Leslie Scott is my new hero. Existing in a world that’s becoming engorged on the digital wave of electronic gaming, and having succumb to the wave myself (yes, I do moonlight as a video games vendor), its invigorating to hear someone intelligent profess the merits of the board game. Although Leslie Scott’s book lends a heavy emphasis on the business of creating and marketing the game Jenga, it also forges into the philosophical; the Tao of Jenga, if you will. And it is in those places where “About Jenga” shines brighter than any other business book that Greenleaf Book Group has ever produced.
Given Jenga’s near intuitive simplicity, you might expect that it came about nearly by accident, but the truth is that how the game is played is not the same as how it’s marketed. The look, the feel, the precarious situation that Jenga puts its players in, even its name, are the results of a life lived in the pursuit of knowledge. Scott was born in Africa, and educated in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Oxford. And she has leant the bulk of this pursuit to the launching of the classic game, taking great care to learn the practice of selling an idea, protecting the rights of that idea and launching a phenomenon.
“About Jenga” is not a blueprint for creating a game with mass appeal, rather it is Scott’s exploration of how a mix of fate and effort culminated in the perfect storm to help her push Jenga on the market from the ground up. It is very much a story of a woman up against the world of corporate licensing who discovers a way to triumph in a way that only someone with the intellectual moxy to go up against it in the first place could. It’s inspirational in a number of ways.