An Interview with... Matt Knott and Anna Whitehead - Ingenium Games


Last year, we came across WordStacker; a fantastic word game which cleverly involves stacking, extending and mixing up words to your advantage! After creating their first successful word game, Matt and Anna from Ingenium Games talk about bringing a few new releases to our gaming collections and how they became inspired.

1. Give us a bit of an insight to your company. How long have you been producing/designing games?

There are 2 of us, Matt Knott and Anna Whitehead, We're pretty much a start-up, we've been going just over 12 months. Matt started out at Hasbro in 2006 producing and designing games and then moved up north in 2008 forming his own Interactive Media company. Since then, Matt's been yearning to get back into gaming. Anna worked in the licensing industry for Wesco before pursuing her goal of seeing her games published. We met about 18 months ago after an introduction by a mutual friend. We decided to work together on a few ideas and within a few months had our first finished game, WordStacker.

2. What or who inspired you to start your gaming journey and why?

Matt: I love playing. As a designer, I play with everything. I've always been a maker too, whether it's sculpture, architectural drawings or a meal, I've always enjoyed the process of making. Making games is just about the most extraordinary thing I make. I get a lot of joy from seeing something completely new emerge from the development work we do. If I was to try and pinpoint who inspired me to games, that's easy - it's my Dad. He's not a big gamer at all, but when I was a kid he would play whatever I wanted - he's also my biggest fan...even at the tender age of 39. I also work in design and interactive design and production so I'm a bit obsessed as to how people play with stuff, whether it's a piece of card, a tablet or touchscreen - I want people to feel wowed by anything I design.

Anna: I'm a board game hobbyist and go to any number of gaming groups around Manchester where I live. I was inspired to take my game ideas forward by member of my neighbourhood games group who'd playtested my handmade prototypes many times. It's a great group of friends and I loved to see them laughing and talking together, and I want to create that reaction myself. WordStacker also passed the 'Mum Test', which is no small beans, given that she's been playing word games since before I was born!

3. What games do you have available for us to play today?

WordStacker is our first game. It's a great 'family round the table' game and isn't just for the clever-clogs like the other word games out there. We've had loads of positive feedback by everyone who's played - Parents see it as a really good way of engaging their kids with language and it's also been 'Recommended' by the Good Toy Guide. We're working on 3 new games; a new member for the WordStacker family and 2 brand new games.

4. How did you get the ideas for your games?

Our ideas come from all sorts of sources. Matt enjoys building games from interesting stories. We're working on a really interesting game idea based in India at the moment. Anna focuses on mechanisms and techniques of play. We seem to dovetail well as a result. WordStacker was inspired by word games on a newspaper puzzle page. We created a game which is competitive for younger and older players and which promotes interaction, something we feel is lacking in many word games.

5. What games do you play and which game is your all time favourite?

Anna: That's a tricky one! Being a game fan I don't know if I could name an all-time favourite. There's always time for Dobble, and stacking and balancing games like Jenga are great fun. If I'm in for a longer game then it's Power Grid or Alhambra. There are a lot of games for teams around at the moment, Codenames is great fun too.

Matt: My favourite games always come from the experience. Games bring people together and even the more mainstream games can be fun - the mood is often set with the people. Two games spring to mind - 'No Thanks' - I played this in a bar in Boston and it was great fun - and 'Jamaica', lots of pirate trash talk!

6. What can we expect to see from you in the future?

We've got a number of games in development and we're working on some different formats too - can't say too much about that though. As well as the 3 games we're working on, we've got some new ideas for games for Jan 2018, we're working toward getting our own range of games up to 20 as soon as we can.

7. And finally...any words of wisdom/advice to new and old gamers?

I think the best advice is to just get stuck in. There are games to suit every interest and ability. Try going to a shop with a wide range of games and talking to the staff for recommendations. There are also board gaming groups all over the country, have a look online and go along. Board gamers are a friendly bunch, and it won't be long before you've found a game you love (and people to play it with!)

Click here to see our game overview for WordStacker.

You can purchase WordStacker from our website here.