Make Your Own Game
An Interview With G. Tommy
By Steve Gillman
If you have ever thought to make your own game and market
it, chances are good that--like most of us--you never quite got
around to it. Ideas are cheap, and taking action is all too uncommon.
But G. Tommy wasn't content to just dream about making a game.
He actually did it. Brain
Swaggle (tm), which is something of a cross between chess
and scrabble, will be available soon as an online game as well
as a board game. I asked Tommy about the process of developing
and marketing his creation.
Prior to this current project
you had some experience running a fitness center and you made
exercise videos for parents of newborns. Can you tell us briefly
Total Fitness was located in N.E.Ohio and was well known as
the fun place to work out. As owner/operator, I knew
that levity would be an important piece of the equation. Getting
a deconditioned individual to work out even for free
has always been somewhat of a challenge. Now, imagine the effort
needed to get them to sign a 12 month agreement to pay you every
hence the value placed on levity! However, we knew
that that alone wouldnt be enough, so we moved into a building
with over 5,000 sqare feet and added massage therapy, tanning,
martial arts, and step aerobics
At the time I was a single
father of a 1 year old boy and had to work long hours 6-7 days
per week, and surely didnt want someone else raising my
son. That, accompanied with the encouragement of many of the
lady members, we added a playroom for kids. Without question,
the playroom helped us tap into the moms with small children
It didnt take too long before it was obvious that the
bigger percentage of mothers with children still could not join
us, they either had 3+ children which was a workout in itself
to pack them up and go anywhere, a new born child or they were
a one-car family.
As Plato said Necessity
is the mother of Invention
So, I knew that it was time to focus my energy on tapping in
to the creative part of my brain. Fortunately, Steve, I too believe
wholeheartedly in the ability to train our mind to tap into the
alpha brain frequency, at will. Thats when
the idea to create a video for that niche arrived and the ABCC
of Exercise was born. After Baby Comes
Exercise, was developed/designed
with 14 exercises that actually utilized the newborn child as
the weights or resistance. Each exercise focused
on the mommy or caregiver holding the child securely, in most
cases heartbeat to heartbeat strengthening the bond while nurturing
a loving relationship. At the risk of sounding pompous, It was
actually very cool and well received. We sold quite a few of
them, and were able to appear live on several television stations
throughout N.E. Ohio.
With the success that we experienced locally, it was my goal
to share the idea with an exercise guru in hopes of a partnership.
Silly, young naïve me, I quickly learned the importance
of completely covering ones ass and protecting a project to the
fullest extent before trusting even a celebrity. It wasnt
more than 10 weeks after I sent the video out to California and
hadnt heard back yet that one morning while eating breakfast
out in town that lo-and-behold, there it was on television, suddenly
my appetite was gone! Of course the name had been changed and
I couldnt do a thing about it because you cannot protect
a concept. So, a hard lesson was learned here I assure you, and
as they say
What made you decide to make your
own game and market it?
with my love of playing games and the
popularity of games in general, I thought, it would be pretty
cool to create a game that people liked and wanted to play.
I notice that you have a neurosurgeon
who endorses Brain Swaggle. How did you get that endorsement?
The game is quite intricate and specific, after I had the
rules and instructions copyrighted, I was able to relax knowing
that there was no way that it could be copied again
without it being a copyright infringement. Next, it was time
to talk to a select few friends of mine that are physicians,
with the goal of getting their opinion and then asking them to
think of anybody that they knew in the neurological field. An
introduction was made, and I met with Dr. Rickson to play and
discuss the merits of Brain Swaggle and the rest is history or
history in the making!
I understand that you already
have several school systems interested in using the game as an
educational tool. How did you generate that interest, and will
marketing to schools be a big part of your sales plan?
I felt very strongly about the potential for this to be utilized
as an educational tool in the school systems. So, I began to
research what other games were being utilized within the schools.
I was amazed at just how many schools were using scrabble and
chess as additional learning resources. Some 20,000 plus schools
and over 1 million students were benefiting from these two. It
made sense to me that by combining the strengths of these two
games into one game, it just might have a shot! Test marketing
would be paramount and has played a crucial role in the decision
making. I needed to get in touch with key administrators such
as superintendents, directors of instruction and teachers of
local school systems to arrange meetings. I learned early on
the importance of asking people for their professional opinion.
In general it makes people feel good to be asked that question;
I can honestly say that I have never said no to that request.
I believe that the school systems will be a key piece of the
overall marketing strategy. There are more than 132,000 school
systems in the U.S. alone. When I look at our current success
with the schools that I have spoken to, I feel confident that
we will be introduced and accepted into 18%-22% of them. Next,
factor in friends and families of the students/faculty and the
potential is significant.
