Seeing a need for a better understanding of government, Port Washington native Mary Jo Joyce also thought the best way to develop that was through fun — and that's how Parli-Cards were born.
"Because I have worked in Washington D.C. for 25 years, I'm often asked questions about all things political," Mary Jo Joyce said.
Parli-Cards is a game board that infuses elements of government — such as Senate names and the electoral voting system — to help players have fun and learn at the same time. The game launched in November 2011.
Originally, Joyce said her idea was to develop a game focused on the Senate — but with how many changes the Senate sees on a regular basis, that seemed unfeasible — and the game board emerged.
The game incorporates elements of elementary-level education to graduate school, she said, adding that the game is played by people ages "8 to 98."
The cards included with the game can also be used on their own for a variety of other games — as the deck is a perfect 52 cards.
"Hopefully even if you're playing Go Fish with these cards, you might suck up some of the information," she said.
Joyce said she and her staff put an extra focus on finding United States companies to supply all of the necessary components for her games, keeping things as local as she could.
Since the success of the game board, Joyce has decided to create other games, including one that focuses on teaching acronymns related to different fields, such as "Speak Gov," with acronymns related to governmental organizations, or "Speak Text" that teaches acronyms used in texting or on social media.
With that game, Joyce said, it's pretty spectacular to hear the things people come up with when they're wrong.
"It's so familiar to them, but if they can't figure out what it means (it's pretty funny)," she said.
The games are now available at places such as in the Barnes and Noble Campus Bookstore, museums in Washington D.C. and Joyce has been trying to spark interest with Hallmark stores as a good item to sell in its section of games.
Joyce said she's hopeful the game will even become a souvenir option for those traveling to D.C.
"I would like to think this would be a better choice than a snow globe," she said.
"I want to do something for area residents, our greatest sales are online — (but) if you live in Port Washington I'd rather you come visit than pay a $10 shipping fee (for our game)," Joyce said.
Joyce's main field of work is a marketing research business, called Practical Strategies, Inc. She operates in an office at 120 N. Main St., 3rd floor, West Bend, and games are also available for sale there.
She will be holding a launch event for some new titles in her acronymn line from 4 to 7 p.m. Jan. 31, and the public is welcome.