In the Game: An Interview with Tradewala Creator, Rita Schultz

For For Chicagoan Rita Schultz, the decision to shift from management consultant to game designer was an easy one once she had the idea for Tradewala. She shares her experiences creating the game and her advice for those starting out.


Tell us a little about Tradewala.
Tradewala is a frenzied trading game that challenges players to make tough choices and balance today’s burning social topics to be the first player to own all cards of the same social topic. It’s a fast-paced group game that is very engaging for players and organically sparks interesting conversation about important topics that impact our lives everyday.

What inspired you to create Tradewala?

My husband and I were celebrating the holidays with my family and found ourselves in need of some excitement. So we decided to play a game called Pit. As we played, we all brainstormed different rules and themes. We found that the 113 year old game is fun but we can make a game simpler and more relevant in our world today. Games are one of the best methods to unite people, whether it be family, friends, or even strangers.

I wanted to create a game that would do that quickly and be really engaging for the players. A fast-paced trading game was the answer. At the same time, I wanted the game to have a bigger impact. It organically creates a positive and friendly environment to discuss these social topics.

How did you get into board game design?

Tradewala is the first official game I created. I’ve always loved playing games and decided to direct that interest into designing my own game.

What has been the easiest part of creating Tradewala? And the hardest?

Surprisingly, the easiest part was testing our concept to make sure people enjoyed the product. One of the most memorable moments was going through our focus groups to test the game and the concept. This was an important point in the process because the response from the focus groups would help us gauge if we have a good product or not. The response was incredibly positive and I loved the moments when I observed people having a blast with the game and hearing how much they enjoyed it.

One of the most difficult moments was probably going through our Kickstarter campaign. No matter how much preparation you have, executing a Kickstarter campaign is stressful, but you also learn a lot and it can be very rewarding. It was the first large scale exposure for Tradewala so we fielded a lot of feedback, responses, and questions. It helped us better understand what resonated with consumers. It also taught us to have thick skin because a new product will always have haters. We focused on the overwhelming positive support which helped us raise more than $10,000 in 30 days on Kickstarter.

We’ve heard a lot about gender inequality as well as harassment in the electronic gaming industry. Have you found similarities in the board game industry?

There are a lot of females in the boardgames industry, but it is one of the many areas dominated by males. I think one of the hardest things I’ve encountered as a businesswoman is negativity or doubts. I think anyone creating and leading a company, whether it be a consulting firm or a new game manufacturer, will encounter others that will subtly (or bluntly) tell you their doubts on the idea or ability to succeed. Hearing “no” is also something you’ll hear

As a minority woman, there are added obstacles and misconceptions that need to be overcome. Being prepared, steady determination, and confidence are critical to make sure you make good decisions and push forward to achieve your goals. It’s great to see trending conversations on the gender inequality topic right now. I hope these raise real awareness and helps to make strides to correct the issue.

What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

It’s important to do your homework and be prepared. If you have an idea, business, or game you want to create, make sure you do the research to understand the market, how to get to your goal, and a business plan.

Additionally, building a strong sense of determination and confidence is critical. We tend to have each “no” we hear weigh the same as 10 “yeses”. Change your way of thinking to be the opposite. Dig in, make smart decisions, understand your mistakes, and use positive results to propel you forward. It’s also helpful to surround yourself with people that offer you support, ideas, and positive energy.

JADE Magazine
Mar-Apr 2018

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