allows everyone to get to know each other a little better.
I've enjoyed working with Frank and Andrew since we started
carrying their game. When they agreed to grant us an interview, I
took the chance to find out how much work goes into making such a
fun social game.
Mike Petty: To start things off, why did the two of you
decide to make a game together?
Andrew Peters: We've known each other for over 15 years now
and we've spent a lot of time sitting at the dining room table
playing various types of games and had a lot of fun doing it.
Frank Juritsch: From cards to Monopoly to in-depth war games
to trivia games, we've played a lot of them and always had a good
time. I guess playing other people's games sort of inspired us to
take a stab at creating our own and maybe giving people a chance
to enjoy something that we created. So far we think we've done
MP: I'd say you've done very well so far!
AP: Thank you.
MP: Developing a game and getting into the industry is a
huge challenge. Would you say you had a good idea of how hard it
would be when you first decided to make a game?
AP: We certainly didn't go into this blind, but I would be
lying if I said we had anticipated everything that has been
thrown our way. Frank and I have always had the philosophy of
"baby steps". Which is to say that we take each step or
stage of this project one thing at a time. We talk about every
move and get as much outside opinion as we can before we make any
decisions. We trust each other and so far it's worked out OK.
MP: What was the biggest lesson you learned while you
worked on Who Said That?
FJ: I think it's one that we had an idea of before we started
this venture, but have had reinforced repeatedly as we've gone
along. That being as much as we think we've learned to this
point, we've really only scratched the surface and still have a
lot more to learn.
MP: Who Said That? is really a simple concept,
but I think the questions are very well suited and bring the game
to life. How did you come up with all those questions?
FJ: The questions were a long and arduous task for us.
Actually, they were the longest component to put together out of
all the different aspects of Who Said That?. Basically,
we just did some serious brainstorming over the course of many,
many months, sometimes together and sometimes individually, and
compiled a list of about 400 questions.
MP: What criteria did you use to determine which ones
worked and which didn't?
AP: We tried to draw upon personal experience, thoughts
triggered from news events and everyday happenings and concepts
suggested by friends and family. Once we had our 'master list' we
sat down and edited it down to about 200. The initial criteria
was to try to use questions that were suitable for almost anyone
to play, to put together a list that could be suitable for as
large a demographic as we could reach. After we did some initial
play testing, we developed some further parameters. We removed
any questions that were gender specific, for instance "What
movie star would you most like to go out on a date with?",
any multiple choice questions, like "Of the five senses,
which one do you feel you rely on the most?" and any yes or
no questions such as "Do you feel there is too much violence
in the movies and on TV now-a-days?"
FJ: Our primary intent was to lay out a selection of questions
that ideally, would stimulate conversation while playing, because
that's where we felt that the inherent entertainment value of our
game lay, and also what we set out to do when we first came up
with the idea of Who Said That?.
MP: Do you have any favorite questions? And along those
lines, do any answers really stand out over all the times you've
played the game?
FJ: To try and isolate one or two or even a few questions as
our most favorite is difficult because whenever we play, the
dynamics of each question changes depending on who we're playing
AP: For instance, in one game the question "If you could
meet any person out of history, who would it be?" came up
and two of the answers were God and Hitler. You just don't know
what to expect whenever you open up the box.
MP: How did you playtest this game?
AP: Primarily we relied upon friends and family and through
them additional groups that were a little farther removed from us
to try and get as many unbiased reviews as we could.
MP: In the overall development and marketing of this game,
what's been most difficult?
FJ: Well, each phase had its own unique trials and
tribulations. Designing a play system that allowed for as much
flexibility as possible was pretty tricky. Going back and forth
with the graphic artist was frustrating at times. The questions
were in a category all of their own.
AP: The actual production, once all the ground work was done,
wasn't too bad. Now, we're into the marketing phase and it's
presenting all of it's own little hiccups as we go along. The
biggest issue however, which we've encountered throughout the
course of the whole project, is the resources that you have to
employ and manage when undertaking something of this magnitude.
FJ: Time and money, those are the two biggest factors that
we've had to juggle in every step of the project. generally, when
we have one, we don't have the other. Or, we don't have either.
That's when perseverance, and sometimes pure stubbornness, is all
that you have to rely on to see you through. One of the things
that we're repeatedly told is that overnight successes don't
happen overnight, they usually take a few years. If that's the
case, then we're pretty much due for a breakout year any year now.
We've learned that the game industry is run on a bit of a paradox.
Without mentioning any names, we've been playtested and approved
any a number of large chains in both Canada and the US but they
won't carry us on their shelves until we're "mainstream".
We look at that and say "How are we supposed to become
"mainstream" if you won't put us on your shelves?".
Somewhere someone got off the logic train there. Whether it's us
or them we don't know yet.
MP: This is a game about expression and communication. In
the games I've played, you really get to know people. I wondered
if you've had any comments or thanks from players really shows
how this game brings people together.
FJ: We do get some really good positive feedback from people
that have played the game and that really makes us feel good. It
gives us a solid feeling of accomplishment. We've actually had
praise from people affiliated with counseling associations that
use our game as a counseling tool, which to be quite honest with
you, blows us away. We set out to create a game that people could
sit down and spend a little quality time with their friends and
family and have a few laughs with them. Now we're discovering
that people believe it's a viable medium to promote communication
and self-expression in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. We never
would've guessed it.
MP: Do you produce any other games or have others in the
AP: Yes, we do have other games on the drawing board. We
actually have one that we were prepared to bring to market about
five or six years ago but we would have ended up losing about $10
on every one that we sold. Even being new to the business, we
figured that wasn't a good way to launch our company. We are
however looking at adapting it to a computer environment so we
can't really divulge too much about the concept at this point in
time but if we get it to work we think it'll fly pretty good.
FJ: It's nothing like Who Said That?, but it was that
game that spurned the creation of Finchetto Games Company and
ultimately led us to where we are now. Hopefully, it'll lead us
to a more prosperous future too.
MP: We look forward to your future projects. Thanks to
both of you for your time!
AP: It's our pleasure, Thank-you.
FJ: Thanks for the opportunity to share some of our story Mike.
We've really enjoyed this.