Monday AM September 28th, 2009

Jenga is more than just a game to its creator. It’s the result of a series of disappointments that eventually ended with a universally-successful game. Ed Mayberry reports.

About Jenga book coverIt’s a game based on stacked wooden blocks that come tumbling down, if you’re not careful.  In her book, About Jenga, Leslie Scott writes of her efforts to market this simple game.  She chronicles her adventures from the game’s origin in Africa through its commercial success today.

“I’m third-generation East African.  I was born in Tanzania and grew up in Kenya.  We moved from East Africa to West Africa to Ghana, specifically, when I was just turning 18.  And I have a much younger brother, and in Ghana he was given a set of building blocks that were handmade.  I sort of played around with them and developed a game, which we just played within the family.  That game is what evolved into Jenga.” 

Bringing Jenga to market is a story of invention, branding and marketing.

“Gradually, over those years, having shown this game, there was a sort of accumulation of it wasn’t a game that existed, it was a novel idea.  So I thought, ‘right, well, I mean I started the business to put this game on the market.  I think you, I mean I kept it going, I think, because I believed in the game.  I mean, there was no doubt in my mind that everytime anybody played this game, they loved it.  It was very simple, they just had to see it.  I think that’s what defines an entrepreneur is that you actually, you remain convinced that your product will make it, eventually.”

Scott says it was hard-going in the beginning, owing banks and family members lots of money.  But she kept at it.  The game entered the market in 1983.  Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.


Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

News Anchor

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with much of his early career as a rock’n’roll disc jockey. He worked as part of a morning show team on album rock station KLBJ-FM, and later co-hosted a morning show at adult rock station KGSR, both in Austin. Ed also conducted...

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