Meet the Surprise Green Lake Makers Behind Games From Mattel, Cranium and More
Next time you open a board game take a look at the side of the box. See this logo? (The one in the top right corner.) If so, that game has roots to Green Lake. (Specifically, just a hop skip and a jump away – on Roosevelt Way near 50th) is Forrest- Pruzan, a workshop of game makers.
The game development company works on every facet of a game from the rules to the pieces and how people interact and hopefully get hooked and enjoy hours of play. Chances are if you’ve opened a board game in the past decade or two the folks at Forest-Pruzan worked on it, from companies such as Cranium, Mattel, Chronicle Books, Ravensburger to many more.
The Forrest-Pruzan folks took me on a tour of their office and a peek behind the curtain of what it takes to make a board game.
First it should be said that like most things there is a lot that goes into making a game. It’s not just the concept (although that can be a hurdle too). Although each game is different, game development typically takes about 6-9 months. And walking around the game studio you can see there is a ton involved.
The game library is a gamers dream. But as we weave through their office I find inspiration throughout their office. From a prototype room that has rows of boxes of textures, shapes and colors of every possible widget you could imagine. The office’s 3d printer has created some of those pieces but some are off the shelf too. Forrest-Pruzan has 20 employees from game designers, game producers, illustrators, designers, copy editors and photographers.
But a big part of what they do is user testing to make sure that the game is engaging. And that is done in their office behind a one way mirror in groups of only a few users (often kids but sometimes adults). The testing room is set up like a casual living room, which is warm and inviting. During the play test sessions the testers play the game while the folks at Forrest-Pruzan watch from behind the mirror, recording interactions and taking in the observations from participants of what is working and wasn’t.
Every year Forrest-Pruzan creates around 60 games.
Testers shown on a front wall range in age from 3+ and have a lot of fun in the game testing process.
Testers are paid with a big bag of treats/swag and get a copy of the game they tested when it is published. If that game isn’t sent to market, Forrest-Pruzan makes sure they get a new equally cool game. Forrest-Pruzan has thousands of game testers but is always looking for more. If you or your family would like to add your name to their database go to their site to find out more.