The Brainy Band is a young and dynamic company that manufactures educational games. All of its products are originally designed. On the one hand, these are exciting board games with fun design, and kids love playing them. On the other hand, the games provide elementary school skills and knowledge, and help to master them practically on their own. We’ve spoken with the company’s head Sergei Parkhomenko about his business concept and plans for the upcoming season.
Your company has a very unusual and memorable name. Why did you choose it?
It was important for us to have a different name, so that it would arouse curiousity and provoke emotions. Just another Smarty-pants or Daisy-something was no good, because we manufacture games that are basically creating a new market niche in the universe of children’s products.
How was your business born?
I am originally a business coach and had done a lot of business trainings. But I have a son, who is ten. Since he was four years old, I’ve been organizing early development sessions for him and his friends, and there we would play games and think up all kinds of interesting projects. I needed games such as ours for sessions with the kids, but the market either had strictly entertaining games or boring study guides that were no fun. So I often had to invent something myself, and that was how these games were born.
Can you speak more about the methodology of your games?
For many people, education is actually a rather boring and even forced process, and so giving classes is a rather difficult task, which requires special training. Which is why some of our customers are actually shocked that you can do something interesting with a child and have a great time in the process while the education will “take care of itself.” Our products clearly show that games can be used to master even such complicated topics as multiplication and fractions.
How do you develop new games? Who are the experts?
At the moment, technically all of the games have one author, and that’s me. But, of course, I enjoy the help of many wonderful people, with whom I discuss the ideas, and who help me to test the prototypes and resolve many other issues. These are preschool teachers, pedagogues and psychologists, and recently we’ve been joined by the professional mathematician and programmer, who helps us create combinatorial and probability models to make the gameplay more balanced. The most difficult stage is the development of the game concept and creation of the first working prototype. It happens that I have to go through dozens of ideas and test numerous intermediary prototypes to find the right solution, because every game has to satisfy several, often practically impossible requirements.
For example, when we began working on the Zoolphabet game, we had to come up with such gameplay that a child with no knowledge of letters could play the game along with adults. And not just play, but play it successfully, while mastering the letters as if “on their own.” And there should be versions of the game suitable both for the children who don’t know how to read and for those who do. It took us more than a year, but we created such a game!
After the prototype is developed, we begin the process of game design, which is also a very essential part, and we spend much greater effort and resources to do this than the majority of our colleagues. To make the games, which look great compared to Western-made board games, we work with the best illustrators and go through numerous revisions until we are absolutely happy with the result.