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Anyone for a game of Synapse?

With help from family and friends, board game fun leads to inventions

May 4, 2008
By FRITZ BUSCH, Journal Staff Writer
More than five years ago, Carol, Dan, Anna and Pastor Wayne Laitinen, her parents Lois and Ted Hartwig, and a friend, Anita Walker, all of New Ulm, met for supper and played a board game.

The group played Sequence, a board game with playing cards and chips.

In the game, players are dealt cards and take turns playing them, placing chips on corresponding card images on a board.

The object of the game is be the first to form a row of five chips (horizontally, vertically or diagonally).

Carol Laitinen, a piano teacher and Dr. Martin Luther College grad, said her sister knew the inventor of the Sequence game — Doug Reuter — who lived off the royalties from game sales.

The Laitinens played Sequence with church groups and at family gatherings for several years.

With encouragement from others, Carol created her own game she named “Chain Definitions.”

She kept adding new wrinkles to the game that became more popular by those who played it as time passed.

“I think it was Anita who told me I should try to market the new game. That sparked my interest,” said Laitinen.

The object of the game is to be the first to correctly identify the “Synapse” word within 60 seconds. More points are earned by identifying the word in less time.

Teammates try to form a sentence by saying only one word to describe it.

Words vary from easy to medium to difficult.

The game was designed to be played by people ages 8 and up.

She contacted Reuter who offered game suggestions but advised her to “take it one day at a time.”

Laitinen felt a timer would make the game more exciting. A game part production firm didn’t match what she had in mind.

Her uncle suggested Chanhassen-based companies who created a product from her concept.

“It was a great learning experience every step of the way,” said Laitinen.

Designers played the game with her so they could get a better idea of what she wanted.

“I was really encouraged by the product designers who enjoyed the game as much as I did,” Laitinen added.

Her husband’s associate, Pastor Jeffrey Bovee — who had studied art — designed a Synapse game box.

Laitinen thanked her friends and family for encouraging her when game creation details got challenging.

“I couldn’t have done it without their help,” she added.

Laitinen is working on creating more game versions including a Bible and junior edition for children.

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Article Photos

Photo by Fritz Busch
The Laitinens and Hartwigs of New Ulm enjoy a game of Synapse. From left, Lois and Ted Hartwig (partially hidden), Dan, Carol, Anna and Wayne Laitinen.

Fact Box

If you go:

Who: The public

What: Synapse product launch Open House

When: 6:30-10 p.m., Thursday, Friday, March 15&16, 2008

Where: New Ulm Holiday Inn, 2101 S. Broadway



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