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About Jenga: The Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Hardcover – 1 Oct 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group LLC (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608320022
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608320028
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,369,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Leslie Scott was born and raised in Africa, and educated in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and England. One of the world's few professional board game designers, she is the creator of the blockbuster game Jenga and the co-founder of Oxford Games Ltd. Scott lives in the Oxfordshire countryside and the African plains with her zoologist husband and their two children.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Snow on 22 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jenga, one of the world's classic games, has sold over 50 million sets and its appeal shows no sign of slackening. Many of those who, like me, have spent happy hours, breath held, adding bricks to its tottering towers or whooping with delight as a rival brought the whole edifice toppling down, must have wondered what lay behind this fascinating game - just who invented it and why and how it became such an international phenomenon. In this wonderful book I found all the answers and much more.

Leslie Scott, its inventor, reveals the roots of Jenga (`Build!' in Swahili) in the games her ex-pat family played in 1950s Kenya. But it was one Sunday morning as an under-employed macramé-teacher in 1970s East Oxford that she woke up and realised its commercial possibilities. About Jenga tells of the challenges and obstacles she overcame on the way to making her dream reality - the collisions with bank managers and debt collectors, predatory agents and big-time players, sinister flatterers and shady copycats as well as the unexpected allies and good angels who helped her on the path to success.

Reading it, I realised I had at last found a model business book - one with a human face, rich in lessons for entrepreneurs and all those seeking to take a new idea to market, but written with great wit, learning and fluent clarity and blessedly free of the jargon or the self-deluding vanity that disfigures so many of the books in this area.

Embedded in it I also found much more - a moving family memoir, not to mention a vivid and personal chunk of social history over the last four decades, telling how Leslie Scott took her first faltering steps in the then male-dominated world of business.
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Format: Hardcover
Not only is this an fantastic book about how Jenga, a world famous game, was brought to market and the designers trials and tribulations along the way but it also gives insights into how the board game world runs. Excellent and a must read for anyone interested in Jenga or the games world in general.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Untapped Potential 7 Aug. 2010
By J. P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Jenga: a name that's synonymous with toppling wooden blocks, and for many people, long hours of good-natured gaming with their friends and family. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most simplistic game ever packaged. The fact that Jenga might have a living creator seems odd, right? Hasn't it been around, well, forever?

Leslie Scott, one of the few professional game designers in the world, is in fact, the designer of Jenga. And her game-to-fame (haha) hit the shelves less than thirty years ago.

Scott grew up with her family in Africa, and during the long, hot summers, they would play a game that involved stacking simple wooden blocks on top of each other until the tower toppled. It took her years to realize the novelty of this game, and longer still to realize how marketable Jenga could be. About Jenga: the Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Household Name--written by the creator of Jenga herself--charts Scott's journey from humble homemade game, to family-night fun that rocked the nation.

Jenga--which comes from the Swahili word for to build--didn't have any easy beginning. Scott suffered through bad business relationships, patent and branding troubles, insufficient funds and lack of a platform for her game for years, until Jenga finally hit the market. But--and you know this if you've ever played the game--Jenga has a sort of magic to it that draws people near, and this magic proved invaluable as Jenga's prowess reached first a small circle of friends, and then a circle of companies, and finally encircled the world with a pair of wooden arms.

About Jenga has a lot of untapped potential. Whereas Scott could have used this publication to share stories about her customers, or light anecdotes about creating Jenga, she instead decided to fill page after page with business transactions and details of her trade. This is fantastic if you're looking for a comprehensive, report-like guide to the toy industry. But it isn't so great if you go into this wanting funny comments and witty charms about the people who played Jenga, and how much fun it was to create the game. The writing is rather dry.

Scott's writing is very academic, which is to be expected of a non-fiction book. However, this academic-ness impeded her storytelling abilities, and overall hindered the few narrative qualities that this book had. Often times, she gave too many explanations-of-explanations, and it was easy to forget exactly what she was talking about in the first place. Not that these tangents aren't entertaining--many are--but more often then not, Jenga's story becomes more like a biography of the toy industry.

Like many people whose hobby becomes their full time job, Leslie Scott seems to think that Jenga is just another game. And in a way, it is...much in the same way that Disney World is just another theme park. But if you read a book about Disney World, or its creator, Walt Disney, you'll find something that leaves you reminiscing about face paint and light parades and your first ride on that flying Dumbo carousel. This missing spark of nostalgia was one of the biggest downfalls of About Jenga, and that's really too bad.

