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New card game shows wild side of old favorite
Inventors say retro game can compete against high-tech gadgets

Press Room

By David Sharos
Photos by Robyn Sheldon
Printed in the Naperville Sun on February 16, 2007.

From John Madden football games to hunting down space aliens, video games continue to capture the imagination of players throughout the world.

But before the video craze, board and card games dominated the landscape, a fact not lost on Nicholas and Monica Scarpino, who plan to unveil a new rummy-based family card game this month.

The card game, "What's Wild?!" is produced by Little Shoe Publishing Company, which Nicholas Scarpino oversees as president. It is based on a safari theme, with the usual diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs replaced by animal "skins" including alligator, peacock, cheetah and zebra. The game also includes "wild" and "chameleon" cards.

The game strategy involves collecting "herds" or "caravans" of animals - "books" or "runs" in traditional rummy - until a player "goes wild" and ends the round by laying down all his cards.

Scarpino, 25, said the idea for the game emerged from a Christmas vacation a few years ago while playing a family game of rummy.

"While playing, we would always ask what the wild card was, which led to the name of this card game," he said. "A lot of family members talked about ideas, but I'm the graphic designer and the one who went and ran with the thing."

To date, the Scarpinos have invested several thousands of dollars in forming their own at-home business and paying the production costs for the initial run of the game - 2,500 decks of cards.

"We first thought if we could sell out 2,500 game sets, that would be great," Scarpino said. "But thanks to the buzz that's been created through family and friends, we've decided to set our sights much higher."

The word-of-mouth advertising has easily reached 1,000 people already, Scarpino estimated, a number he hopes will swell after the premiere party held Feb. 11, with more than 150 guests registered for the event.

A special commercial with live actors was shown at the premiere, to be seen later on the game's Web site and on MySpace.

The next marketing strategy will be to connect with retail stores and using the Internet.

"We want to find retailers in the area that would carry this game - stores that would be appropriate for this kind of thing," Scarpino said. "We also plan to market this on the Internet using our own Web site (www.whatswildcardgame.com) as well as working with sites like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. They are two of the partners we are very keen on."

The two Waubonsie Valley High School graduates plan to sell the game for $12.99, which includes two decks of cards and instructions.

To some, it may appear the Scarpinos are taking a risk by turning out a retro card game in an age that is far more digital and media driven. But Scarpino says the game's target audience - players 7 years old and up - should lure an audience of young married couples with children.

"I don't think a 7-year-old is going to see this game and say, hey, I have to have this," Scarpino said. "But once he plays it with his friends or parents, he's going to love it. This is something people can own as well as give to others. And if it catches on, we already have a deluxe edition in mind."

This article also ran in two other newspapers under the following titles:

Waubonsie Valley grads hope their game -- a new take on rummy -- will produce... A 'wild' time
Printed in the Beacon News on February 20, 2007.

Scarpinos' new game takes 'wild card' literally
Printed in the Fox Valley Villages Sun on February 22, 2007.

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