Whatever Happened To ... a local trivia game's creators
What, in dollars, is the most ever paid for a painting by elephants?
This peculiar question was one of many that North Star Games founders Dominic Crapuchettes and Satish Pillalamarri put to the attendees of their monthly Wits & Wagers game night at Silver Spring's Mayorga Coffee. The pair, who met at the University of Maryland's business school, had created their company in 2003 and soon afterward began hosting the event to promote their trivia-themed game. When The Washington Post featured the business partners in December 2007, Target had begun selling their game nationwide.
The monthly game nights spanned four years, ending in December when Mayorga's Silver Spring location closed. But Crapuchettes, 40, and Pillalamarri, 31, are hedging their bets that Wits & Wagers soon will become a household name. The partners are negotiating offers for a Wits & Wagers game show with CBS and Sony's Embassy Row, which produces "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." They also are finalizing details for a Wits & Wagers iPhone application and talking to Disney and National Geographic about future partnerships.
The team has expanded to five people, who work out of Crapuchettes's Bethesda basement.
In Wits & Wagers, players guess the answers to trivia questions and then place plastic chip bets on a game board next to the response they believe is correct -- theirs or their opponents'. The winner doesn't have to be a trivia buff, which was important to Crapuchettes, who says he loved board games but was never good at Trivial Pursuit.
Wits & Wagers is available in six cultural adaptations, and a family edition debuted this spring. Another game that North Star released in 2008 -- Say Anything, which lets players guess their friends' answers to various questions -- sells steadily at Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and other retail chains. Next year, Crapuchettes and Pillalamarri plan to unveil Crappy Birthday -- a kind of Old Maid and Apples to Apples hybrid -- and then curtail the development of new products to focus on expanding their current brands.
The goal is to achieve the level of success reached by the Seattle-based creators of Cranium. "What they did for board games in Seattle, we're going to do in Washington, D.C.," Crapuchettes said. "This is going to be a mecca of board games in five years' time."
By the way, he said, $39,000 is still the most ever paid for a painting by elephants.
Read the original story: Greenbelt firm seeks board game fame