An ex-banker becomes a gamer

By Staff
Northwest Asian Weekly


It all started on Christmas day in 2007. Derek Chinn was given a board game from one of his friends. He set up the game and found himself staring at it for five minutes.

He told himself that he could make something like it. That was the moment he became a board game creator. In the following weeks, he created six games. He had his friends test them out, though they weren’t too impressed with his initial efforts.

Inspiration struck one night as he was watching TV. Chinn conceived of a game involving colors and shapes on a board. This concept eventually became Telepathy, a board game for two players that combines strategy, logic, and deduction.

Chinn has lived in Seattle his whole life. He attended Franklin High School and graduated from the University of Washington. Previously, he worked at United Savings & Loan from 1974 to 2003, retiring after it merged with Washington Federal. He is presently on the board of directors with Washington Federal. He is involved with the Asian Men’s Basketball League and the Robert Chinn Foundation.

What’s the object of Telepathy?
Each player selects a secret square and you try to find your opponent’s secret square before they find your secret square. The game has some of the same concepts of the games Mastermind and Battleship.
What made you decide to create this game?
After creating about six games, Telepathy was my seventh and I decided that if I wanted to publish a game, this would be the one. I always liked games that combine strategy, logic, and deduction. I believe there is value in keeping the mind active.

What was the most challenging part about designing this board game?
The squares on the board had to be designed in a specific way, and I wasn’t able to accomplish that. Luckily, I had a friend who was a math major and he was able to create the board.

Do you miss the banking business?
The banking business provided me with a good living, but after 29 years, I wanted to see what else was out there and enjoy life a bit. As it turned out, I’m glad that I’m not in the banking business at this time. Creating and playing board games is a lot more fun.

Are you having any success with your new board game?
As of now, my game is in over 70 stores on the West Coast and I will be expanding eastward and eventually cover most of the United States.

Since the holiday season is coming up, I imagine that your game would make a good gift.
Yes. Board games are reasonably priced and this game will make a good Christmas present for both young and old. Although the game says 12 years and up, there have been 8 year olds who can play it. This game has been approved by the National Parenting Center and has been recommended by the Parent’s Choice Foundation Awards in 2009.

I have heard that board games have become a bit more popular these days.
That’s true. With the economy being a bit fragile, many people have decided to entertain themselves at home. Board games are inexpensive and provide an interactive benefit to many families.
What are your plans for the future? Should we look for another board game from you?
Now that I’ve been creating games, I can see myself doing this for a long time.  Hopefully, I will be able to publish another game. I definitely will if this game starts to become successful. ♦

Telepathy can be found locally at: Blue Highway Games, Izilla Toys, Top Ten Toys, Math and Stuff, Uncles Games, Kid’s Club, Calico Cat, Toys that Teach, Snapdoodle, Bellevue Art & Frame, White Horse Toys, Third Place Books, Vashon Pharmacy, University Book Store, and Red Wagon.

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One Response to “An ex-banker becomes a gamer”


  1. […] The Northwest Asian Weekly pimps Derek Chinn, the designer of Telepathy. (source) […]

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