So if you're looking for a comprehensive guide to the toy industry, and a warning about the many possible mistakes one can make while marketing a game--you'll love this book. And if you are a toy aficionado, or Jenga-obsessive, you'll probably like it as well. However, if you go into this looking for a summer read, or something light and fun, you'll be disappointed.
How Jenga Became a Metaphore 6 Sept. 2014
By Siva - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thank you Leslie Scott for investing so much introspective careful thought and research into your personal journey and Jenga's journey. Initially you based your story on your and your family's fascinating history in Africa but as you delved deeper to investigate your intuitive understandings, and you read and researched more widely, your Jenga story reveals some of the underlying structures of the real world. I am a teacher and game inventor so initially I read your book for inspiration with respect to creating my own educational games, but I came away from my reading experience with a lot more wisdom for my investment of money and time. This book will probably be appreciated by any intelligent reader who appreciates a good, well told story and metaphorical thinking seasoned with humor.
Great and Interesting read 4 Dec. 2013
By Gamegeek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Not only is this an fantastic book about how Jenga, a world famous game, was brought to market and the designers trials and tribulations along the way but it also gives insights into how the board game world runs. Excellent and a must read for anyone interested in Jenga or the games world in general.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Business Book With a Difference 22 Feb. 2010
By Peter Snow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Jenga, one of the world's classic games, has sold over 50 million sets and its appeal shows no sign of slackening. Many of those who, like me, have spent happy hours, breath held, adding bricks to its tottering towers or whooping with delight as a rival brought the whole edifice toppling down, must have wondered what lay behind this fascinating game - just who invented it and why and how it became such an international phenomenon. In this wonderful book I found all the answers and much more.

Leslie Scott, its inventor, reveals the roots of Jenga (`Build!' in Swahili) in the games her ex-pat family played in 1950s Kenya. But it was one Sunday morning as an under-employed macramé-teacher in 1970s East Oxford that she woke up and realised its commercial possibilities. About Jenga tells of the challenges and obstacles she overcame on the way to making her dream reality - the collisions with bank managers and debt collectors, predatory agents and big-time players, sinister flatterers and shady copycats as well as the unexpected allies and good angels who helped her on the path to success.

Reading it, I realised I had at last found a model business book - one with a human face, rich in lessons for entrepreneurs and all those seeking to take a new idea to market, but written with great wit, learning and fluent clarity and blessedly free of the jargon or the self-deluding vanity that disfigures so many of the books in this area.

Embedded in it I also found much more - a moving family memoir, not to mention a vivid and personal chunk of social history over the last four decades, telling how Leslie Scott took her first faltering steps in the then male-dominated world of business.

This makes About Jenga sound portentous and does not do justice to the many delightful comic vignettes studding its pages. I almost rolled on the floor with laughter reading about one incident, when Scott, then Intel's first UK marketing manager, shared premises with the Potato Marketing Board. One day a Board representative marched in and plonked down a sack of a new type of spuds and asked her in all seriousness to report on their suitability for the new culinary product - microchips - that he had heard she was preparing.

Circling out from her experiences, Scott - an unusual and engaging blend of businesswoman and Oxford intellectual - offers interesting reflections on the role of branding not just in business but also in art, history and nature (she devotes, incidentally, some of her earnings from Jenga to supporting a zoological and ecological research station in Kenya), on metaphor and the larger relationship between games, life and business.

How best to characterise this strange, multifaceted book? Perhaps as the journey of an intelligent, if somewhat naïve and Candide-like, young woman through an Alice-in-Wonderland world and her attempts, then and now, to make sense of it. Buy it, read it. Like the game it celebrates, I predict it could well become a cult classic. With its humour, rich layering and period background, it would make a fabulous film or TV docu-drama. Agents and producers, please note.
Jenga
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Tedious and Boring 20 Jun. 2013
By Femme Vitale - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'About Jenga' is every bit as boring as the game it centers on. Not sure why I picked up a copy of this. Just got entrepreneurial fever, I guess, and wanted to see if the author could shed any light on the process of cranking out hits in the puzzle/game business. This was more of a memoir than anything else. I couldn't finish it.
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