Mission Statement

To build community through play by providing opportunities for people of all ages to connect with one another and experience the joy and educational value of traditional play.

Mary Couzin on How it All Began...

Before Hasbro purchased Western Publishing's game group, a friend of mine worked and played for Western. He would bring down games they were preparing to market, like Outburst, Pictionary, and SolarQuest. What fun that was! It was just as fun to hear the "rags to riches" stories about the inventors behind the games. I thought to myself "How hard could it be to come up with a great game?" It's harder than people realize. It took a few years before my first game, Hollywood's Reel Schpeel (co-created with June Fobes Keeley), was first published in 1995. To develop, produce and market the game I attended trade shows and networked with many game inventors. These experiences led to the founding of DiscoverGames.com in 1997, designed to be a resource for inventors to help them save time, energy and money.  In 2001 I attended the Essen Game Fair in Germany and was amazed at the joy and excitement on the faces of people of all ages, enjoying the thousands of toys and games they were able to play with and test out. In Europe, toy and game designers are more well-known and celebrated. I thought to myself, "Why don't we have this in the U.S.?"  So in 2003 a new venture was born, The Chicago Toy & Game Fair (ChiTAG). With the support of the colleagues I met over the years, I started the ChiTAG Fair at family-friendly Navy Pier, one of Midwest's top tourist attractions. We started small but have grown over the years because of the positive feedback from exhibitors and consumers.

Since 2003 we have added more events that support the industry and celebrate the creative inventors behind our most beloved and popular playthings. For more than 30 years Chicago has been the toy capital of the world, because of the vast number of toys and games that were invented here, including - Lite Brite, Radio Flyer Wagons, Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots, Lincoln Logs, Mouse Trap, Guesstures, Scattergories Categories, Inch Worm, Toss Across, Simon, False Chattering Teeth, Rack-O, TMX Elmo, Beanie Babies, and many more. This fact has also been an inspiration to continue to grow, and eventually we became the Chicago Toy & Game Group, to encompass all the initiatives listed below. The Chicago Toy & Game Group is now comprised of many hard-working and passionate individuals who have joined me in pursuit of our mission - to support inventors at all stages of their journey; to promote toy and game inventors in becoming celebrities (as they are in Europe); and, to promote the importance of traditional play in our society, which is so important for the health and well-being of our society. 

Youth, by Samuel Ullman


Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matterof rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease.  This often exists in a man of sixty more than a body of twenty.  Nobody grows old merely by a number of years.  We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.  Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being's heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what's next, and the joy of the game of living.  In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.



About Chicago Toy & Game Week

Chicago Toy & Game Week is a family of industry initiatives designed to encourage and promote the power and joy of invention in social, educational, and professional environments. Chicago Toy & Game Week consists of:

  • Chicago Toy & Game (ChiTAG) Fair: founded in 2003 - the largest toy and game fair in the U.S. open to public. ChiTAG brings together consumers, families, inventors, manufacturers, retailers, educators, hobbyists, and the media, at the start of the holiday season, to play, celebrate, discover, support, and promote the creation of toys and games. This event includes a media/blogger conference at the Young Inventor Challenge, where participants create their own toy or game inventions to be judged by popular vote by industry professionals and fair attendees.
  • The Toy & Game Innovation Conference (T&GCon): founded in 2008 - the industry's original, preeminent, most comprehensive conference available to toy and game inventors and seasoned industry professionals from around the world.
  • Toy and Game Inventor of the Year Awards ((TAGIEs): founded in 2008 - an elegant and playful evening that honors and celebrates the history of and the people behind the playthings.
  • The International Summit for Professional Inventors (I-SPI): founded in 2011 - an exclusive, invitation only conference for Professional Inventors.
  • playCHIC brings play and brands to the people in a fresh and relevant way – on the runway!  playCHIC is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands to strike a pose,            dominate the runway and take the media by storm – just in time for            holidays.

Our Other Initiatives



  • Games for Educators: founded in 2005 - resource developed in partnership with Live Oaks Games provides educators, librarians and parents with the tools and trends to bring games into the classroom and homeschool curriculum.            
  • DiscoverGames.com: founded in 1998 - the world's largest co-op of board game inventors.
  • Chicago Toy and Game Foundation: founded in 2011 - philanthropic foundation supporting various children's organizations.