The idea for Str8 Eight (pronounced “straight eight”) came to me in a dream in December of 2010. In my dream, it was a board game that consisted of all the numbers on a twelve-by-twelve multiplication table. I named the game A Dozen Ways to Win and e-mailed a college friend with whom I’ve confided business ideas since our days at Alfred University. My biggest struggle was constructing a board that captured the game play in a simple and user-friendly manner. I was stumped.
In early 2011, I was enrolled in a performance-improvement seminar series through my employer, Alfred State College. Using my game as an exercise in visualization, I had an epiphany — a design like a tumbler moving in a padlock. Realizing the exponential number of ways to win, I was momentarily disheartened. I spoke with some coworkers at the seminar about my short-lived breakthrough, and when I started considering other options, such as tiles, I realized it was a card game all along! I immediately pulled out one of the index cards we were using to write down our visualization affirmations and designed the first card.
From there, I realized that a deck for all the multiples through twelve-by-twelve would be too cumbersome and scaled it back to eight-by-eight, naming the game Str8 Eight. I bought a box of blank cards from eBay and created a prototype deck. With a friend from Germany who had returned for Reunion Weekend at Alfred University, we began testing the game and found that it was as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be. We worked out the rules and the scoring, and then I brought the game on visits with friends and family for the next year. One of the strengths of Str8 Eight is that while it’s built on mathematics, each card signals all potential choices so no math is required in order to play. This makes playing Str8 Eight a great way to introduce numerical interrelation and multiplication concepts to children in a non-threatening way through play.
I found a firm able to produce the game, and my wife began designing the cards, inventing the S overlaid on an 8. Before going to print, she encouraged me to seek the advice of a friend who teaches graphic design at Alfred University, and, over lunch, he agreed to work on several designs. Upon seeing his work, I immediately loved his adaptation of the logo, design for the common side, and the way he incorporated the elements of the game on the card front. With all the Alfred, New York, connections already present in the game, my wife and I wanted to incorporate the colors of Alfred as much as possible, and I feel like Str8 Eight accomplishes that.
With the final designs in hand and a contract signed with the printer, I enlisted the help of another Alfred University graduate to develop this webpage. It has truly been an amazing journey from idea to production for a game that is so much in the spirit of Alfred, New York, that it has the town’s name on each card!