In the heady days after Trivial Pursuit earned millions for its Canadian creators, everybody and his brother thought they could mimic that international success.
In fact, journalist Jay Teitel of Richmond Hill, Ont., and his brother-in-law Ed Brown, a Toronto psychiatrist, actually did hit the jackpot -- albeit on a somewhat smaller scale.
Their board game Therapy has sold upwards of 2.5 million copies around the world since the late 1980s. And now, somewhat belatedly, it's hitting the shelves in major Canadian stores.
"Ed had the idea that using the universe of therapy, you should be able to make a really terrific board game," Mr. Teitel, 57, said, recalling the early days of what turned into a profitable small business.
"We started meeting at his office every Wednesday afternoon. It was sort of a bottle of Scotch, and me and him, and the couch. I used the couch. I was the patient, essentially. From that we derived the idea and we started trying to build it."
The pair wanted the game to be fun, but at the same time give people an idea of the interaction between a psychiatrist and patient. In addition to cards with questions, the game features "Thinkblots," images that players try to identify.
Mr. Teitel said it took about a year until they had a prototype that could be played, with couches for playing pieces. Their plan was to get a company to license it, but all the royalty offers they received were low, so they decided to go into business for themselves. They made 5,000 copies of the game and started selling it mail-order through a small ad they took out in The New Yorker magazine, Mr. Teitel said.
"We started getting all kinds of attention, not just from people buying the game but from media. Ed was interviewed by CNN, we got a call from [toy store]FAO Schwartz . . . and the whole thing, it snowballed from there."
They struck a deal with Pressman Toy Corp. in the United States, and other contracts were signed for Britain and Germany. The game is now available in 10 languages.
At one point in the early days, Milton Bradley in Canada had the rights, but did no advertising and the game was "essentially invisible," so the creators took back the rights for Canada after a year.
Dr. Brown, 65, said they looked at times into getting a distributor, "but I think we were fussier about distribution in Canada since Canada's where we live, and we really wanted someone who is as enthusiastic about it as our other distributors have been."
In stepped Quebec games producer Claude Alary. He was "very enthusiastic about the product, he understood it very well, and we thought this is the guy we should go with," Dr. Brown said.
"We made a new game for Canada . . . in each market we've tried to make a game that's appropriate for the particular culture." It's now available at various stores in Canada, including Chapters and Indigo.
Mr. Teitel says the game has been a "very, very, very rewarding sideline. I think it's paid for our kids' bar mitzvahs," he said, laughing.
Questions from the game Therapy:
Q: Who's more likely to have a nervous breakdown: a waiter, a lawyer
or a doctor?
A: A waiter (nine times more likely).
Q: How long does the average argument between married couples last (i.e. how long does it take them to make peace)? (a) a few minutes (b) an hour (c) a day (d) a week
A: A few minutes.
Q: Who will report that life has become more stressful in the first year after marriage, a newlywed man or
a newlywed woman?
A: The man. (Women report just the opposite.)
Q: If you put a jacket over one of the only vacant chairs in a library, how long will it be before someone
moves the jacket and sits down in the chair?(a) 10 minutes (b) one hour (c) two hours.
A: Two hours.