A New Board Game for Halloween Scares
Up Fun for the Whole Family
By TDmonthly Staff
You’d think being an emergency room physician would keep a person busy.
Nonetheless, Dr. Paul Koch found time to create his own Halloween board
game. “I thought I’d have lots of choices,” says Koch, describing his search
for a Halloween board game back in 1998, “but there was nothing out there.”
He ended up cutting and pasting pictures from children’s books to create
the prototype for his own game, Spooks - The Haunting Mystery Game
Retailers in Koch’s local Detroit area now stock the game, with the company’s
website generating additional sales (spooks.us). Koch just finished taping
a TV commercial that will air locally on ABC’s Family Channel in September
and October. A new edition of the game with play tokens is in the works
for next year, as is a brand new game called Spys. “We
are gaining momentum,” says Koch. “We’ve even had inquiries for distribution
in Europe.” Not bad for a guy who started a game company with only his dog
for a partner.
Spooks - The Haunting Mystery Game
I’m an Emergency Physician, and a few years ago I wanted to have
a Halloween party for the nurses and their kids. When I was unable to purchase
a Halloween game for them to play, I made one instead. As it turned out,
they loved it. The board game is now called Spooks - The Haunting
Mystery Game ($19.95).
Spooks is played on a board designed like a haunted house, where the windows
are spaces for movement. The fun and patented aspect of the game lies
in its unique manner of card presentation and elimination.
Everyone participates by playing a card and making a statement such as,
“Did anyone see the Ghost in the Hall?” or “I was in the Hall,” or, “I
didn’t see the Ghost,” etc., depending on the card played or the question
Spook's Playing Card
The game allows for a myriad of questions and statements involving haunting
themes. It’s interactive, fast paced, family-friendly and is played with
a deck of 52 cards. There are 546 unique “Haunting Mysteries,” or game solutions,
and a nearly limitless number of ways to move through the house. So, it’s
unlikely you will ever play the same game twice.
The game is for three to six players, ages 8 to adult, [and] involves
deductive reasoning as players search for a predetermined answer secreted
in the “Book of Spells.” The patent allows the game to be played by 8-year-olds
as simple card matching and elimination, and adults can enjoy it by employing
Spooks comes with a toy coffin, which is used as a container to hold the
discards. Called “The Legend,” the scoring sheet functions as a way to
keep track of eliminated spooks and hauntings, and true to its name, it
is a list of truths and false leads.
A Dog’s Inspiration
I formed the company a few years ago and named it Hootie Enterprises
LLC, after my dog, in part because my dog embodies those ideals of “I
love you,” and “Let’s play.” I introduced this game last year in my local
market and sales were enthusiastic. I’m proud to say that no one has ever
returned it, despite my generous return policy: “14 days for any undamaged
A Tough Year for Toys
I think that new game introductions have had some bad luck this year,
with “the storm of the decade” at Toy Fair, war with Iraq during the other
fairs, and SARS limiting travel and exposure. But these may turn out to
be some of the reasons families stay home and appreciate quality play
with an interactive board game.
Hootie Games challenges families to turn off the TV and put down the joystick,
sit around a table and interact over a game that lets you enrich your
life and mirror who you are in the people you love. Our company philosophy
states that, given persistent exposure, a good product with innovative
features will eventually be found [by consumers] and demanded.