Sep 6, 201203:48 PMDaily News
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York family creates game
Charlie Hoopes was frustrated.
His 10-year-old son used a birthday gift card to buy a new board game, and after playing it, the two didn’t like it at all. It was slow and the players’ choices didn’t really affect the outcome.
Charlie knew he could do better and shortly after he set out to prove it. One year later, Charlie and his family have created not only a better game, but also a brand new family-run company.
The Hoopes’ HoopCAT Games has self-published and created “Fill the Barn,” a game the entire family can play, and now they’re using this game to give a little back.
Grow and sell crops
The object of the game is simple: Finish with the most money. The game is played with the barn, cards and money. Players take turns growing crops, selling crops and hindering each other as they fill up the barn and earn money. When the barn is filled, the game is over.
And the challenge is tried and true. “Our children are involved from testing to playing,” Christina, said Charlie’s wife and business partner. “It’s a family endeaveor that we’re hoping to do for years to come.”
In fact, the couple’s two children, Andrew, 15, and Thomas, 11, are at the heart of the venture. Both helped create it and added input, and a year later they still pick “Fill the Barn” whenever the family plays a game.
The Hoopes also let friends and family try it and give their feedback as they adapted the game and tried to perfect it. They studied what was fun, boring, easy and working for the game.
Make a game
While some games take months or even years to develop, “Fill the Barn” came along very quickly.
After working out the details of the game by the end of August, the first copy of “Fill the Barn” arrived in April.
The initial prototype was made using business cards and clip art. The Hoopes later used the internet to find an artist and work with him to get everything just right.
They found a factory in Delano, Mich.—they insisted on using a factory in the United States and found most have moved to China—and started working on the artwork by October. They got the art and details to the factory in February and received the game in April.
Publishing the game was the hardest part, Charlie said, but fortunately they have a tool that helped that they didn’t have 20 years ago. “The internet gives you the avenue to find artists or factories or warehouses to put them in,” Charlie said. “Without the internet we couldn’t have done this.”
An accidental creator
Had someone told Charlie 18 months ago that he’d be a game inventor, he’d have thought they were crazy. “Last thing I wanted to do was create a home business,” he said. “It’s easier when it’s something you enjoy doing.”
With the game complete, the Hoopes are selling it and giving back by donating a portion of sales to the Autism Society of America and Make-A-Wish Foundation. “Our two sons have Asperger’s Syndrome, so we wanted to give back since so many have given to us,” Christina said.
The Hoopes’ have been picking charities with special meaning to the family, including their sons’ school’s PTO. They’ve also launched a “Fill the Map” campaign where they try to spread “Fill the Barn” throughout the country by donating one game to a Christmas toy drive to every state that the game is played in.
Where to find it: “Fill the Barn” can be purchased online at www.hoopcatgames.com or any of these four retailers:
Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market, 8892 Susquehanna Trail South, Loganville
Flinchbaugh’s Orchard & Farm Market, 110 Ducktown Road, Hellam
That Game Place, 230 S. 8th St., Lemoyne
Pennsylvania Toy Academy, 705 Olde Hickory Road, Lancaster
Kurt Bopp is assistant editor/web at Central Penn Parent. He has fond memories of playing Risk with his dad and friends throughout his childhood, and though he never won—his Australia strategy never once worked—he always enjoyed it.