The idea for Spontuneous®, the fun family board game where everyone participates by singing, was first conceived on August 2nd, 2009 by Rob Ridgeway of Billings, MT while hanging out with family (Courtney & Kyle Trafton) and friends at the Giant Warm Springs near Lewistown, MT. It came about that day during normal conversation when one of the words uttered by Courtney, triggered her friend Sarah to burst into song and sing a portion of lyrics containing Courtney’s word. Courtney laughed saying, “That’s funny; I do that all the time!” Standing nearby, Rob added, “No kidding, so do I! Hmmmm… you know, that would make an awesome board game!” For the next two hours, Courtney, Kyle, Sarah, Kelly and Rob took turns throwing out words to see if the others could “bust out” a song containing the trigger-word. It was an instant hit and at the time, the game was coined “Bust it Out!” No one knew it would eventually be named Spontuneous and would be for sale nation-wide.
Over the next four to five months, Rob continued testing the basics of what would become a popular board game with different groups of friends, around campfires, and wherever people were willing to play. Everyone who played had a fun! One day after discussing the concept at a barbecue with his friend Doug Jensen, Rob was convinced it was worth pursuing. It was on his drive home that night when the word Spontuneous® popped into his head; a combination of the words “spontaneous” and “tunes,” which perfectly described people who spontaneously burst into song after hearing a particular word! He later defined Spontuneous® as “Acting on the natural tendency to burst into song.”
Rob spent countless nights researching the industry learning how to turn the idea into reality. A lot goes into making a board game! Everything from game design and manufacturing, to distributing and marketing were new to him and called for a lot more research. In early December, Rob was introduced to Mark Johnson, a graphic designer in Billings, Montana, who helped complete the first prototype before Christmas 2009 and became part of the team. Rob spent a majority of Christmas Day (sorry Mom!) writing the first version of the rules and played that night with Courtney, Kyle & family using a game board and game pieces for the very first time. The game was a hit, but after two and a half hours of play without an official winner, it was clear there was much work needed to refine the flow and mechanics of the game!
By mid-February Rob had a workable prototype in hand and ventured off to Toy Fair 2010, in New York City to gauge interest and network with those in the board game industry. The trip was a great success as several people within the industry expressed interest in Spontuneous®. Upon returning from New York energized by the excitement, the final design of the game was kicked into high gear in hopes of launching by Summer of 2010. Many revisions were made during the next few months following suggestions to improve the game’s flow and mechanics by Industrial Engineer and Chief Play Testing Officer (CPTO), Trevor Livesay of Bozeman, MT.
On August 2nd, 2010, exactly one year from the day that Spontuneous® was conceived, the first 5,500 games rolled off the assembly line and were ready for sale! At the request of many friends, the first 500 of these were signed by Rob prior to shrink-wrapping and are known as the Platinum Collector’s Edition of Spontuneous®. Spontuneous has since been in the newsand won Best Game of the Year from Creative Child Magazine.
So what’s the game like? Well in summary, Dan McMaster said it best, “Spontuneous® will totally change the way you listen to music!” (For those of you who know Dan, hearing him say this is actually really funny!)
Special Thanks from the Inventor
“It’s been a long, hard road over a short period of time. Mark, you’ve put in a lot of hours and your design is unbelievable; I couldn’t have done it without you! Brother Blake, please don’t ever get married; my travel companion status is critical to the success of Spontuneous®...haha, thanks bro! Finally, to all my friends and family that encouraged me to pursue this crazy idea, thank you, it means a lot! I truly believe everyone’s hard work will pay off and Spontuneous® will create laughter in homes around the world for years to come.” ~ Rob