In what other ways will you market
Bob Dylan said it best The Times, They Are A-Changin
The traditional methods of marketing, cold-calling, advertising
through print, television, and the likes, "outbound marketing"
is no longer well received. Consumers now-a-days are much
more savoy and do NOT want to experience the in-your-face
approach. However, I believe that there is still merit in that
approach, if you know where, when and how to do it effectively.
A good example is when dealing with senior citizens, for the
most part they are set in their ways and will fight off change
to the end!
Heres an example of what I mean. We have just started
contacting the senior citizens at independent living centers,
retirement communities and senior apartments. We will be offering
the residents the opportunity to beat the creators of Brain
Swaggle at their own game the response has been very promising
and lots of fun!
The new marketing strategy and quite frankly soon to be the
only marketing approach is inbound marketing
which is blogging, tweeting and all social networking sites.
To have any hope of being successful you must first earn the
trust of a consumer. That is done by sharing your experience,
education, and useful knowledge that will benefit and or help
the consumer. Whether that helps people better their career,
improve their personal life, increase their brain power or help
educate them on other areas of interest. Then of course once
you earn their trust, you have a much better chance of earning
Lastly, we have some fun and creative incentives to get our
worldwide audience interested in our on-line game, however that
is Top Secret ha ha! We will be sharing that and
much more at our website as soon as our software is completed
and ready for everyone to play for FREE -- should be ready around
September 12, 2011.
Do you have plans to license your
game--to let some large company handle all the details--or will
you manage the manufacturing, marketing and distribution on your
At this point Steve, I have little interest in expending any
energy trying to get the Big Boys interested. Once
we create a buzz in the industry, I may feel differently. My
projections and belief system tell me that I may not have to
go that route. To be quite honest with you, I would rather have
independent mom and pop stores on board with me,
we will most likely approach those located near and around the
school systems that we are in. Id really like to see these
independent stores get in on this and then reap the benefits
associated with referrals from schools. Plus, that also makes
more sense when it comes to distribution.
I imagine you have had a fairly
large investment in this project so far. Is this something you've
borrowed for, done from savings, or have you had investors?
I am glad that you asked this question
I will be sharing
my knowledge with any and all people interested in learning how
I did this and all my other projects while using
little or none of my own money. It really isnt that difficult
and anybody can do it
my blogs will be explaining all of
this in great detail. Sorry, I got side tracked plugging my site,
I hope you dont mind.
At first, I called a few game manufacturers to get some pricing
on having a couple prototypes made, and when they told me what
they charge for 2 or 3 games, I actually laughed! I was quoted
$700-$1,000 and that did NOT include the graphic design work.
I checked around and the graphic design work was going to cost
anywhere from $2,500 -$3,000 or more. Now, we were looking at
spending a minimum of $3,200 up to $4,000 with the potential
for increased costs due to any unseen difficulties. Well, that
to me seemed a touch ludicrous, so I contacted an Art Institute
in Ohio and made some arrangements to have a student work with
me on this. I was able to get 4 games completed and all the graphic
design work done for $765.00.
The web site, which is not a finished site yet, but a fantastic
Now, in order for Brain Swaggle to be played on-line, a software
program will need to be designed and developed to my exact specifications.
Through my research, and talking to computer programmers and
or I.T. professionals, this would cost between $25,000 - $35,000
or more! As I mentioned earlier the software isnt quite
ready to play, but it looks like it will cost me around $1,750
to complete (one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars)
While sharing all of this along with the marketing strategies
to some friends and associates, I was able to acquire $30,000
in seed money. Sadly, I may be forced to pay standard rates for
the actual manufacturing of the game, at least for now! I will
order the minimum, 1,000 games on the first run and that will
cost approx. $11,000
When will the game be available
for purchase to the general public?
Well, we are shooting for a Mid-Oct launch of the board game;
it has been delayed due to a few unforeseen delays.
What has been the toughest part
of the process so far?
Im not sure; there have been hurdles every step of the
way. I guess if I had to choose one it would be negotiating the
Do you have other games in the
works, and how soon do you hope to have those on the market?
We do, there are 3 additional games currently in the developmental
stage. We feel good about having the support of law enforcement
agencies on these. But, we still have quite a bit to do on this
first game after we launch it. In the not too distant future
(by year end) Brain Swaggle will allow people to play against
each other worldwide!
Thank You G.
G. Tommy expects to have videos that demonstrate the game
on YouTube and on his website by September 12, 2011. To learn
more, visit the website: BrainSwaggle.com