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Interview with Brian Rovner of Smart Games

Smart Games is a producer of three-dimensional puzzle games that cater to people of all ages. Many of their sets are small enough to be ideal for travel while a few in the preschool line–namely the new “Snow White Deluxe” item–can double as playsets.

Smart Toys and Games products develop logical thinking and problem-solving skills in all ages through fun, challenging play. Each multi-level game from the line is designed to move players through carefully sequenced levels of game play. Fun, durable and compact, many SmartGames are perfect for travel and the construction sets enable children to explore the fascinating world of magnetism in a safe and creative way through making strong building structures and vehicles.

The company is the creator of the popular “GeoSmart” and “SmartMax” series. They also created “Tangoes” series which is derived from the ancient Chinese Tangram puzzle and combines artistic and mathematical elements to create a variety of designs; and online brain-building fun for both children and adults alike.

Recently Brian Rovner, the VP Marketing at Smart Games, discussed the company and its’ goals.

Meagan Meehan (MM) of Entertainment Vine: What promoted the creators of Smart Games to create the company and focus on puzzle toys?

IMG_8892Brian Rovner (BR): Smart Games is a Belgian company that was founded as a distributor in Europe. Gradually we started developing our own ideas for games and became a manufacturer, and SmartGames was born. We’re actually approaching the 25thanniversary of the company now!

MM: How do you think up the ideas for these offbeat and brain teasing three-dimensional puzzles? For instance, are they all created in-house or can people submit ideas to you for consideration?

BR: In the past there was a combination of developing our own ideas and licensing other properties. But we have an incredible team of designers in Belgium led by Raf Peeters, a noted game developer, and just about all of our games are now developed in-house.

IMG_8888MM: Right now, how many items does Smart Games offer? 

BR: We currently have around fifty titles. They are divided into several categories, including travel-friendly packages and a robust preschool line.

MM: What are some of your most unusual products? Which are most popular? 

BR: We like to think they are all unusual…but you’ll find some pretty unique game features and play patterns in games such as Three Little Piggies, Trucky 3, Color Code, and Penguins on Ice. Currently our most popular titles include Jump In’, Quadrillion, IQ Twist and Little Red Riding Hood.

MM: Were any designs particularly difficult to render? If so, which ones and why?

IMG_8890BR: Of course games that offer new features are more difficult to render, take more time to develop. A good example is Snow White, new this year. It’s got a 3D, vertical gameboard, which is new for us, and it takes time to get things right.

MM: You recently came out with a Snow White set, is this one of your most sought-after inventions?

BR: It is brand new in the market now, but yes…it has been received really well so far.

MM: Be honest, do you have a favorite set?

BR: My personal favorites are Jump In’ and Color Code.

MM: What awards have your products won and what was the experience of receiving such recognition like?

IMG_8891BR: We’ve won most of the major awards, including ASTRA Best Toys for Kids, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, NAPPA, Creative Child, Parent’s Choice, Dr. Toy, Play Advances Language (PAL) and several times a TIA Toy of the Year Finalist. Of course, it’s always nice when the quality of the products you are selling is recognized.

MM: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of working with Smart Games? 

BR: I only have the obvious answer, it’s always great to work for a company that makes great products. Makes my job easier.

MM: Where do you hope the company will be in ten years?

BR: Still making great games, hopefully a lot more of them.

IMG_8887MM: What advice would you give to someone who is striving to enter the toy/games industry?

BR: I imagine it is the same as any other industry. Meet people, see if you have industry people in your network, read and learn, attend public toy events, and so on. There are also recruiters who focus on the toy industry.


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To learn more about Smart Games visit their official website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Meagan Meehan

Meagan J. Meehan is a published author, poet, cartoonist and produced playwright. She pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Examiner and AXS. She is also a stop motion animator and an award-winning abstract artist. Meagan holds a Bachelors in English Literature and a Masters of Communication. She is an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.
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