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Business, personal life and relationships benefit when honesty is in practice. To be honest, here is a little information about me. Most people on the internet know me to be an online content producer, but this hasn¶t been my only gig in past years. Writing internet content has been a wonderful and sometimes profitable pastime since retiring from traditional game designing and manufacturing. I¶ve always been involved in the creative fields since my grade school years and game designing has to be my most favorite adventure of my lifetime. Game designing was a career that found me during a time in my life when I was more or less inventing automobile novelties, fishing devices, pet toys and children¶s toys. An opportunity presented itself to design a board game to help raise money to support our local police department, which quickly opened a door to design traditional board games, card games and brainteaser puzzles for the mainstream gaming market. Little did I know, the game industry is dogs eat dog business; that takes years to learn the inner workings, just so to do business. Designing is the easy part of the business, the hard part is nearly everything else. After I designed a card game called ³Smear Strategy Card Game´ in 1993, and that took only fifteen minutes to design and another twenty minutes to draft the first set of game rules; it took another seven years to bring a finished product to market. Manufacturing this card game required designing packaging, designing printing templates, developing point-of-purchase (POP) display cases and working back and forth with hired artists to make a market ready consumer product. The cost of all of this work came in just under $25,000 dollars. Now, we had a market ready card game, but we had no distribution setup, so this was the next thing that we had to setup. Since we were a tiny game design company, we knew that attracting Wal-Mart buyers or Target buyers was going to be next to impossible to do, so we focused on independent game and hobby retailers. Walgreen¶s Drug Store also wasn¶t out of the question either. In 2000, GameStar Designs Inc, traveled to New York City to attend the New York Toy Fair, which is the biggest toy expo in the United States. The trade show booths are incredibly expensive to lease of the five day trade show; some $25 dollars per square foot and not to mention the hotel room rates, food, taxi fares and marketing materials needed. However, this is the biggest toy expo in the United States and if the buyers really like a product, then millions of dollars of orders is up for grabs. We did not sell but a few thousand dollars of product and not nearly enough to cover the cost of attending the show. The coolest thing that I personally remember about the 2000
Toy Fair was the people who created the Billy Bob Singing Bass made their first debut a couple of booths down from ours. I just knew that these guys had designed a multimillion dollar novelty and it didn¶t surprise me in the least, once I learned that a major department store chain purchased a half a million units of the Singing Bass on opening day of the event. As for us, we traveled back to Tennessee prepared to fill the orders that we received and began cold calling major retail buyers all over the world. Slowly we began taken orders from hundreds of small retailers, and then in 2001, we landed a major retail player called Walgreens Drug Store. Walgreens Drug Store began testing our card game in just forty-eight stores in the MidSouth and Smear Strategy Card Game soon exceeded the sales of an extremely popular card game made by Mattel called UNO. Same store sales proved to us and Walgreens, that Smear Strategy Card Game out sold UNO by a 10-1 factor. Maybe because it was a brand spanking new card game or that the retail price was a dollar cheaper, but nevertheless, we were excited to be given a shot in the mainstream marketplace. Designing games and writing internet content require virtually the same kind of marketing to get noticed, but game designing requires thousands of dollars to purchase television and radio advertising, and internet content marketing doesn¶t. They both require a lot of hard work and patience from the designer or author to become successful. They both require honesty to stay successful. The hardest thing that I had to do as a game designer and a partner in a game design company was remain truthful regarding the actual size of our company. The majority of large retailers wouldn¶t even crack a door, if a game company only manufactured one game and only had been in business a very short time. It was very tempting at times to lie about the size of our company, just to hook and land a major multi-national retail account, but we never did. By this time, the investors of GameStar Designs Inc had invested over one-hundred thousand dollars into Smear Strategy Card Game, which only sold 12,000 units in the past 3 years. Nerves were beginning to increase and investments were on the decrease, and I fully understood the reasons as to why. We needed to land a major retailer or cut our losses and move on to the next thing. That is what we eventually did. Everyday, I am reminded of my first exciting venture both as a published game designer and as a partner of a game design company; as I stare at some 19,000 unsold card games stored in my garage. Some have told me that GameStar Designs and the Smear Strategy Card Game was a complete and utter failure, but that is simply untrue. It was a valuable lesson learned and experience gained that no amount of college education could ever teach.
