About Jenga: The Remarkable Business of Creating a Game That Became a Household Name

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Greenleaf Book Group, Oct 1, 2009 - Business & Economics - 238 pages
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Millions have played the game Jenga, but few know the surprising story of the woman who created the game. From cattle ranches in Africa to the royal tennis courts in London, the story of Leslie Scott and Jenga weaves an adventurous tale of personal triumph and business success with keen insights into the secrets behind launching one of the best-known brands in the world.An English expatriate born and raised in Africa, Scott became a phenomenally successful woman in the male-dominated toy business through relentless curiosity and tenacious belief. Her unconventional path to success was driven by her unorthodox approach, her penchant for risk, and her passion for adventure. Along the way, she came to understand how certain ideas transform themselves into successful products. Through expert storytelling, Scott illuminates basic business concepts with unconventional linkages from explaining what African cattle and medieval heraldry can teach us about branding to discovering the keys to market differentiation by examining a coral reef.Scott entertains with style, grace, and free-flowing intellect. Enter a fascinating world of creative success, practical business lessons, and hilarious but true stories.

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Jenga: a name that's synonymous with toppling wooden blocks, and for many people, long hours of good-natured gaming with their friends and family. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most ... Read full review

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Jenga: a name that's synonymous with toppling wooden blocks, and for many people, long hours of good-natured gaming with their friends and family. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most simplistic game ever packaged. The fact that Jenga might have a living creator seems odd, right? Hasn't it been around, well, <i>forever?</i>
Leslie Scott, one of the few professional game designers in the world, is in fact, the designer of Jenga. And her game-to-fame (haha) hit the shelves less than thirty years ago.
Scott grew up with her family in Africa, and during the long, hot summers, they would play a game that involved stacking simple wooden blocks on top of each other until the tower toppled. It took her years to realize the novelty of this game, and longer still to realize how marketable Jenga could be. <i>About Jenga: the Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Household Name</i>--written by the creator of Jenga herself—charts Scott's journey from humble homemade game, to family-night fun that rocked the nation.
Jenga—which comes from the Swahili word for <i>to build</i>--didn't have any easy beginning. Scott suffered through bad business relationships, patent and branding troubles, insufficient funds and lack of a platform for her game for years, until Jenga finally hit the market. But—and you know this if you've ever played the game—Jenga has a sort of magic to it that draws people near, and this magic proved invaluable as Jenga's prowess reached first a small circle of friends, and then a circle of companies, and finally encircled the world with a pair of wooden arms.
<i>About Jenga</i> has a lot of untapped potential. Whereas Scott could have used this publication to share stories about her customers, or light anecdotes about creating Jenga, she instead decided to fill page after page with business transactions and details of her trade. This is fantastic if you're looking for a comprehensive, report-like guide to the toy industry. But it isn't so great if you go into this wanting funny comments and witty charms about the people who played Jenga, and how much fun it was to create the game. The writing is rather dry.
Scott's writing is very academic, which is to be expected of a non-fiction book. However, this academic-ness impeded her storytelling abilities, and overall hindered the few narrative qualities that this book had. Often times, she gave too many explanations-of-explanations, and it was easy to forget exactly what she was talking about in the first place. Not that these tangents aren't entertaining—many are—but more often then not, Jenga's story becomes more like a biography of the toy industry.
Like many people whose hobby becomes their full time job, Leslie Scott seems to think that Jenga is just another game. And in a way, it is…much in the same way that Disney World is just another theme park. But if you read a book about Disney World, or its creator, Walt Disney, you'll find something that leaves you reminiscing about face paint and light parades and your first ride on that flying Dumbo carousel. This missing spark of nostalgia was one of the biggest downfalls of <I>About Jenga</i>, and that's really too bad.
So if you're looking for a comprehensive guide to the toy industry, and a warning about the many possible mistakes one can make while marketing a game—you'll love this book. And if you are a toy aficionado, or Jenga-obsessive, you'll probably like it as well. However, if you go into this looking for a summer read, or something light and fun, you'll be disappointed.


one Building Blocks
tWo An unlikely oxford educAtion
tHRee intel inside
seVen trAdemArks And other hAzArds
eIGHt tAking JengA to AmericA
tWelVe giftwrApped gAmes
tHIRteen the powerful Art of BrAnding
FoURteen But is it Art?
FIFteen JengA As metAphor

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About the author (2009)

Leslie Scott was born to an expatriate family in Africa and educated in England. She is the creator of Jenga, the second-best selling game in the world, and the co-founder of Oxford games. One of the world s few professional game designers, Scott spends her time in the Oxford countryside and the African plains with her two children and her husband.

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