Don’t let their boyish appearances and grins fool you even when the partners look right at home in their toy company. Richard Tait and Whit Alexander have created an innovative game known as Cranium where every participant can enjoy their moments of glory, whether their talents were spelling backward or drawing with their eyes closed – truly, an entertaining, engaging and funny game that celebrates the diversity of players and that requires creative genius from its creators.
Tait and Alexander are not playing games when it comes to their company and its game. Both spent the 1990s at Microsoft – Tait was Microsoft Employee of the Year while Alexander was behind Microsoft’s Encarta World Atlas on CD-ROM. Both, nonetheless, have other talents aside from their computing genius with Tait proudly listing shepherd on his resume while Alexander was a teacher, ecologist and urban planner.
Both share a passion for entrepreneurship but their initial idea of starting a dot-com company was discouraged mainly because of market saturation. Many of their technology ideas were also being done by others but being entrepreneurs-at-heart, Tait and Alexander continued to explore ideas. Tait came upon the idea behind Cranium after intensive board-game playing at the Hamptons.
The partners have an unconventional yet effective game development approach. First, instead of designing the product to meet a consumer need, they engineered Cranium around a “moment” when each of the participants appear smart and funny for their friends – a moment of glory, if you will. Second, the partners and their employees follow the CHIFF approach, an acronym for clever, high-quality, innovative, friendly, and fun, in all matters related to game development.
None of these two methods are exactly measurable in nature but the partners have been proven right time and time again. Even marketing materials used for foreign markets are scrutinized to ensure that, indeed, these follow the CHIFF approach.