Welcome to the Chicago Toy & Game Week founded by Mary Couzin!
-Toy and Game Innovation Conferences with three tracks: New Inventors, Professional Inventors and Product Acquisition Executives. Largest in the world, supported by the biggest toy companies, people come from 25 countries (though not as big as SIC). We also have tracks for Play in Education (for educators) and Social Media. 12th year
-Toy and Game Innovation Awards – 10th year
– PlayCHIC – toy inspired fashion – 6th year
-Young Inventor Challenge – kids from all over North America, even 20 from Mexico. Target sponsored last year. These kids will amaze you. .12th year
– Chicago Toy & Game Fair – North America’s largest consumer toy and game fair with sub-events that are part of the Fair (Blogger/Media breakfast, Super Power Sensory Hour for special needs families, Star Wars lunch, etc.) 15th year
– Recap of 2016 here http://www.chitag.com/201 6recap
Why Should You Care?
Play is undervalued. The only thing all serial killers have in common is lack of play when they were kids. https://www.ted.com/ speakers/stuart_brown Play socializes humans. Children who play in kindergarten score higher on tests later. Play benefits adults – even Google has play areas for their employees. More facts here http://www.chitag.com/imp ortance-of-play
Where are we Going?
Play and Innovation Week in Chicago. We’ve started working on it. Think SXSW, but with play and innovation. We partnered with the City of Chicago in 2007 and activated the entire City for the summer with The Art of Play, so we know it can happen every year for a week. Play is everywhere – theaters (play on the stage), fashion (dress-up is a basic play pattern), art (play), etc. The same weekend as our events is the Disney Lights Parade bringing 1.5 million to Chicago and it is broadcast around the country by ABC. https://www.themagnificen tmile.com/lights-festival/ We’ ve partnered with the organization that runs it. We’ve also partnered with museums, restaurants (they feature playful desserts), markets, schools and others. Every cultural institution, community center, retail store, restaurant, office, etc. can host events… anyone could and it would be fun and purposeful!
Mary Couzin, President and Founder, Chicago Toy & Game Group
After inventing, self-producing and licensing her own toys and games, Mary turned her passion for invention to help other inventors through DiscoverGames.com, the world’s largest co-op of toy and board game inventors. In 2003, Mary launched the Chicago Toy & Game Fair (ChiTAG) with a plan to create the largest American celebration of play. In 2006 she introduced the Toy & Game Inventor’s Conference (T&GCon) to help new inventors connect with industry experts, and in 2008 the Toy & Game Inventor of the Year Awards (TAGIE Awards) to honor and celebrate toy and game inventors. Tracks for professional inventors, social media, tech and games in education have been added to the Conferences through the years. Thinking to celebrate play in an edgier way, she launched PlayCHIC, a toy and game inspired fashion event in 2011. 2008 saw the debut of the Young Inventor Challenge which has over 200 kids competing from coast-to-coast and as far as Mexico and Pakistan. This year marks the launch of the Young TECH Challenge. It’s all about encouraging inventiveness and creativity in kids!
Mary has served on TIA’s Associate Membership and PlayCon/ToyCon Committees. She now serves on TOTY Award Selection Committees, is a Selection Committee Member at National Toy Hall of Fame and a CES KAPI Awards Judge. She writes for Global Toy News and is active in social media promoting the importance of play and innovation. She has spoken at NY Toy Fair, ASTRA, World Congress of Play and ChiTAG hosted events. She’s been honored through the years: Women in Toys Wonder Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2009, 2011 TAGIE Founder’s Award, 2011 Global Toy News Person of the Year and the 2014 Woman Driving Excellence, Chicago Auto Show. She is active in local politics having served on City Council, Parks Board, Sculpture Committee, Zoning Board and Plan Commission. She is a past United Way Board Member. Mary received a BBA from the University of Notre Dame and a MBA from Loyola University.
Find Mary on Linked at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ mary-couzin-6776352/