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A daily look back at the toys, games, and objects that captured our attention as children and continue to fascinate us today.

The Friday Five: Olivia Wasilewski and Brynna Siewers – Ship of Treasures

It’s not uncommon to find children around the age of 10 playing board games with friends – but Olivia Wasilewski and Brynna Siewers actually invented their own game. Olivia and Brynna are the 2016 winners of the Young Inventor Challenge, for their board game, Ship of Treasures. The pirate-themed board game uses 3D elements to bring life to tabletop treasure hunting. The girls were subsequently mentored by Pressman Toy to produce a retail-ready version of the game. Here, Oliva and Brynna talk about their experience and provide a glimpse into what it’s like to invent a game.

How did you come up with the idea for Ship of Treasures?

Olivia: Brynna and I came up with the idea during our Advanced Learning Program for Students (ALPS) program at school. 

Brynna: We originally designed it as a scavenger hunt with dinosaur characters but changed it to a pirate-themed board game later. We like pirates – the way they dress and talk.

The Friday Five

How did Pressman Toy discover Ship of Treasures?

Olivia: We learned about a toy and game event called ChiTAG through the ALSP program. We entered our game into their Young Inventor Challenge. Jeff Pinsker from Pressman Toy was a judge at the event and we talked to him when he came to our table to see our game.

The Friday Five

How did it feel to win the Young Inventor Challenge?

Olivia: Well, Jeff came by to see our game a bunch of times. I said to Brynna, “Oh my gosh, Jeff really likes our game.” There were a lot of really good entries to the Challenge. We tried to stay positive about our chances of winning.

Brynna: Jeff came by to see us a couple of times to talk about the game. We got really excited because we thought he liked it and that maybe we had a chance at winning the Challenge. When they called our names at the awards, I just hugged Olivia and we ran onto the stage. I was excited. I think Olivia was a bit speechless. It was fun.

The Friday Five

Why do you think it’s important to play board games in an increasingly digital world?

Olivia: It’s nice to have something that the whole family can play together rather than just sitting alone on the computer. 

The Friday Five

What advice do you have for other game inventors?

Brynna: Have fun with it and try your best. And test-play over and over again before you put it out there.

Olivia: Don’t do a flat board game; try to make it different. There are too many flat games already.

The Friday Five

Learn more about Ship of Treasures on the Pressman Toys website. You can learn about ChiTAG – the event that started it all – on their website.

Five questions, one fascinating person (or team!) – look into the minds of movers and shakers in the nostalgia, game, play, or toy industry.