The Creativity Hub, the Irish firm responsible for publishing Rory’s Story Cubes and The Extraordinaires Design Studio is shifting focus from the educational market exclusively to tabletop games. With that comes a new name, Hub Games.

What the company will keep doing, however, is producing products with a unique sensibility.

Hub Games aims to publish games that foster discussion between players at the table and beyond; games with heart. By encouraging self-expression through play and having gamers reflect on the choices they make, Hub Games looks to push past the idea of games being simple entertainment.

Its two latest releases are Blank and Untold: Adventures Await. Blank is a card game reminiscent of Uno, except that the cards and game rules are modified by the players with each play. Thus, over time each card deck becomes a reflection of the people who’ve played with it. Untold: Adventures Await is a storytelling game, a kind-of cooperative RPG in which participants describe a series of adventures using Rory’s Story Cubes in a structure of scenes, episodes, and seasons.

The rights to Rory’s Story Cubes were sold by the company last year to Asmodee.

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Rory’s Story Cubes Sold to Asmodee

Asmodee Group has acquired Rory’s Story Cubes from The Creativity Hub. Already the distributor for Rory’s Story Cubes in several countries, Asmodee with this deal ups its stake to “worldwide publishing and brand rights.” Other existing distribution arrangements will remain in place through their current terms, such as with Gamewright through 2018 in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The deal also has The Creativity Hub working as consultants to Asmodee for a 3 year period, allowing for the smooth transition of manufacturing, distribution, and product development. Discussing the transaction with Purple Pawn, company co-founder Rory O’Connor expressed confidence in Asmodee’s commitment to the product as both a game and a resource for promoting creativity. Asmodee, he said, will better be able to expand the reach of Rory’s Story Cubes to a wider audience and additional global markets. Don’t expect any sudden changes to the product line, though, or a major expansion in licensed versions of Story Cubes.

At the same time, Rory added, the sale will allow The Creativity Hub to focus more time and resources on new products. Among those it has in development are Blank, a card game that evolves from play to play, and Untold, a cooperative roleplaying game incorporating Story Cubes and currently funding on Kickstarter. Regarding the Untold, Rory said in jest:

Looking back at it, it’s almost like Untold is the base game and we released all the expansions already.

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At first one might think The Extraordinaires a STEM education game (and certainly there was a lot of talk about STEM at Toy Fair). But really this new product from the inventors of Rory’s Story Cubes is meant to encourage imagination and exercise empathy.

The Extraordinaires Design Studio Deluxe comes in a plastic portfolio case with character cards, job cards, and a drawing pad. Players are supposed to design products that satisfy the need described on a selected job card, specifically for the person specified on a selected character card. For example, with one randomly chosen card of each type, the goal might be to design a source of light for a pirate.

Exercising empathy is made part of the task because with each character comes a bit of background information in the form of images of their life. The images convey something more of that character’s unique personality, as well as at least one limitation. For example, it turns out that the ninja is in a band and the pirate has only one hand.

The Extraordinaires Design Studio Deluxe is available now and comes with 225 design challenges for $40. An Inventions set has 36 challenges (18 new) but no and a smaller drawing pad for $20. The Buildings set also has no the smaller pad and is also $20 but does feature 36 entirely new challenges.

The Extraordinaires Design Studio

corrected 2/20/2015