It was all fun and games for Andrew Innes until he realized he’d invented something people love.
The 1992 Oberlin College graduate returned to the city this past Saturday to show off his card game “Anomia” in front of Ben Franklin and MindFair Books, 13 West College St.
After independently raising $20,000 to self-publish the game in 2009, it’s now available in 16 languages across North America in outlets such as Target and Barnes & Noble.
“Anomia is based on a game I used to play with regular cards,” Innes said. “I finally thought one day, ‘Let me make a prototype and see what people think.’ That started the whole process of getting moving to where things are at today.”
Opposing players flip over cards until they have matching categories. That’s when the race begins to come up with a specific example of that category.
“It’s a fast-paced party game based on symbol matching and certain common knowledge,” he said. “There’s a bit of pop culture, but it’s more about general knowledge. Answers can be real, from a work of fiction, or from your community. For example, if you have to think of the name of a musician, it could be your Uncle Bob or Mozart. It can be anyone.”
Now living in Boston, Innes said trial and error was key in taking Anomia from vision to reality. Since being published, the game has earned a seal of approval from the National Parenting Council as well as awards from Toy Directory Monthly and the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association.
“You make a version of your game and then play it with real people,” he said. “Observe their responses and begin refining from there. I did that for five years with Anomia because I didn’t have a tight timeline and was just doing it for fun. Once I finally finished the game, it was only then I finally thought I should get it made into a product.”
Innes is also the founder of Anomia Press, which manufactures his namesake game as well as Duple, in which players race to shout a word containing letters on a card held by each participant.
“The ideas were in my head for a long time,” he said. “I always wondered if I could make them into a viable product. I didn’t know it would go as far as it has. The main driver was just challenging myself and seeing if it was actually possible.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.