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The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit

The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit
By Philip E. Orbanes

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Product Description

The Monopoly game, Trivial Pursuit, Clue, Boggle, and Risk are more than games-they're part of Americana. All of these games were published by one company, Parker Brothers, which began as a dream inside the mind of a sixteen-year-old boy, over one hundred years ago.

In The Game Makers, industry expert Phil Orbanes reveals how, by adhering to the principles of its founder, Parker Brothers rose to prominence, overcame obstacles, and forged lasting success. Orbanes, a game historian and former executive at Parker Brothers, draws from company archives, interviews with surviving family members, and the newly discovered records of founder George Parker to tell a story rich in examples of business acumen that spans world wars, family tragedy, the Great Depression, and global competition. Pairing Parker's enduring business lessons with little-known historical anecdotes, Orbanes reveals the often whimsical origin of classic games-Tiddledy Winks, Monopoly, Nerf, Sorry!, the modern jigsaw puzzle, and more-and how Parker Brothers turned them into cultural icons.

Engaging and insightful, The Game Makers explains the rules that popularized the games we play and reveals the people who built an American business empire.

"From one who loves games: The Game Makers is a real page-turner. Nobody knows the subject matter better than Phil Orbanes, and it shows. A most compelling read."

-Wink Martindale, host, Music of Your Life, and veteran host for award-winning game shows such as Can You Top This , Tic-Tac-Dough, and Trivial Pursuit.

"Phil Orbanes is a gifted chronicler. He serves up a tantalizing tale of fast-paced competition, drama, risk, eccentric personalities, and strategy, in one of the world's most competitive industries. The reader wins!"

-Richard C. Levy, Author, The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook

"In this deeply researched look at the evolution of business practices within the world of 'game makers,' Phil Orbanes takes readers on a journey in which they will happily recall the joyful hours spent playing the games that rolled off the presses at Parker Brothers."

-John J. Fox, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Salem State College

"A classic tale of American entrepreneurship, The Game Makers is a detailed study of successful business expansion and an insider's view of the cultural conflict between a corporate parent and its prize acquisition. This history of Parker Brothers offers something of interest to any serious student of American business practices."

-Linda M. Lemiesz, Ph.D., Dean of Students, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Arts

"I thoroughly enjoyed Phil Orbanes's journey through the history of Parker Brothers. Enjoyable and informative, The Game Makers is a fascinating account of how one individual's strength of character-or weakness-exerted a significant influence over a company's fortunes."

-Ralph H. Baer, Toy and Game Inventor, and Father of Video Games

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #491418 in Books
  • Published on: 2003-11-14
  • Original language: German
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 256 pages

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist
In 1883, George Parker was 16 years old, and he liked to play board games. But he and his friends were tired of the "heavy-handed moral lessons" of the typical board game, and George, an inventive young man, created his own game, called Banking (chartered banks were a relatively new thing in the U.S., and people were fascinated by the whole subject). It was a success, and soon George and his brother, Charles, formed their own company, Parker Brothers. This playful history of the company, written by a former employee, chronicles Parker Brothers from its birth through its early successes (including Pit, a card game invented by Edgar Cayce), its subsequent lean years, and its transition into pop-culture icon. Most of us know Parker Brothers as the company that makes Monopoly (created seven decades ago), but Orbanes lets us know it's much more than that; for example, George Parker was the guy who brought Ping-Pong to the U.S. No fan of board games should be without this entertaining business history. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

"[T]his book makes an excellent choice for anyone interested in the development and growth of a family business." -- Publisher's Weekly

"an intriguing read." -- USA Today, January 12th, 2004

About the Author

Philip E. Orbanes is President of Winning Moves Games, located in Danvers, Massachusetts, and author of The Monopoly Companion.

Customer Reviews

A fascinating family and all the games we grew up with5
I finished reading the Game Makers at 2:00 a.m. Usually I am sleeping long beforehand, but I found it just fascinating to learn about this amazing family and their great company-- especially because of the the way the story is told. It is filled with real drama and surprise. It made it difficult to stop reading before the last page. I learned a lot about making games as well. I also understand much better now the relations between the principles of successful business and the rules of games. The incredible changes in the last 25 years were of great interest for me. The amount of details presented is astonishing and the way they are presented makes it a pleasure to read.I applaud this highly original and interesting book.

Sanguine but credible history4
The author is a former employee and diehard fan of Parker Brothers which makes his viewpoint a double edged sword. On the one hand, his account is complimentary although never gushing. He does not shy away from relating some of the nasty corporate politics especially those during the company's recent years during which he worked for them. Some of the early history though, seems a bit too rosy especially when you consider US labor conditions in the early 20th century.
On the much brighter side, Orbanes' passion and connections to the company have afforded him dilligence and sources no other author could have attained. The book is well documented with accounts from George Parker's own private papers as well as interviews with lifelong employees from the upper and lower reaches of the organization.
Being a game fan, I can't be completely objective about the historical quality of the book. Orbanes injects as much historical context as he can and documents these references as well. Personally, I couldn't put the book down and found every chapter fascinating.

Makes you want to invent games yourself4
Philip Orbanes tells a sympathetic and interesting tale of Parker Brothers' long rise to fame and fortune between 1883 and the beginning of the 1980s, as well how General Mill's video-game-stoked greed and lack of prudence brought on the decline of the once so respected game maker. This is the point where the authors tone as well as coverage of the history of the firm change dramatically, becoming somewhat more emotional, although not less enthusiastic.

One thing that "bothers" me about Orbanes' book is that the author is not always as elaborate as he could be. For example, he could have been more explicit on how Parker's Banking game was actually played, rather than just a basic outline of the game. Or the history of the Mah-Jongg game could have been more detailed. Also, an early example of the clear and concise wording of game rules that George Parker was famous for would have been interesting. None of these shortcomings seriously compromise the quality of the book, but it left me somewhat hungry for more material.

Much to my amusement, from the moment I passed the first few pages of Philip Orbanes' Parker story I have been housing the notion of making games myself. I can only imagine the satisfaction of creating intelligent and fun games. I find the concept of take a set of concise, simple rules and turning them into challenging and lasting game quite intriguing. Parker certainly mastered this principle in the past with games such as Risk or Monopoly, to name two of the most prominent.

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