The Famous Games Story

The Bartel family doing some big city shopping in Saskatoon, SaskatchewanI grew up a hard-working prairie boy, surrounded by a large and loving extended family. In the dwindling evening light, great-aunts and great-uncles would swap tall tales over games of Pinochle. Cousins would come in dusty from endless games of football and baseball out in the yard, quench their thirst with a cold glass of water, and gather around a Crokinole board to cheer each other on. At school, we'd break into fours to play Hearts over recess and we filled every rainy day of camping with the groans and laughter of marathon games of President. Games bound us together and formed the fabric of our lives.

As an adult, I've been fortunate to keep games at the center of my creative and professional life. I spent 15 years writing, designing, and producing award-winning video games for both Electronic Arts and BioWare while that industry blossomed into a myriad of forms. For me, these video games were at their best when they focused on small, intimate experiences, built communities, and brought people together. I led the design of a game called Neverwinter Nights that I'm proud to say did all three of those things very well.

As the video game industry shifted to single player experiences, I turned my attention back to the personal, face-to-face experiences afforded by the board and card games of my youth. The was a new energy in that space with creative new games just starting to come in from Germany and Europe. This time I wasn't just here to play, however - I was here to create. My board and card game designs have won and been recognized as finalists in various international design competitions both at home and overseas. And, as before, I didn't just build games - I built communities, gathering together the country's best and brightest board and card game designers to form the Game Artisans of Canada design collective.

Famous Games Co. and their bottlecap logoAnd then I decided to take it one step further with the decision to not just build games and build communities, but to become an entrepreneur and build a business of my own around the power of play. I narrowed my focus to a line of small, two-player card games and founded the Famous Games Co in 2010. It started in stealth mode, bootstrapping development by selling this growing line of World's Smallest Sports Games to corporate clients as branded promotional items. This stealth period gave me the freedom I needed to fine-tune the designs, develop the line's vintage style, identify the best way to teach games to new players (hint: it isn't with a traditional rulebook), and hone my craft. It's been a deliberately slow process, intent on building a time-honored product that would continue to build and grow over time.

When individual players and fans began seeking us out, telling us how much they enjoyed our strange little promotional games, and asking to buy them for their own personal use and to share with friends and loved ones, I knew that it was time. The Famous Games Co. consumer site launched in 2013 and I'm very proud to begin sharing our famous two player card games with friends and fans around the world. For all of you who play my games, I trust that they will be a source of great friendships and fond memories for many years to come.


Have fun,
  Play games,
    Be famous,

Rob Bartel, founder -
Famous Games Co. - 3238 - 23rd Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6T 2A9

My famous sports card games

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