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Playing the Game
Poses passes "go" and collects $500,000

To Eric Poses, 25, life is a game -- for teens and adults. It's called Loaded Questions, and so far he has sold about 38,000 copies, generating some $500,000 in revenue for his All Things Equal Inc. in Miami.

Poses came up with the idea for the game two years ago while waiting for a girlfriend at Miami Airport and wondering what they would talk about. The point of Loaded Questions, you see, is for people to find out how well they know each other. Players advance on a board by correctly identifying which opponent gave a particular answer to revealing questions: "If you were forced to choose your own death, how would you die?" or "What is your favorite cliché?"

Poses was working for a Miami ad agency at the time and hating it. "I wasn't made to have a job," he says. He was, however, born to the world of games: His grandfather and great-uncle were co-creators of TV game shows Family Feud and The Price Is Right. So he decided to follow the family tradition, picking the brains of game-industry players. Soon, he had figured out how to outsource design and production. In April, 1997, he loaded his car with his first batch of games and drove 13,000 miles visiting independent toy and game stores to answer his own loaded question: How would you feel if you blew $60,000 in personal savings and your parent's money on a game no one wanted?

"Cold-calling takes guts," says Sara Pierce, owner of Philadelphia's Einstein Presents Inc., where the game has sold well. Last November, Poses started to score: Toys 'R' Us ordered 6,000 units for selected stores at Christmas. This year, the chain bought 20,000 for all its stores. No need to ask Poses this one, from the Personals category: "What was your most gratifying moment?"

By Fred Strasser in New York

This article was originally published in the Nov. 9, 1998 print edition of Business Week's Enterprise.

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