To be perfectly honest with everyone; I had been told over and over again that I didn¶t have want it took to even go about manufacturing a card game. The main reason most people who knew me personally said what they did, is because, I spent over a year in a mental health hospital suffering from a severe nervous breakdown and bi-polar illness. My mental health was in question and a relapse was feared once confronted with extremely stressful situations. Yes, I did spend over a year in a mental health hospital and not just any mental health facility, but a state operated mental health institute. This time in my life was quite difficult. I was eighteen years old and it was the first time I had been away from my home. Most people my age was moving out of their parents¶ home and into an apartment, but I was moving into a state operated mental health hospital, a place where severely mental disturbed people were locked up and fed experimental medications like it was candy. I experienced a hard year of being tested like a lab rat, drugged like a junkie, strapped down in five point restraints and analyzed like a physiology experiment. There was nothing pleasant about being locked up on the forth floor of a five story building for a year and fed unseasoned food for a solid year. The patients that shared my ward were very nice people albeit crazy as a bat. Many of whom, had been transferred to this hospital from another mental hospital, which had a scary track-record of being dangerous. I remember I had a toothache and I needed to see a dentist to take a look at my tooth. An appointment was made for me to see the on-call dentist that the state provides, and I was beyond shocked to learn that he recommended pulling the tooth instead of filling the cavity. There was no way in hell that I was going to agree to that. I begged him to fill the decayed tooth and not to extract the tooth. The dentist then told me in honesty, that he had not filled a tooth in over twenty years. The reason why, it is less expensive to the state, just to pull the teeth of the patients, then to save them only to spend more money to maintain the health of the teeth over time. After a little more begging, the dentist agreed to dust off the old dental drill and drill out the decay and plug the hole with a dental filling. He did and awesome job and it did not hurt not even a little bit. He was honesty with me and I was honest with him, and the final outcome was a perfectly filled tooth and a happy patient. I figured since I was going to be spending some time in the facility; I should try to make the best of things while I was there. I took the time to get to know the other patients and learned how to play hearts, spades and chess. We spent endless hours playing these games both sober and high as a kite. For the first eight months, I had slept in a room by myself, but things all changed after a few new patients had been admitted to the ward. The roommate that shared my room had a violent past. He had beaten his last roommate with a pillowcase filled with pool balls while his roommate slept. I had been warned to sleep with one eye opened, because he
could possibly do it again from what the nurse told me. This was most unwelcomed news to me. So, I did the only thing that I knew to do, so I made it perfectly clear to my new roommate; that if he tried to beat me with a sack full of pool balls, then he¶d better make sure that he killed me or there would be hell to pay. He never raised a hand at me and we had actually become pretty good friends in the process. I think that he respected me ± I think? To keep my mind active, I would spend a couple hours each day, laying out new game designs. Once the designs had been cleared to play with the other patients by the doctors and staff; my new games were tested and played by the patients on my ward. During this time, I discovered a real love for designing games, but it would be a couple of years later before I would try to design games for a career. After a year of what started out to be a hellish experience in my life; turned out to be an awesome life changing experience. My family and friends were confused after learning that I would not change a thing, if I could have done things over again. Spending that year in the mental health hospital helped me mature and discover my love for designing games. I don¶t know if I would have ever pursued game design, if it had not been for my stay in the mental health ward. Operating a game design company isn¶t nearly as stressful as being locked up in a mental health hospital and I know that my experience helped me a great deal when coping with stressful situations in the business world. The mental health experience could have been most terrible, if I had allowed it to snatch my hope away, but my faith in my Lord Jesus Christ kept me from going insane. I knew from day one, that I was not going to be there alone. Christ was with me and he strengthened me to overcome my nervous breakdown and bi-polar illness. I do believe that there isn¶t anything impossible. Life is what we make it, just as long as we don¶t make excuses or quit. The life lesson that I learned from this, is that, honesty is the best policy in everything that I do. In all honesty, what I have just share with you, is a major part of how I became who I am. I am not ashamed of this aspect of my life, because honestly, I needed it at that time in my life or things could have ended badly for me in the future.
By: Nelson Doyle ± http://www.triond.com/users/Nelson+Doyle
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